What's the Deal With Vitamin D? (Part I) -- By Conner Keyeski, ARPN
Vitamin D has gotten a lot of buzz recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since we often monitor vitamin D levels in our patients, I wanted to provide an overview of how it can help us stay healthier.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for many bodily functions, but it is also a hormone that our body produces. When our skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet B rays, it combines with cholesterol to initiate the process of producing vitamin D. A few of the areas of our health that can benefit from vitamin D include:
Vitamin D helps promote calcium absorption in our gut and maintain adequate calcium and phosphate levels to assist in bone growth and bone remodeling. Low levels of vitamin D can cause bones to become weak and brittle, increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Vitamin D helps stimulate our innate immune system, which is our first line of defense against invading pathogens. It also plays a key role in our adaptive immune system by suppressing inflammation and promoting immune tolerance. Many studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can make people more prone to infection as well as having a more severe course of illness. This is where vitamin D deficiency and Covid-19 have been discussed and linked to worse outcomes.
Adequate levels of vitamin D can help with our mental health as well. Depression, mood disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and cognitive impairment are some of the ways low vitamin D levels can affect our mental well-being. Seasonal affective disorder has a strong correlation to vitamin D deficiency as it occurs in climates where there is less sunlight during winter months.
Vitamin D helps regulate the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which influences blood pressure regulation, enhances vascular cell growth, and impacts the inflammatory and fibrotic pathways. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with arterial stiffening, enlarged hearts and high cholesterol.
Vitamin D helps glucose metabolism by stimulating insulin secretion and improving pancreatic beta-cell functioning. In diabetes, this reduces peripheral insulin resistance and helps to lower blood sugar.
All of these areas of health are central for us to consider at Atma Clinic as we focus on personalized health care for our patients. That's one reason we often monitor vitamin D levels and assess potential risks for vitamin D deficiency.
In the coming month, I will discuss sources of vitamin D and things to consider when supplementing vitamin D.
Explore the Atma difference for your health. Learn more about Conner and our other practitioners here. Contact us today for your first (free) visit at 785/760-0695.