Despite its name, Vitamin D is strictly a hormone not a vitamin. Its synthesised by the skin on exposure to sunlight and unlike other vitamins such as C or Niacin we don’t rely on our diet for it. Our main source of vitamin D is skin synthesis by the conversion of the steroid 7-dehydrocholesterol. The amount of vitamin D produced depends on the length of exposure to sunlight, wavelength of UV light, sunscreen, cloudiness, pollution and area of skin exposed. The correct UV wavelength needed is 290-315nm (in the UK this is only summer time) and exposure of the arms and hands for 10 minutes will produce the equivalent of 200IU of vitamin D. Darker skins need longer. Research showed that 90% of African Americans were deficient and 60% of the entire country was deficient in Vitamin D. An SPF of 15 reduces the skins ability to produce vitamin D by 95% and exposure through glass or a window also does not work as it cuts out the majority of UVB radiation. Vitamin D is produced by the body mainly. When the skin is exposed to UVB vitamin D is synthesised. As a fat-soluble vitamin it is transported to the liver and kidneys where it is converted into activated vitamin D and taken up by the tissues.
Initially vitamin D was thought to only be related to bone health and calcium regulation however we now know that vitamin D receptors exist everywhere in the body even in the brain where it stimulates the production of serotonin which explains why it may be useful in SAD or even general depression. Studies show that vitamin D helps preserve muscle function and strength whilst other studies show enhanced sun exposure reduces death rates from internal cancers including colon, breast, prostate and ovarian. Other studies show it helps prevent infectious diseases and upper respiratory tract infections and well as inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis MS, and periodontitis. Its link to obesity lies with the fact that fat cells also have vitamin D receptors which become more active when vitamin D is present and also secrete the hormone leptin that tells your body it is full. In addition vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a higher incidence in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Mushrooms are one of the most abundant sources of Vitamin D. Our Natural and Organic Vitamin D complex is derived from Agaricus mushrooms which just like humans produce Vitamin D when exposed to UVB. These certified organic mushrooms are exposed to UVB to optimum Vitamin D and of course all the other nutrients present in mushrooms. Combined with Organic Alfalfa they provide 400IU of Vitamin D per capsule and the phytonutrients present in Alfalfa.
SAD and Vitamin D
Chronic Vitamin D deficiency affects the brain and the mood. In the summer, the sunshine (provided you get adequate exposure without burning of course), a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and salads raises Vitamin D levels and Calcium absorption and therefore serotonin production. In winter Vitamin D levels fall dramatically, serotonin production drops and SAD or depression can set in. Even in sunny countries if individuals get no sun exposure, they will result in a lack of Vitamin D. The brain is the first organ to detect Vitamin D deficiency in the form of severe fatigue which may be why we feel so tired in winter and more unhappy.
Vitamin D and Obesity
Weight gain can be associated with Vitamin D deficiency. Low Calcium absorption due to a lack of Vitamin D can trigger the release of para thyroid hormone which increases the concentration of activated Vitamin D in cells which in turn trigger them to store more fat.
Vitamin D and Pain
Research on several hundred patients with chronic back pain without diagnosis showed that 83% had a vitamin D deficiency and supplanting with Vitamin D eliminated their back pain.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
Typical symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include:
• Joint pain and/or swelling
• Muscle pain, cramping, and/or weakness
• Chronic pain
• Uncontrolled weight gain
• High blood pressure
• Restless sleep
• Poor concentration and memory
• Bowel problems (constipation, diarrhoea, or both)
• Bladder problems (urgency, frequency, or both)
Diseases associated with lack of Vitamin D include:
• Depression, including seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
• Parkinson’s disease
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Arthritis (osteoarthritis, gout, tendinitis, bursitis)
• Gum disease and tooth loss
• Heart disease
• Metabolic syndrome
• Autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosis)
In short, this sunshine vitamin can really help both overall health and wellbeing.
Find the Vitamin D supplement here: Natural Vitamin D