Vitamin D (also referred to as calciferol) is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.
Our primary source of vitamin D is sunlight. When our skin is exposed to UVB rays from sunlight, a cholesterol derivative in the skin undergoes a transformation, converting it into vitamin D3. This active form is then further metabolized by the liver and kidneys to become the biologically active form of vitamin D that the body can use.
Sources: Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such assalmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. An animal’s diet affects the amount of vitamin D in its tissues. Egg yolks and cheese have small amounts of vitamin D, primarily in the form of vitamin D3. Mushrooms provide variable amounts of vitamin D2. Some mushrooms available on the market have been treated with UV light to increase their levels of vitamin D2.
One of the most well-known roles of vitamin D is its involvement in maintaining strong and healthy bones. Vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the intestines, essential minerals for bone mineralization.
Immune System Support:
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in supporting the immune system. Research suggests that vitamin D may enhance the innate immune response and help modulate inflammatory processes. Adequate vitamin D levels have been associated with a reduced risk of respiratory infections and autoimmune disorders.
Mood and Mental Health:
There is growing evidence linking vitamin D to mood and mental health. The receptors for vitamin D are found in areas of the brain associated with mood regulation. Some studies suggest that maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels may be associated with a lower risk of depression and other mood disorders.
Beyond its usual association with bone health, vitamin D is a versatile nutrient. Maintaining normal vitamin D levels has numerous benefits, including immune system support, mood regulation, and potential prevention of chronic diseases. Even if it’s a natural and useful source, it’s essential to find a balance to prevent overexposure.As with any nutrient, individuals should consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most appropriate sources and levels of vitamin D for their particular needs.