Science continues to discover more and more health benefits of vitamin D. Although the majority of this web site deals with facts and advice about converting the sun's energy into electricity, which in turn will help you improve your lifestyle, its also important to learn why your body needs to be exposed to the sun in order to produce Vitamin D – which makes your body run better so you can better enjoy your improved solar-enhanced lifestyle.
You may be surprised to learn the important role that vitamin D plays in your health. In this section we discuss some of the benefits of vitamin D, especially when you maintain optimum levels.
With Vitamin D the first thing one must understand is that it is a hormone, not a true "vitamin," like Vitamin C. Vitamin D serves essentially as a "master" hormone, regulating and orchestrating what the rest of the body’s hormones are doing. This is also why sometimes it is referred to as a precursor hormone — the building block of a powerful steroid hormone in your body called calcitriol.
Your body can’t create vitamin D on its own. Instead, it’s designed to make it through exposure of the sun on your skin. In theory, you can make an ample supply of vitamin D with as little as a couple of hours per week in the sun — provided the UVB rays are strong enough.
Like solar cells – some people have a higher efficiency in producing vitamin D (for more information about producing vitamin D from the sun – click here), and others are less efficient, and consequently more likely to be vitamin D deficient and consequently at a greater health risk.
Just like with solar cells – the amount of vitamin D your body can produce will depend on your insolation levels (i.e., latitude, weather, seaonality, etc.), and as with a solar panel your body will become less efficient producing the vitamin D you need for good health as you get older and your skin gets thinner.
Maybe all those retirees who moved to the sun belt instinctively knew that getting more sun is better for their health!
The active form of vitamin D (i.e., calcitrol) inhibits proliferation and stimulates the differentiation of cells. Cellular differentiation results in the specialization of cells for specific functions in your body. In general, differentiation of cells leads to a decrease in proliferation. While cellular proliferation is essential for growth and wound healing, uncontrolled proliferation of cells with certain mutations may lead to diseases like cancer.
Recent research indicates that Vitamin D helps lengthen telomeres – which affect cell life and aging.
Although Vitamin D is mostly known as the Sunshine Vitamin – it might soon be named the Anti-Aging Vitamin.
For more details about vitamin D's role in helping to retard, and even reverse the effects of aging - read our article on Vitamin D and Telemorase.
It appears that calcitriol actually becomes part of the physical composition of cells, assisting in the buildup and breakdown of healthy tissue — in other words, regulating the processes that keep you well.
Active vitamin D is a potent immune system modulator. There is plenty of scientific evidence that vitamin D has several different effects on immune system function that may enhance your immunity and inhibit the development of autoimmunity.
The following video highlights some of immune boosting benefits of vitamin D in fighting off the flu (it's better than a vaccine he says), colds, and other ailments:
A study by researchers at the UCSD School of Medicine shows that fluctuations in Vitamin D3 levels control the body’s innate immune response, affecting a skin wound’s ability to heal.
“Our study shows that skin wounds need vitamin D3 to protect against infection and begin the normal repair process,” said Gallo. “A deficiency in active D3 may compromise the body’s innate immune system which works to resist infection, making a patient more vulnerable to microbes.”
As a result of this and previous studies, Gallo and his colleagues are beginning clinical trials at UCSD Medical Center with both oral and topical vitamin D3. Normal volunteers, and patients with disorders in antimicrobial peptide production such as atopic dermatitis and acne, are being studied to determine if vitamin D3 can improve their natural immune defenses.
Adequate vitamin D levels are important for decreasing the risk of high blood pressure.
Epidemiologic studies have shown that people living near the equator are less likely to have hypertension. It's also been observed that blood pressures tend to be higher in the winter, when we get less sunlight, which your body uses to synthesize vitamin D.
One recent large study demonstrated a distinct connection between increases in blood pressure and the distance people live from the equator.
Other researchers have found that the higher a person's serum level of vitamin D, the lower his or her blood pressure. And in case studies published in the journal Internal Medicine and the American Journal of Kidney Disease, treatment with vitamin D reduced the subjects' plasma renin, angiotensin II, and blood pressure.
For more about the benefits of vitamin D and overall heart health, read our article entitled: What do Vitamin D and Heart Health Have in Common?
One of the primary benefits of Vitamin D is the maintenance of blood calcium levels within a narrow range is vital for normal functioning of the nervous system, as well as for bone growth, and maintenance of bone density. Vitamin D is essential for the efficient utilization of calcium by the body.
It’s been known for many years that vitamin D is critical to the health of our bones and teeth, but deeper insight into D’s wider role in our health is quite new.
Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium from the small intestine,
thereby helping to maintain adequate blood levels of calcium and phosphate needed for bone formation, mineralization (incorporating minerals to increase strength and density), growth, and repair.
