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Sunshine,VitaminD,andBoneHealth

VitaminDisuniqueamongvitaminsinthatourbodycanmakeallitneedswith helpfromthesun.Whentheultravioletrayshitourskin,ourbodiescanmake vitaminD.WecanproducemorevitaminDduringthesummermonthsduemore sunlight.Whenwedonotgetenoughsun,weneedtogetvitaminDfromthe foodweeat.Becauseitisafatsolublevitamin,vitaminDisstoredintheliverand adipose(fat)tissueandcanbecometoxic.Recently,vitaminDhasreceiveda decentamountofpressbecausemanyAmericansdonotgetenough;byone estimate,morethanathirdofyoungadultsmaytakeintoolittle.Whyisthis vitaminsoimportanttoourbonehealthandhowcanwebesurewearegetting enoughofthisvitalnutrient? OneofthemajorrolesofvitaminD,whichisalsoahormone,istoregulateour bloodcalciumlevels.Calciumisindispensabletotheproperfunctioningofallour bodytissuesincludingmuscles,nerves,andglands.Thesetissuesdrawcalcium fromthebloodasneeded.Hence,theremustbeaconstantsupplyofcalcium. Ourskeletonactsasacalciumreserve.Whencalciumintakeislow,ourblood calciumlevelismaintainedattheexpenseofourbones.InadequatevitaminD setsthestageforlossofcalciumfromtheboneswhichcanresultinfracturesfrom osteoporosis. Toreplenishbloodcalcium,vitaminDactsatthreebodylocationstoraiseblood calciumlevels:1)skeleton,2)digestivetractwherefoodbringsincalcium,and 3)kidneyswhichcanrecyclecalciumthatwouldotherwidebelostinurine. Calciumisthemostabundantmineralinthebodyandisamajorcomponentof ourbones99%ofourcalciumstoresareinthebonesandteeth.Therefore, withoutenoughVitaminD,ourbonehealthiscompromised.Rickets,avitaminD deficiencydisease,ischaracterizedbyabnormalbonegrowthinchildren. Deficiencyforadultsresultsinapainfulbonediseaseknownasosteomalacia;the bonesbecomeincreasinglysoft,brittle,anddeformed.

OncevitaminDisproducedinskinorconsumedinourfood,itrequireschemical conversionintheliverandkidney.CalcitriolistheprimaryformofvitaminDin thebody;itisconvertedfromcalcidiolinthekidneys.Calcitriolthentravelsto variouspartsofthebodytodoitswork. VitaminDstimulatesmaturationofcells,includingimmunecellsthatdefend againstdisease.VitaminDalsoactsongenes,affectinghowcellsgrow,multiply, andspecialize.Becausethisvitaminisstoredinthebody,itispossibletohavetoo much.VitaminDisthemostpotentiallytoxicofallvitaminsgenerallydueto takingsupplements.Intakesof5xrecommendationshavebeenassociatedwith signsofvitaminDtoxicity.TheDRI(DietaryReferenceIntakes)forvitaminDare: 5micrograms(g)/day=ages1950 10micrograms=ages5170 15micrograms=71+ TheUL(upperintakelevel)is50microgramsperday(2,000IUonsupplement labels).ToxicityfromtoomuchvitaminDincludescalcificationofbloodvessels, kidneys,heart,lungs,andtissuesofjoints.Pleasebewareofsupplementation!! ToreceivevitaminDfromthesun,thepigmentofyourskinisafactor.Thedarker theskin,thelongerexposuretodirectsunlightisneededevenasmuchasthree hoursdependingontheclimate.Lightskinnedpeopleneedmuchless10to15 minutes.SunscreeninhibitsvitaminDabsorption,butyoucannotgettoomuch vitaminDfromthesun;thesunitselfbeginstobreakdownexcessvitaminDinthe skin.Besidesthesun,richsourcesforvitaminDincludefortifiedmilk,salmon(3 oz.=4.3g)shrimp(3oz.=3.0g),liver,andsardines. Remembertogetalittlesun,and/oreatfoodsrichinvitaminDsoyourbonesand tissueswillstayhealthyandfunctionproperly!!