Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is produced by our bodies in response to sunlight. It exists in two forms – Vitamin D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 is obtained from UV irradiation and is found naturally occurring in sun-exposed mushrooms.* Vitamin D3 occurs when sunlight strikes the skin and is synthesized into its most bioavailable form.* Our bodies do not produce vitamin D2 and most oil-rich fish contain vitamin D3. Vitamin D (representing D2, D3, or both) is absorbed into the lymphatic system where it enters into the bloodstream. It then requires further processing by the liver and kidneys to become biologically active and used to optimize cellular health!
Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps its most pivotal role is to regulate and enhance calcium and phosphorus absorption in the body. Without vitamin D, approximately 10- to 15-percent of dietary calcium and 60-percent of phosphorus can actually be absorbed!** Receiving sufficient amounts of vitamin D is vital for the growth and development of our bones and teeth. It helps build stronger bones by increasing the absorption of calcium and can also improve overall muscular function – possibly improving balance and decreasing the likelihood of falling or suffering from a bone fracture.**
Emerging research suggests a relationship between vitamin D and mood regulation. There are receptors in the brain that receive chemical signals that direct a cell to divide, die or execute a specific function. Some of these vitamin D receptors in the brain are located in areas associated with depression and other mental health disorders.*** A deficiency of vitamin D may be one of the factors contributing to a depressed nervous system. The amount of daylight exposure you receive is also crucial in maintaining a regular circadian rhythm. Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, has a wide range of effects on our brains, from improving sleep to synchronizing our biological clocks, and lowering stress reactivity. Distorted circadian rhythms can induce symptoms of depression depending on the pattern of disruption.
The amount of time needed to generate enough vitamin D varies between individuals. Protect your skin by sourcing shady areas, wearing protective clothing, applying (and re-applying) a broad spectrum sunscreen, and basking in sunlight responsibly. Vitamin D can also be found in foods like salmon, sardines, egg yolks along with fortified beverages, cereals, and yoghurt.
We hope you and your families are enjoying the sunshine this summer!