Vit­a­min D is indis­pens­able for the body — this sim­ple truth is known to every­one. More­over, we know that in order for it to be pro­duced in the body, the sun is nec­es­sary. Get­ting enough vit­a­min D is essen­tial for nor­mal growth and bone devel­op­ment in chil­dren. In the body of an adult, it also plays an impor­tant role in main­tain­ing the health of the mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem, in par­tic­u­lar, for the pre­ven­tion of osteo­poro­sis and osteo­ma­la­cia in peo­ple of mature age. How­ev­er, is the val­ue of vit­a­min D lim­it­ed to the main­te­nance of nor­mal cal­ci­um metab­o­lism? Med­AboutMe will tell you what are the func­tions of vit­a­min D in the body and how to avoid its defi­cien­cy in late autumn, when sun­light is not enough for health.

Definition and Role of Vitamin D

Definition and Role of Vitamin D

Vit­a­min D, also called cal­cif­er­ol, is a com­mon name for sev­er­al chem­i­cal com­pounds that have sim­i­lar struc­tures and prop­er­ties. These include ergo- and chole­cal­cif­er­ol, denot­ed, respec­tive­ly, as D2 and D3. Vit­a­min D2 is pro­duced in the body under the influ­ence of ultra­vi­o­let rays, and D3 enters it from the out­side. Vit­a­min D is a pro­hor­mone, mean­ing it is in an inac­tive form. In this form, it can be in the liv­er for a long time, form­ing the so-called reserve. Its acti­va­tion occurs through com­plex process­es occur­ring in the kid­neys and liv­er.

In the body, vit­a­min D is con­vert­ed to the hor­mone cal­citri­ol, which is respon­si­ble for the for­ma­tion and devel­op­ment of bone tis­sue cells. It is worth not­ing that cal­cif­er­ol is the only vit­a­min that per­forms in its var­i­ous “hypostases” the func­tions of both a vit­a­min and a hor­mone at the same time. It was first syn­the­sized in the 20–30s of the last cen­tu­ry. Since then, its prop­er­ties and sig­nif­i­cance for the body have been stud­ied quite well, but, nev­er­the­less, research con­tin­ues to this day.

The func­tions of vit­a­min D are:

  • nor­mal for­ma­tion and devel­op­ment of bone tis­sue;
  • reg­u­la­tion and absorp­tion of cal­ci­um in the body;
  • main­tain­ing the lev­el of inor­gan­ic phos­pho­rus in the blood;
  • pre­ven­tion of mus­cle weak­ness;
  • strength­en­ing the immune sys­tem;
  • blood pres­sure reg­u­la­tion;
  • nor­mal­iza­tion of car­diac activ­i­ty.

In addi­tion, vit­a­min D is indis­pens­able for the nor­mal func­tion­ing of the thy­roid gland. Also, cal­cif­er­ol plays an impor­tant role in the nor­mal­iza­tion of blood coag­u­la­tion, ensures the full absorp­tion of cal­ci­um and mag­ne­sium. It is essen­tial for kid­ney func­tion and mus­cle health. Vit­a­min D pre­vents uncon­trolled cell divi­sion in the body. This prop­er­ty makes cal­cif­er­ol an effec­tive tool for the pre­ven­tion and treat­ment of can­cer, strength­en­ing immu­ni­ty and sup­press­ing autoim­mune process­es.

How to avoid vitamin D deficiency in late autumn?

How to avoid vitamin D deficiency in late autumn?

The main fac­tor trig­ger­ing the for­ma­tion of vit­a­min D, as men­tioned ear­li­er, is the sun’s rays. That is why every per­son, and espe­cial­ly chil­dren and the elder­ly, needs to be out­side every day and enjoy the sun’s rays. Also, 20–30% of cal­cif­er­ol enters the body with food. Nor­mal­ly, vit­a­min D should be sup­plied to the body in the fol­low­ing amounts:

  • 2.5–5 mcg for an adult;
  • 10 micro­grams for preg­nant women and nurs­ing moth­ers;
  • 2.5–10 mcg for a child;
  • 7.5–10 mcg for new­borns.

Many peo­ple believe that the longer we are in the sun, the more vit­a­min D we get. And indeed it is. How­ev­er, in order for a suf­fi­cient amount of cal­cif­er­ol to be syn­the­sized in the body, it is nec­es­sary to bask in direct sun­light for a max­i­mum of half an hour, and not every­one suc­ceeds in this. Inter­est­ing­ly, fair-skinned peo­ple get more vit­a­min D than those with dark or dark skin. This is explained by the fact that the pig­ment melanin, which makes the skin dark, pre­vents the nor­mal absorp­tion of cal­cif­er­ol.

