The Nutrient Vitamin D - Why It's So Important
of the body.  When the body is deficient in one or more essential nutrients, it
increases the risk of developing chronic illnesses.  

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is the direct cause of rickets and osteomalacia.  Rickets is a
bone disease that occurs in children and osteomalacia is a bone disease that occurs
in adutls.  Both diseases are characterized by an inability to calcify the bone matrix.  
This results include the softening of scull bones, bowing of legs, spinal curvature, and
increased joint size.  Due to more awareness and supplementation of vitamin D,
these bone diseases are now extremely rare.   Vitamin D deficiency has also been
linked to the occurrence  and progression of several other illnesses and conditions
such as those mentioned above.  Supplementing with adequate amounts of vitamin
D in order to increase vitamin D levels to normal, provides relief and healing for many
chronic illnesses.  Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include exclusively breast fed
infants, individuals with dark skin tones, the elderly, covering all exposed skin or using
sunscreen whenever outside, fat malabsorption syndromes, inflammatory bowel
disease, and obesity.   Getting and maintaining normal vitamin D levels is essential for
the prevention of Rickets and many chronic illnesses linked to vitamin D deficiency.  

Vitamin D3 and Sunlight

Vitamin D can be produced in our bodies by the action of sunlight on the skin.  Due to
this reason, many experts consider it to be more of a hormone than a vitamin.  
Either way, Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that the body requires.   In the skin,
sunlight changes the precursor of vitamin D (7-dehydrocholesterol) into vitamin D3
(cholecalciferol).  Then, vitamin D3 is transported to the liver and converted by an
enzyme into 25 OHD3 (25 hydroxycholecalciferol) which is five times more potent
than vitamin D3.   Then, 25-OHD3 is converted by an enzyme in the kidneys into
2 D3.  1,25-(OH)2 D3 is ten times more potent than the most potent form
of vitamin D3.  Disorders of the liver or kidneys result in the inability to properly
convert vitamin D3 into more potent forms of vitamin D.  

Studies show that people with dark-colored skin synthesize less vitamin D on
exposure to sunlight than those with light-colored skin. The risk of vitamin D
deficiency is particularly high in dark-skinned individuals who live far away from the
equator.  The elderly have reduced capacity to synthesize vitamin D in skin when
exposed to UV rays from sunlight.  Also, the elderly are more likely to stay indoors or
use sunscreen, which blocks the synthesis of vitamin D.   For best vitamin D
absorption from sunlight, it is best to avoid covering up all areas of the skin when
outdoors on a warm sunny day.  Using sunscreen with an SPF factor of 8 reduces
production of vitamin D by 95%.  Another option for getting vitamin D through UV
rays is through the use of indoor UV lamps and tanning systems.  Due to the
hazardous x-rays of conventional tanning beds, tanning beds in tanning salons are
not a safe option for getting adequate levels of vitamin D.  

Food Sources of Vitamin D

Although most dairy products in the US are fortified with vitamin D, there are some
natural food sources of vitamin D.  Natural food sources of vitamin D include cold
water fish such as salmon; mackerel; sardines; and tuna, butter, egg yolks,
mushrooms grown and harvested outdoors, and dark green leafy vegetables.  

Although cod liver oil contains a potent amount of vitamin D, it also contains a toxic
level of vitamin A.  Like vitamin D, vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin.  Unlike water
soluble vitamins that pass through urine when the body has retained what it needs,
fat soluble vitamins are stored in the fat cells of the body.  Taking excessive amounts
of fat soluble vitamins increases the risk of vitamin toxicity.  Vitamin A can be found
in two principle forms: retinol (the form of vitamin A absorbed when eating animal
food sources), and carotenes (the form of vitamin A absorbed when eating plant
food sources).   Vitamin A toxicity is caused by the overconsumption of preformed
vitamin A (retinol), not the vitamin A from carotenes.  Although vitamin A is an
essential nutrient, consumption of excess preformed vitamin A during pregnancy is
known to cause birth defects.  Vitamin A toxicity has been linked to several other
conditions including dry itchy skin, loss of appetite, headaches, cerebral edema, and
bone and joint pain.  

Vitamin D3 Supplements

Before taking vitamin D3 supplements, it's important to first take the vitamin D test.  
The vitamin D test measures vitamin D levels to ensure adequate intake of vitamin D
and to prevent vitamin D overdose.  The recommended form of vitamin D through
supplementation is vitamin D3.   Most milk and dairy products are supplemented with
vitamin D3 as well.  If they're supplemented with vitamin D3 it will be indicated on the

To learn more about vitamin D including testing for deficiency, you may visit the


Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Murray , Michael N.D.. The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods.
New York: Atria Books, 2005.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble, essential
nutrient especially well known for its
role in  promoting and stimulating
calcium absorption, which is needed
particularly for the development and
maintenance of healthy bones.  
Extensive studies have revealed that
vitamin D is also essential for the
prevention and treatment of several
illnesses and conditions including
autism, cancer, depression, mental
illness, alzheimer's, preeclampsia in
pregnant women, diabetes, and liver
disease.  Like other essential
nutrients, vitamin D is necessary for
the proper functioning and wellbeing
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