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Vitamin D

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Vitamin D Benefits

What does Vitamin D do? The link between vitamin D and strong healthy bones was made many years ago when doctors realized that sunlight, which allows you to produce vitamin D, or taking cod liver oil, which contains vitamin D, helped to prevent rickets in children. Today, vitamin D is seen as a vital part of good health and it’s important not just for the health of your bones. Recent research is now showing that vitamin D may be important in preventing and treating a number of serious long term health problems.

Vitamin D isn’t like most other vitamins. Your body can make its own vitamin D when you expose your skin to sunlight. But your body can’t make other vitamins. You need to get other vitamins from the foods you eat. For example, you need to get vitamin C from fruits and vegetables.

Also, compared to other vitamins,  what makes vitamin D unique is that when your body gets its vitamin D, it turns vitamin D into a hormone. This hormone is sometimes called “activated vitamin D” or “calcitriol.”

Vitamin D is very important for strong bones. Calcium and phosphorus are essential for developing the structure and strength of your bones, and you need vitamin D to absorb these minerals. Even if you eat foods that contain a lot of calcium and phosphorus, you can’t absorb them into your body without enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for general good health, and researchers now are discovering that vitamin D may be important for many other reasons outside of good bone health. Some of the functions of the body that vitamin D helps with include:

  • Boost immune system, which helps you to fight infection
  • Improve muscle function
  • Improve cardiovascular function, for a healthy heart and circulation
  • Improve respiratory system for healthy lungs and airways
  • Enhance brain development

Severe vitamin D deficiency can sometimes cause a condition called rickets in children and a condition called osteomalacia in adults. Both of these conditions cause soft, thin, and brittle bones.

How Does Vitamin D Work?

Vitamin D manages calcium in your blood, bones and gut and helps cells all over your body to communicate properly.

When your skin is exposed to the sun, it produces vitamin D and sends it to your liver. If you take supplements or eat foods that contain vitamin D, your gut also sends the vitamin D to your liver. From here, your liver changes it to a substance called 25(OH)D. When your doctor talks about your vitamin D levels, he means the amount of 25(OH)D you have in your blood.

This chemical is sent all over your body where different tissues, including your kidney, turn it into activated vitamin D. This activated vitamin D is now ready to perform its duties. From here, it gets a little complicated, but you can think of activated vitamin D working in two ways:

  1. Manages calcium in your blood, bones and gut
  2. Helps cells all over your body to communicate properly

As you can see, vitamin D goes a long way from its original form from the skin, supplement or food. But without vitamin D, your body can’t perform at its best.

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