Vitamin D

You may have heard rumors.....that vitamin D is not a vitamin, but is really a hormone. That vitamin D can cure cancer. Prevent dementia.

Let's tackle that first part. Vitamins are essential to our bodies and we have to get them from the foods we eat because our bodies cannot make them. Well, vitamin D is a little different. Our bodies do make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Ultraviolet rays hit the skin and trigger vitamin D production. This initial substance is not active. The liver changes the vitamin D to 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or calcidiol. Our kidneys then turn this into 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, a hormone known as calcitriol, or "activated vitamin D".

We still don't know all of the ways in which vitamin D affects our overall health. Here are a few of the ones we do know about...

Vitamin D is necessary for bone growth. Our bones constantly undergo remodeling. Mature bone is removed and new bone is formed. Osteoclasts are the cells that break bones down and osteoblasts are the cells that make new bone. It is important that these two cells work together. It is also essential to have the right amount of calcium. Several hormones take care of this and calcitriol/vitamin D is one of them. This makes us able to heal fractures, breaks in the bone. Without vitamin D bones are not formed properly. They are thin and brittle. Children with vitamin D deficiency get rickets. Adults get osteomalacia, softening of the bones. It happens when not enough calcium and phosphorous are in the bones, or when too much calcium is removed from the bones. Older adults can also get osteoporosis, where the bones become thinner and less dense over time.

So vitamin D protects children from rickets, and adults from osteomalacia and osteoporosis. We have known those things for a long time, but Vitamin D's importance goes beyond strong bones. It also promotes calcium absorption in the intestines. It keeps your teeth healthy. It is important in cell growth, reducing inflammation, and immune function. Every day we are learning new things about the many roles vitamin D plays in our bodies.

Here are some of the many symptoms you may experience if your vitamin D is low:

  • frequent colds and respiratory infections
  • fatigue
  • generalized muscle weakness or aching
  • muscle cramps
  • joint pain
  • weight gain
  • high blood pressure
  • restless sleep
  • headaches
  • poor concentration
  • bladder problems
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • swollen bleeding gums
  • hair loss

Here are some interesting vitamin D findings from recent studies:

  • A group of children were given vitamin D and Type I diabetes risk decreased by 80%.
  • The severity of asthma attacks was lowered in school children.
  • Congestive heart failure has been associated with vitamin D deficiency
  • Women with vitamin D deficiency had an increased risk of developing high blood pressure

Researchers have even discovered links between increased vitamin D intake and decreased risks of certain types of cancer. Although many studies are ongoing, we know that vitamin D is extremely important for healthy bodies.

What does all this mean to you? It means you need to know more about vitamin D. Should you be taking it? If so, how much? What kind? Stay tuned!

And every day.....Say NO To Stroke!

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