What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an important micronutrient known for its association with the sun. Vitamin D is fat-soluble (meaning that the body absorbs these vitamins as it does dietary fats) and plays a critical role in the absorption of various minerals, especially calcium.
Generally, Vitamin D can be obtained from foods commonly found in our diet, but it can also be synthesized by cells in lower layers of the skin following UV exposure. It plays an active role in the treatment of several diseases, but its usage in many other complex diseases is currently being studied and keenly debated.
Why does it matter?
- Vitamin D binds to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) which then allows cells to produce proteins important for transporting minerals such as calcium.
- As Vitamin D plays an important role in normal calcium metabolism, it makes sense that diseases of bone health are often treated with Vitamin D supplements, including Rickets, Osteomalacia, and Osteoporosis.
- Calcium is not only important for bones so stay with us on this one! Calcium is an important way for cells to respond to a stimulus. In fact, when immune cells are activated in the laboratory, a compound that transports calcium is required. This means that regular calcium metabolism is important for a normal immune response and can be a potential way that Vitamin D affects diseases.
Where can I find Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is primarily found in animal products such as fatty fish or red meats. It is also found in Mushrooms (31.9-26.2μg/100g) and in fortified (added-in) foods such as milk and other dairy products.
Vitamin D is typically not found in fruit or vegetable products. However, eating Vitamin D rich foods will help ensure normal calcium metabolism. To find out more facts on produce that is high in calcium, click here.
Daily recommended intakes:
Daily recommended doses vary depending on the advising body, but here are some recommendations across the world:
To Wrap It Up
Vitamin D plays a key role in transporting calcium and other minerals. Irrespective of the fact that proving deficiency is difficult, we should all try and get some adequate Vitamin D either through food ($$$) or UV exposure (free and nourishing!!).
Vitamin D is both a steroid and a hormone!
Fear not, as these are just chemical classifications for compounds of certain structures. Steroids are a class of chemicals that are derived from a 4-ring carbon structure. Hormones are molecules that signal a reaction from another part of the body. In short, they can do some really useful things to help us sustain ourselves.
Just because steroids and hormones are negatively associated primarily with dishonesty in sport, it does not automatically mean that all steroids and hormones are bad. Some steroids like Vitamin D are good and necessary!