Vitamin D: why do we talk about it so much and what does it have to do with your winter time health?
The way that our bodies make Vitamin D endogenously (on our own & without supplements) is through sun or UV exposure. If you can get outside for 15-60 minutes a day for some fresh air and sunshine, your body can start to make its own.
However at the latitude of the PNW, we get next to nothing in the way of UV exposure in our winter months. And if you happen to be darker skinned and/or advanced in your years, your body is even less efficient in grabbing what it needs from the sun. As a result, many of us do rely on supplementation to get the biologically active form of Vitamin D.
When most of us talk about Vitamin D supplementation, we are discussing the form Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol. This is important to know as not all prescription versions, supplements, or fortified foods contain this version. This is the biologically active version that our body needs for many of the tasks that Vitamin D is involved in.
And what exactly is Vitamin D3 up to in our bodies that affects our growing families?
– Calcium absorption in the intestines:
Calcium is an important nutrient for our bone development, but also for our muscles. The importance of Vitamin D applies to pregnant moms growing a baby’s bones & muscles in her body, a breastfeeding mother growing her baby’s bones & muscles outside of her body, growing children and teens, and keeping our bones & muscles strong as we age. Maintaining adequate Vitamin D levels has been linked to a 20% reduction in hip & non-spinal fractures.
– Immune modulation and reduction of inflammation:
This involves a series of signals and receptors such TLR and VDR, and the engagement of bacterialcidal or anti-bacterial activity. Vitamin D plays an important role in our body’s innate response to bacteria. As part of this process, many of our immune cells that fight off infections and decrease inflammation are also switched on.
This process is critical to preventing illnesses like colds and flu, autoimmune conditions such as Type 1 Diabetes, and even some cancers (including breast and prostate cancers)
This article (with its references at the end) is a great snapshot of what Vitamin D can do for your immune system this winter:
Be well! Sunita