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Vitamin D through my eyes!

This is my opinion after the copious amounts of reading I do about trying to understand the body and what I implement for self-improvement. It is based on my reading, listening and understanding, I can read statements that don’t make sense to me, so I have to dig deeper, and I know that Vitamin D is a contentious subject, and there are lots of things to consider.


First controversy is that Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. Even Wikipedia says so: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_D At this point I would ask you to read the wiki article, so that will help back up some of what I say.


Are you getting enough?
Foods that contain Vitamin D

We get Vit D from two sources; naturally from sunlight, specifically UVB rays or from some foods; like the flesh of fatty fish, cod liver oil, prawns, oysters, eggs, beef liver, some cheeses, mushrooms (grown outdoors or if exposed to UVB rays. some farms grow them inside but use UVB light to grow them). It is said that if you leave mushrooms out in the sun (you don’t get UVB through glass) you can increase the Vit D content, but it needs to be receiving UVB.



Vitamin D is not instant, you do not get it just from exposing your skin. Sunlight plays a crucial role in the synthesis of vitamin D in the body through a process that starts in the skin. Here's a brief description of how it happens:


  1. UVB Radiation Exposure: When the skin is exposed to sunlight, specifically to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, a precursor molecule in the skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) absorbs this UVB radiation. 7-DHC is a type of cholesterol.

  2. Conversion to Previtamin D3: Upon absorption of UVB radiation, 7-DHC undergoes a structural change and is converted into previtamin D3.

  3. Thermal Isomerisation: Previtamin D3 is not yet biologically active. It needs to undergo a thermal process, triggered by body heat, to convert into its active form, known as vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol.

  4. Transport to the Liver and Kidneys: Once formed, vitamin D3 travels through the bloodstream to the liver, where it is hydroxylated (a hydroxyl group is added) to form 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]. This is the major circulating form of vitamin D.

  5. Further Hydroxylation in the Kidneys: Finally, 25(OH)D undergoes a second hydroxylation in the kidneys to form the biologically active form of vitamin D, which is known as calcitriol or 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D].


Another way to get Vitamin D
Love Sunshine

It's important to note that while sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D synthesis, factors such as skin pigmentation, sunscreen use, time of day, season, latitude, and age can influence the amount of vitamin D produced in the skin.

 

So, to get Vitamin D, we need to get sunshine on our skin, more specifically, UVB. But UVB isn’t always available. It is based on various factors such as the angle of the sun, the thickness of the Earth's atmosphere that sunlight passes through, and the time of day.


UVB rays are most effective for vitamin D synthesis when the sun is at a relatively high angle in the sky (around midday) because they have a shorter distance to travel through the atmosphere, and less of the UVB radiation is absorbed or scattered by atmospheric components like ozone, clouds, and pollution.


I read that the best way to work out if you are in the right place to start the Vitamin D processes in your body is if your shadow is shorter than you are. There are apps out there than can help you work this out, I use SunDay and when I opened it at 12noon and followed it’s processes it advised that if I stayed in the sun for 1 hour 20 minutes, I would get the equivalent of 1000iu. But 30 minutes later when I tested it again, it said I would need to be in the sun for 4 hours 30 minutes and I would only get 225iu. So, I think this proves a point that the closer you are to 12 noon the better it is. (This was on Saturday 15th March 2024) As we get closer to the summer solstice, the less time we need to spend in the sun.


Have I bored you yet? Vitamin D is vital for our wellbeing. But it is complicated. For a UK based person, I know that UVB rays change depending on time of year, and we only start generating vitamin D in our bodies from around 15th March until about the end of October. So, if you are lagging and feeling lethargic, then it could be that your stores of Vitamin D are almost depleted.

So, another interesting fact! Did you know we store Vitamin D?


The body can store vitamin D for varying lengths of time, depending on factors such as individual physiology, vitamin D intake, sun exposure, and overall health. Here's a general overview of how vitamin D is stored:

  1. Fat Tissue Storage: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it can be stored in the body's fat tissue. This storage helps maintain adequate levels during periods of reduced intake or limited sun exposure.

  2. Liver Storage: After being synthesized in the skin or absorbed from dietary sources, vitamin D undergoes initial processing in the liver, where it is converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], the major circulating form of vitamin D. Some vitamin D is stored in the liver.

  3. Duration of Storage: Vitamin D can be stored in the body for weeks to months. However, there isn't a precise timeframe applicable to everyone. Storage duration depends on factors such as the individual's vitamin D status, overall health, and any conditions affecting absorption or utilization of vitamin D.

  4. Release from Storage: When the body needs vitamin D, it can mobilize stored vitamin D from fat tissue and the liver. This stored vitamin D can then be converted into its active form, calcitriol, in the kidneys as needed to regulate calcium and phosphate levels in the body.


It's important to note that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels requires regular intake from dietary sources, and/or sufficient exposure to sunlight. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions, such as malabsorption disorders, liver or kidney disease, or obesity, may have altered storage and utilization of vitamin D.

 

Did I say it was complicated? It is, but I am hoping that this article makes it easier for you to understand.


So, this is also controversial. Sunscreen/sunblock/Suncream blocks UVB from contacting the skin. So, if you wear sun protection, how do you get vitamin D? It’s your skin, your body, you have to do what’s right for you. I have fair skin, but I make a point of getting in the sun to increase my vitamin D levels. I make sure that I do not burn, instead of creams, I put a hat on or wear floaty clothing, such as a loose cotton shirt. I will put an organic sun cream on if I am outside for longer than what I consider to be safe for my skin.


Additionally, the amount of skin you have on show, also increases the amount of Vitamin D you create. But remember, some of your skin is more sensitive. I know that my shoulders will colour up quicker than my legs, so the long sleeved cotton shirt, goes on as soon as I feel I have had enough.


This article is to give you more information on Vitamin D, so that you can be more aware. Here is a list of symptoms that you can get with a Vitamin D deficiency:


  1. Bone and Muscle Pain: Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption and bone health. Deficiency can lead to bone pain, muscle weakness, and increased risk of fractures.

  2. Fatigue and Weakness: Generalized fatigue, weakness, and a feeling of lethargy are common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.

  3. Depression and Mood Changes: There is some evidence to suggest that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

  4. Impaired Wound Healing: Vitamin D is involved in the regulation of the immune system and plays a role in wound healing. Deficiency may impair the body's ability to heal wounds efficiently.

  5. Hair Loss: Although less common, some individuals with vitamin D deficiency may experience hair loss or thinning hair.

  6. Frequent Illnesses: Vitamin D plays a role in the regulation of the immune system, and deficiency may increase susceptibility to infections and illnesses.

  7. Bone Deformities in Children: Severe vitamin D deficiency in children can lead to a condition called rickets, characterized by skeletal deformities, delayed growth, and soft bones.

  8. Muscle Cramps: Deficiency of vitamin D may contribute to muscle cramps and spasms.


In summary, Vitamin D is vital to our bodies. This article is to help you have a better understanding of how it works and how you can improve your intake.

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