Getting The D-Molecule

Morne Botha ( Dipl. Personal Training)

beach during sunset
Photo by Bella White on

Vitamin D is a nutrient that is essential for human health. The human body can produce vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, specifically to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. The process by which sunlight is converted to vitamin D in the body is a multi-step process.

When UVB radiation penetrates the skin, it interacts with a type of cholesterol molecule called 7-dehydrocholesterol that is present in the skin cells. This interaction causes a chemical reaction that converts 7-dehydrocholesterol into a molecule called previtamin D3.

After being delivered to the liver, previtamin D3 is altered and transformed into 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), a type of vitamin D used for storage. The predominant form of vitamin D present in blood is 25(OH)D, which the body may use as needed to keep calcium and phosphorus levels in a normal range.

Keeping your health at its best requires the fat-soluble vitamin vitamin D. Because the body can produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, it is sometimes referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” Many bodily processes, such as preserving strong bones and teeth, boosting the immune system, and controlling mood, all depend on vitamin D.

Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 are the two primary types of vitamin D. (cholecalciferol). While vitamin D2 is generally derived via fortified meals, vitamin D3 is also present in some animal-based foods and is created in the skin when exposed to sunshine. Both forms are physiologically active and may be changed into the active form of vitamin D in the liver and kidneys.

Ultimately, 25(OH)D is delivered to the kidneys, where it undergoes further modification to become 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D), which is the physiologically active form of vitamin D. 1,25(OH)2D is essential for controlling the body’s intake and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus, as well as for controlling the immune system, cell proliferation, and other activities.

A number of variables, such as the time of day, latitude, season, skin tone, age, and the area of exposed skin, affect how much vitamin D the skin produces in response to exposure to sunshine. Because vitamin D deficiency may cause a number of health issues, such as rickets, osteoporosis, and a higher chance of developing several cancers and autoimmune illnesses, it’s critical to receive adequate vitamin D from solar exposure and/or food sources.

A substance called vitamin D is crucial for maintaining human health. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that may be gained by eating specific foods and getting sunshine. One of the primary benefits of vitamin D is its role in helping the body absorb and use calcium, which is important for maintaining strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D also plays a role in regulating the immune system, as well as in cell growth and differentiation.

The following are a few advantages of vitamin D:

In the body, the synthesis of steroid hormones is significantly influenced by vitamin D. Vitamin D is specifically needed for the creation of cholesterol, a precursor molecule to steroid hormones. The production of various steroid hormones, including as cortisol, aldosterone, and sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen, depends on cholesterol.

The enzyme processes that transform cholesterol into these hormones require vitamin D as a cofactor. The production and activity of a few enzymes involved in these processes are considered to be enhanced by vitamin D. By controlling the receptors for these hormones in different tissues all over the body, vitamin D may also modify the action of these hormones.

Generally, vitamin D is a nutrient that is necessary for the generation of steroid hormones and for sustaining optimum hormone balance and general health, levels may be crucial.

Sturdy bones: Vitamin D aids in the body’s absorption of calcium and phosphorus, both of which are necessary for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. Osteoporosis and bone fractures can be avoided with a sufficient vitamin D consumption.

Enhanced immunological function: Vitamin D is important for immune system regulation and enough vitamin D consumption may help lower the risk of infections and autoimmune illnesses.

Decreased risk of some diseases: Research has revealed that getting enough vitamin D may lower your chance of developing certain cancers, heart disease, and neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis.

Enhanced mood: Vitamin D may influence mood, according to some studies, and low vitamin D levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing depression.

Decreased inflammation: Vitamin D contains anti-inflammatory characteristics and may aid in delaying the onset of inflammation in the body.

It is important to get enough vitamin D through sunlight exposure, dietary sources

  1. Fatty fish: Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are good sources of vitamin D. A 3-ounce serving of cooked salmon contains around 450 IU (International Units) of vitamin D.
  2. Fortified foods: Many foods, such as milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals, are fortified with vitamin D. Check the labels to see the amount of vitamin D in the product.
  3. Egg yolks: Egg yolks are a good source of vitamin D. One large egg yolk contains around 40 IU of vitamin D.
  4. Mushrooms: Some varieties of mushrooms, such as shiitake mushrooms, are exposed to UV light during growth, which increases their vitamin D content.
  5. Beef liver: Beef liver is a good source of vitamin D. A 3-ounce serving of beef liver contains around 42 IU of vitamin D.
  6. Cod liver oil: Cod liver oil is a supplement that is high in vitamin D, with one tablespoon providing around 1,360 IU of vitamin D.

For some people it is difficult to get enough of this wonderful molecule, through their diet. Having some short exposures to sunlight during the day may be very beneficial. It actually has amazing benefits.

Vitamin D production is increased by sunlight, which is beneficial for keeping strong bones and a robust immune system.

Sunlight exposure has been demonstrated to elevate mood, lessen depressive symptoms, and boost general emotions of contentment and wellbeing.

Sunlight exposure can help us sleep better and more regularly by regulating our circadian rhythm, which governs our sleep-wake cycle.

Promotes Skin Health: Sunshine can maintain healthy skin by enhancing blood flow, increasing the synthesis of collagen and elastin, and supporting general skin health.

Reduces Stress: Solar exposure helps to calm the body and mind, lower blood pressure, and lessen stress.

It’s important to note, however, that too much sun exposure can be harmful, so it’s important to limit sun exposure during peak hours. You basically need just like 15- 20 min per day of sun exposure. Most damage is being done by over exposure, so to build up the skin’s tolerance for sunlight is just “upping the dose” systematically. Start with least amount of time, and work up the time as you getting used.

I don’t recommend using sunscreen for the following reasons:

Hormone disruption: Studies on animals have demonstrated that some sunscreen chemicals, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, affect hormones. Although the amount of this risk for people is yet unknown, some experts have hypothesized that these components may be dangerous, particularly for kids and expectant mothers.

Reduced Vitamin D Production: Sunscreen can block UV radiation, which is necessary for the production of Vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D is an important nutrient for many aspects of health, so using too much sunscreen or not getting enough sun exposure can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency.

Skin irritation, itching, or hives may result from allergic responses to certain sunscreen chemicals in some persons.

Certain sunscreen chemicals, particularly those in those with sensitive skin, have the potential to irritate skin.

Environmental impact: Chemical sunscreens can have a negative impact on the environment, as they can wash off in water and accumulate in coral reefs, potentially causing damage to marine ecosystems.

Consult a healthcare professional about other options for sun protection if you are worried about the possible side effects of sunscreen. Searching for shade, donning protective clothes, “upping the tolerance”, avoiding the sun in peak time, and using sunscreen that uses mineral filters (like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) rather than chemical filters are a few possibilities.

Getting enough of this wonder vitamin is essential, and it is considered as a “steroid precursor, with a myriad of benefits. Please don’t rob yourself from its benefits

About the author: Morne Botha
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