Your A to Z of Complementary Health & Healing


Vitamins and Minerals

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Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is produced in the body by the action of sunlight on the skin. There are two types of vitamin D, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 and it is vitamin D3 which is made by the action of sunlight. It is the only vitamin that the body manufactures naturally and is technically considered a hormone.

Rich sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as herring, salmon, pilchards, sardines and tuna. Eggs, and margarine which is fortified with the vitamin, are also a good source of vitamin D. Those who have a deficiency in vitamin D may suffer from bone pain, muscular weakness and spasm, osteoporosis, tooth decay and premature aging.

While just 10 to 15 minutes in the summer sun a few days a week supplies enough vitamin D, those who can't get out in the sun may require a supplement. People who work at night, live in high polluted areas, or wear traditional clothing that covers most of the body may benefit from an extra dose of vitamin D which can be taken in the form of cod liver oil.
By promoting the absorption and balance of calcium and phosphorous in the body, vitamin D strengthens the bones and teeth and also allows for normal muscle contraction and nerve function. It is also useful for boosting immunity and blood cell formation. In addition, vitamin D supplements may slow down or even reverse some cancers.
Vitamin D may contribute towards easing back pain. Individuals who are prone to back problems may benefit from taking vitamin D because of its ability to encourage strong bones and cartilage.
The body cannot absorb calcium from food or supplements without a sufficient intake of vitamin D. If calcium levels in the blood are too low, the body will steal it from the bones and supply the muscles and nerves with the amount they need. Over time, the loss of calcium in the bones can lead to osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become porous and susceptible to fractures. After menopause, women are particularly at risk for developing this condition. Vitamin D, taken along with calcium plays a critical role in maintaining bone density.
Because it plays a role in skin cell metabolism and growth, vitamin D may be helpful in treating the itching and flaking associated with a skin condition called psoriasis. Some studies show that individuals with psoriasis have low levels of this vitamin.
Vitamin D is the most toxic of all the vitamins, so supplements should be taken with care. If you are unsure about the dosages, please consult with your health practitioner.

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