Vitamin D is actually a type of hormone and produced by our skin with the help of ultraviolet light. When we are exposed to sunlight, the ultraviolet rays strikes the 7-dehydrocholesterol molecule that’s converted to provitamin D. This nutrient is produced by the UV-B wavelength, at about 282nm. At this wavelength, the ultraviolet rays don’t penetrate transparent surface well.
So, we won’t get the full benefit if we are behind the window. Clothing is another thing that obstructs the UV-B from reaching our skin, so it is a good idea to wear the least clothes. Dark-skinned people block more ultraviolet ray, so they need to get exposed with sunlight longer to get the same benefit.
Sunlight isn’t enough; we also need to eat good food to increase the production of vitamin D. These include fortified milk, phytoplankton, mushroom, algae, dark green vegetables, butter, egg yolk, liver, mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines and cod liver oil. It should be noted that older people have less ability to produce vitamin D in their skin. This is because they already experience declines in kidney and liver functions.
Older people also have poorer digestive efficiency and this causes worse absorption. People with more severe malabsorption problems, kidney diseases and issues with their pancreas and liver could also have vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a fat soluble substance and it requires precholesterol. Alternatively, we can use artificial light to produce enough vitamin D in our skin. Some tanning equipments can be used if they have enough UV-B ratio.
To meet our vitamin D needs, we should be exposed with at least 15 minutes of sunlight before midday, 3 times a week. Unfortunately, pregnant and nursing mothers may not get enough sun; but vitamin D is important for their infants. Babies who have mothers with adequate vitamin D could have stronger bones and other positive health parameters.
Vitamin D is one of the most important hormones and it affects the absorption of phosphorus and calcium in our intestinal tracts. In reality, vitamin D doesn’t only affect calcium absorption. It also affects paracrine and autocrine cellular functions; as well as cell growth. We will also have improved muscle coordination and strength. People who have enough vitamin D could get enhanced energy metabolism and immunity.
Vitamin D is also important for babies, because it can affect brain development. In general, many biochemistry, physiology and anatomy aspects are influenced by vitamin D. We shouldn’t ignore Mother Nature, because we will pay the price. Human is designed as an outdoor creature and our skin should be exposed to sun, at least 10 minutes each day.
People with vitamin D deficiency could have immune suppression, increased infection, psoriasis, rickets, blood clotting abnormalities, thyroid dysfunctions, deafness, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, kidney diseases, vision loss, insomnia, chronic fatigue, muscle pain and liver disease.
Many people are concerned about the risk of skin cancer if they are exposed to sun. In general, bad things won’t happen as long as we don’t get sunburned. Sunburn is the first indication of excessive exposure to sunlight and if we are prudent enough to avoid it; it is unlikely for sun to cause cancer.
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