Commonly referred to as “the sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is synthesized naturally when the skin absorbs the sun’s UV-B rays. However, with a higher proportion of the population working indoors and using sunscreen to prevent skin cancer (sunscreen blocks 95 percent of vitamin D production), vitamin D deficiency is a common problem.
Since there are very few foods rich in vitamin D, supplementation is the best method to achieve the benefits of vitamin D. Vitamin D supplementation should especially be considered for individuals at high risk for bone loss or with limited sun exposure.
The functions of vitamin D in the body are extensive. First and foremost, vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the body, an essential factor in maintaining bone strength and bone formation. Vitamin D also helps maintain bone mineral density. This is especially important for older adults and women past menopause.
Related benefits of vitamin D include prevention of rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, which are both characterized by softening of the bones due poor bone mineralization. Vitamin D helps to prevent these conditions by maintaining phosphorous and calcium absorption necessary for strong bones.
Vitamin D is essential in supporting a healthy immune system. Scientists have discovered that Vitamin D is critical in activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the body will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body.
Toxicity: Symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, and potential for frequent urination and kidney problems).