Function: Vitamin D3 is the principal regulator of calcium status in the body. It is essential for skeletal development and bone mineralization- in other words it keeps our bones strong and healthy. Vitamin D is a prohormone with no hormone activity. It is converted to a molecule that has activity in our body. The active form of the vitamin is 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, usually referred to as vitamin D3.
It is synthesized in the skin from the sun (gives us something called- 7-dehydrocholesterol). Inadequate exposure to sunlight contributes to vitamin D deficiency as does chronic inflammation (through using more vitamin D to regulate inflammation). Vitamin D deficiency in adults can lead to osteoporosis. This results from a increase in the production of parathyroid hormone resulting in something called bone resorption. Increasing evidence is accumulating that vitamin D may also contribute to an antioxidant function in the body. The mechanism of the antioxidant effect is unknown. Vitamin D is also needed for adequate blood levels of insulin. Vitamin D receptors have been identified in the pancreas.
Deficiency Symptoms: Osteoporosis results from an imbalance between bone resorption and bone formation. Decreased vitamin D levels result in decreased production of the active vitamin form, vitamin D3. Vitamin D enhances the efficiency of calcium absorption. Chronic vitamin D deficiency results in decreased calcium absorption and secondary hyperparathyroidism. Vitamin D3 has been found to have anticarcinogenic activity, including apoptosis in many types of cancer cells including breast and colon. It has also been useful in the treatment of psoriasis when applied topically. Vitamin D appears to demonstrate both immune enhancing and immunosuppressive effects.
Immune function: Vitamin D is a key component of our immune function and plays an important role in keeping the gastrointestinal barrier intact. Those that are low often experience weakened immune systems and depression.
Inflammation: Vitamin D is a potent modulator of inflammation and helps turn off chronic inflammatory responses; inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokine production (constant inflammation cycle).
Gastrointestinal: Keeps gut flora healthy by protecting health supporting bacteria. Activates the body’s “adaptive immunity” that originates in the GI tract; helps keep the lining intact.