What is Vitamin D and how does it affect us?
In 2012, there was an emergence of research linking Vitamin D deficiency to:
-Loss of sex drive/Libido
-Low mood/ Depression
-Derma (skin) problems such as acne
-Constant fatigue and tiredness
- Increased risk of influenza and other autoimmune diseases
-Frequent infections (such as colds and flu)
- Bacterial Vaginosis
-Type 2 Diabetes
, Osteoporosis and poor dental health
-Increased time for the body to repair/ heal from open skin wounds
-Severe Asthma (particularly in children)
-An increased risk of dying from a stroke or a heart attack
Many scientific studies have shown the recommended daily limit for Vitamin D to be much higher than is currently advised.
This is increasingly alarming once learning that hypovitaminosis D (Vitamin D deficiency) is an independent risk factor for total mortality in the general population.
In simple terms, a statistical relationship is sustained when looking at the correlation between Vitamin D and total death amongst the population.
This indicates that Vitamin D plays a much more vital role in human mortality than we are giving it credit for.
As cases of hypovitaminosis (Vitamin D Deficiency) continue to rise, it’s relevance has been at the forefront of research relating to most studies regarding human anatomy.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a hormone present in two variations for available use by humans;
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is produced by invertebrates, some plants and fungi.
Biological production of Vitamin D2 is stimulated by ultraviolet light.
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is synthesized in the skin by the reaction of 7-dehydrocholesterol with the UVB radiation present in sunlight with an UV index of three or more.
Humans do not make Vitamin D2; and most foods rich in Vitamin D such as oil rich fish like salmon and mackerel instead contain Vitamin D3.
This is relevant as when ultraviolet light makes contact with human skin, Vitamin D3 is synthesised and not Vitamin D2, hence justifying the argument that Vitamin D3 is it’s most natural form for human use.
Vitamin D receptors are present in most tissues and cells in the human body hence giving the hormone many functions.
The Endocrine Society of Clinical Practice (ESCP) suggest maintenance of the upper tolerable limits of Vitamin D consumption to correct vitamin D deficiency.
According to the ESCP, this is :
-1000 IU per day for infants from 0 to 6 months
-500 IU per day for infants from 6 months to 1 year
-2000 IU per day for children 0 to 1 years
-4000 IU per day for children 1–18 years
-10,000 IU per day for children and adults 19 years and above
This could provide some reasoning as to why many do not see results when they use Vitamin D3 supplementation.
Main Deficiency Risks
Over 50% of us suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, particularly those who live in climates where inhabitants receive relatively low levels of sunlight.
Alongside this there are not enough foods which contain enough vitamin D to rectify this through diet alone.
Vitamin D deficiency in the population is not attributable to living in cold climates alone, like the UK for example:
-People living in areas with high air pollution
-People wearing clothes which cover up the majority of your skin
-Living a lifestyle which means you are indoors for much of the time
Those who fall within this category may not be receiving enough sunlight for ultra-violet B-induced Vitamin D production in the skin.
People amongst the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community particularly run the risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
Black people absorb more ultraviolet B through the melanin in their skin than white people for example.
Thus they require more sun exposure to absorb more ultraviolet B to produce the same amount of Vitamin D.
Alongside this, wearing sunscreen with a sun protection factor level 30,(SPF 30) has shown to reduce Vitamin D production by more than 95%.
People with darker skin tones have natural sun protection and therefore require a minimum of three to five times more exposure to produce the same amount of Vitamin D as a person with a white skin tone.
Without vitamin D, only 10–15% of dietary calcium and about 60% of phosphorus is absorbed.
Vitamin D sufficiency enhances calcium and phosphorus absorption by 30–40% and 80%, respectively.
Hence people with darker skin tones living in climates with relatively low levels of sunlight exposure, particularly run the risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
In addition to this, having a BMI of over 30kg/m2 is inversely proportionate to Vitamin D serum levels in the body, particularly those with high body fat percentages.
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