For a long time, Vitamin D has been relegated to the bottom of the list when it comes to vitamin supplements. This is because many people had not realized the numerous benefits and the consequence of having low blood levels of this important vitamin. Today however, much research has been done as concerns vitamin D and many dietary supplement companies are now manufacturing this supplement. Here we will examine the benefits of vitamin D3 but first lets understand what is it.
What Is Vitamin D
A vitamin is an organic compound required by the body in small quantities for its proper functioning and sustaining of life. Vitamin D is one of these compounds. It is steroid in structure and acts as a fat-soluble prohormone which is converted by the ultraviolet radiations of the sunlight to its active form.
There are several forms of vitamin D numbered from 1 through 5. The most important of all these is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). This vitamin is found in the skin as an inert compound which is then undergoes hydroxylation by Ultraviolet radiations from the sun in order to be active. This hydroxylation reaction produces a compound known as calcitriol (1, 25-dihydroxycholecalciferol).
How Does Vitamin D3 Work?
The active form of vitamin D3 works by promoting the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the gastrointestinal system made available from diet. It also encourages reabsorption of calcium from the kidneys. Both of these actions increase the amount of these vital chemicals in the bloodstream which on the other hand mediate the health benefits of vitamin D3.
Both calcium and phosphorus affect bone metabolism and promote proper functioning of the muscles. Additionally calcium acts in the neuromuscular junction to mediate smooth transmission of impulses and therefore well-coordinated contraction and relaxation of the muscles. Vitamin D3 also works at the molecular level to affect several genes which consequential health benefits.
Benefits of Vitamin D3
There are so many benefits of vitamin D3 in many body systems as will be discussed here.
Maintenance of bone health:
Calcium and phosphorus are vital minerals in bone. Vitamin D3 is required for bone mineralization. This helps with bone strength, quality and proper function. Calcium and phosphorus are also required in teeth mineralization.
Although it is not clear how vitamin D3 affects weight, experts agree that it has effects on weight. People who start low carb diet with low levels of vitamin D3 may find it harder to lose weight than those who start with higher levels of this vitamin.
Regulates the immune system:
Being a steroidal compound, cholecalciferol modulates immune system by acting as an immunosuppressant. This can treat conditions such as allergies, autoimmune diseases as well as other immune diseases. People with asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis can all benefit from vitamin D3.
Treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus:
This is a disease that results from aberrant management of blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance or autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic islets. It can also result from obesity. Vitamin D3 reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Anti aging benefits:
With advancing age the body’s mechanism for absorbing vitamin D3 dwindles and this can lead to serious complications such as osteoporosis and joint disease. Calcitriol maintains bone mineralization and also brain function.
Protection from hypertension and heart attack:
Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with high risks of heart attack and premature death. Calcium is important in proper pumping action of the heart. Low levels can lead to arrhythmias which can cause heart attack and death.
Reduce risk of developing cancer:
Vitamin D3 works at molecular level to stabilize genes that have become cancerous. Low levels are associated with colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer as well as cervical cancer.
Why Should Vitamin D3 Levels Be Supplemented
As has already been mentioned, the active form of vitamin D3 is synthesized in the skin via hydroxylation by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. People in the tropics receive adequate amount of sunlight to produce the amounts of radiation needed to synthesize the vitamin.
People in the temperate latitudes and the arctic cycles may not receive enough sunlight exposure. In addition, cloud cover, smog and sunscreens may limit the amount of radiations reaching the skin. In these conditions there may be deficiency of vitamin D3 with many adverse effects including development of rickets in young children and osteomalacia in adults, hypocalcemic tetany and osteoporosis.
In this group of people with Vitamin D3 deficiency, supplementation is vital if all these side effects are to be controlled. There are many vitamin D3 supplements in the market that can provide adequate blood levels of this hormone. It is important to know your vitamin D levels so that you know what to supplement.