Speak­ing about the main source of vit­a­min D, the ques­tion nat­u­ral­ly aris­es: what to do in autumn or win­ter, when sun­ny weath­er is quite rare? First of all, it is nec­es­sary not to for­get about food prod­ucts con­tain­ing this vit­a­min. So, rich in cal­cif­er­ol:

  • fat­ty fish and fish oil itself;
  • beef liv­er;
  • egg yolks;
  • some dairy prod­ucts, in par­tic­u­lar cheese, cream, sour cream, but­ter.

In addi­tion, recent­ly more and more peo­ple talk about the con­tent of vit­a­min D in mush­rooms. Accord­ing to research con­duct­ed by endocri­nol­o­gist Michael Holik of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Boston, mush­rooms grown under the sun con­tain twice as much vit­a­min D2.

Vit­a­min D is, of course, present in some foods, but its amount is not enough to achieve the dai­ly require­ment. There­fore, in addi­tion to the cor­rect for­ma­tion of the diet, you must still not for­get about the sun. In cold weath­er, you should try, as they say, to expose your face and at least your hands to the sun’s rays.

In addi­tion, experts rec­om­mend, if nec­es­sary, tak­ing spe­cial prepa­ra­tions con­tain­ing vit­a­min D. Cal­cif­er­ol can be found both in mul­ti­vi­t­a­min com­plex­es and in the form of sep­a­rate prepa­ra­tions with chole­cal­cif­er­ol or ergo­cal­cif­er­ol. Accord­ing to the Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tion Vit­a­min D Coun­cil, it is best to choose prod­ucts with vit­a­min D3. When choos­ing, you need to con­sult with a spe­cial­ist who will help not only choose a vit­a­min com­plex, but also deter­mine its opti­mal dosage.

Research Continues: Interesting Facts About Vitamin D

Research Continues: Interesting Facts About Vitamin D

  • Vit­a­min D acti­vates spe­cif­ic genes that affect longevi­ty. It pro­tects the body from the neg­a­tive effects of beta-amy­loid pro­tein asso­ci­at­ed with the devel­op­ment of neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases and active aging of the body.

  • Researchers from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh have found that cal­cif­er­ol has a pos­i­tive effect on the repro­duc­tive sys­tem of the body.
  • Vit­a­min D defi­cien­cy increas­es the risk of devel­op­ing blad­der can­cer. This con­clu­sion was made by sci­en­tists from the Uni­ver­si­ty of War­wick.
  • A suf­fi­cient amount of cal­cif­er­ol enter­ing the body reduces the risk of devel­op­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases. Vit­a­min nor­mal­izes blood pres­sure and reduces the pro­duc­tion of cor­ti­sol, the so-called stress hor­mone.
  • Sun­burn can reduce the pro­duc­tion of vit­a­min D.
  • Vit­a­min D sup­ple­men­ta­tion in a wom­an’s diet dur­ing preg­nan­cy sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduces the risk of hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty and atten­tion deficit dis­or­der in her unborn child.
  • With a lack of cal­cif­er­ol in the male body, the like­li­hood of devel­op­ing prostate tumors increas­es by about five times. In addi­tion, this vit­a­min is direct­ly relat­ed to the pro­duc­tion of testos­terone. Accord­ing­ly, an increase in the amount of vit­a­min enter­ing the body of a man also increas­es the pro­duc­tion of the hor­mone.
  • To get enough vit­a­min D, you only need to expose your face and hands to direct expo­sure to ultra­vi­o­let radi­a­tion dai­ly for 5–15 min­utes.
  • Most often, cal­cif­er­ol defi­cien­cy occurs in the elder­ly, as well as in peo­ple with dark skin col­or and res­i­dents of high lat­i­tudes.
  • Approx­i­mate­ly 80% of peo­ple who are diag­nosed with frac­tures, accord­ing to the results of tests, suf­fer from a lack of vit­a­min D.
  • A lack of cal­cif­er­ol increas­es the risk of devel­op­ing depres­sion and brain dis­or­ders. Espe­cial­ly pre­dis­po­si­tion to these patholo­gies is affect­ed by vit­a­min defi­cien­cy in new­borns.


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