Vitamin D works in concert with other nutrients and hormones in your body to support healthy bone renewal — an ongoing process of mineralization and demineralization which, when awry, shows up as rickets in children and osteomalacia (“soft bones”) or osteoporosis (“porous bones”) in adults.
To read more about how Vitamin D and Calcium work together to make you body healthier, click here.
The active form of vitamin D plays a role in insulin secretion under conditions of increased insulin demand. Limited data in humans suggests that insufficient vitamin D levels may have an adverse effect on insulin secretion and glucose tolerance in type 2 diabetes.
More studies are underway to study the role of vitamin D plays with preventing and managing diabetes.
Clearly, one of the newly discovered benefits of vitamin D seems to be its importance in regulating our weight, but we don’t yet understand the mechanism involved or how it relates to our environment and individual biochemistry. Still, there seems to be a correlation between rising rates of obesity and vitamin D deficiency.
If you are having difficulty with insulin resistance or weight gain — or can’t keep the pounds off once you lose them — you may want to have your vitamin D levels checked by your healthcare practitioner.
Another potential benefit of Vitamin D and a topic for research is its relationship to depression. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a situational mood disorder brought on by decreasing daylight in the winter months. High doses of vitamin D during these months have proven to be a very effective natural remedy for SAD, leading most practitioners to believe that normal neurotransmitter function depends in part on adequate vitamin D synthesis.
Vitamin D levels are inversely related to those of melatonin, another mood-regulating hormone. Melatonin helps modulate your circadian rhythms, with darkness triggering melatonin secretion by the pineal gland within your brain, bringing you down gently at night for sleep. Insomnia, mood swings and food cravings are influenced by melatonin. Sunlight shuts melatonin production off, while triggering release of vitamin D — that’s why doctors recommend getting outdoors as a remedy for jet lag.
Most of us can sense the positive influence of sunlight in our own lives by the immediate lift we get from taking a walk outdoors on a beautiful sunny day. Now there may be many factors at work that brighten our mood in such cases, but sun exposure is almost certainly a critical piece.
Soaking in the warmth of the sun is one of the most relaxing activities we share with all living creatures — just watch a cat dozing in a beam of sunlight.
Another benefit of Vitamin D is that it appears to improve virility. Conception peaks in the summer, when vitamin D levels are highest, and ebbs in the winter, when vitamin D stores are low.
In one study it was discovered that vitamin D deficiency has profound effects on rat testicles, including dramatically reducing spermatogenesis. Vitamin D deficient male rats were 73% less likely to successfully father pups than vitamin D sufficient males.
Increased vitamin D levels restored virility to vitamin D deficient male rats and should do the same for vitamin D deficient male humans.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a major benefit of Vitamin D is the role it may play in the prevention or curing following diseases:
Cancer (breast / colon)
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
The benefits from vitamin D, aside from a good looking tan, can be almost endless. How this vitamin aids the body is more scientific than most people know, and it can take a specific education like an online healthcare management degree.
Here are just some of the other benefits of vitamin D:
> It is also important for blood clotting
> Optimal function of the thyroid gland.
> Adequate vitamin D may also be associated with healthy hair follicle growth cycles
> Elevate your mood and boost your mental performance
> Enhance the function of your pancreas.
> Help you sleep better.
> Give you more energy and stamina during the day.
> Lower abnormally high blood sugar.
> Decrease bad cholesterol in your blood.
> Increase lymphocytic white blood cells (responsible for your immune system to work optimally).
The following is a partial list of articles we've added to our website and blog to give you a full picture of this important subject. Like other parts of this website these articles summarize the important facts and include useful advice.
If Vitamin D Were a Drug It Would Win the Nobel Prize
Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms and Risk
Testing Your Vitamin D Levels: (know what to ask your doctor, or order a home testing kit)
Vitamin D from Food
What you need to know when choosing a Vitamin D supplement
Vitamin D Deficiency is linked to 2/3rds of the medical problems in the US along with poor diet
Vitamin D helps prevent 75% of all cancers
Vitamin D is Important for Good Heart Health
Vitamin D and Calcium: You Need Them Both
Vitamin D is important for healthy teeth and preventing periodontal disease and weakening of the jawbone
Vitamin D deficiency can cause mobility problems
Vitamin D helps you live longer
The information contained in this section of our web site is for educational purposes and is not intended as medical advice.
While the publishers of this website believe that people have the right to understand their own bodies and to take care of their bodies as they see fit, we also respect the knowledge and experience of trained nutritionists, scientists, researchers, medical practioners, and others who can help you achieve the optimum health you are entitled to, and suggest you seek out and work with health specialists you can trust.