Considered to be an essential hormone for maintaining the body’s calcium and phosphate homeostasis (the balance between calcium and phosphate ions, in crystal form in the bones and dissolved in the blood), vitamin D helps to maintain:
Vitamin D is thus essential in order for the body to function properly and we therefore need to maintain adequate levels if we want to remain healthy.
There are two main forms of vitamin D:
The amount of ergocalciferol we get from the diet is very low. Indeed, most of the vitamin D in the body comes from an endogenous source: it is the combination of the skin and the sun which provide most of the body’s bioavailable vitamin D.
Well, no – that’s where the problem lies. In fact, vitamin D biosynthesis is initiated in the skin when UVB rays react with 7-dehydrocholesterol (pro-vitamin D in the epidermis) to produce pre-vitamin D3, which is then isomerised into cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) (5).
Now, windows let UVA rays through... but they block UVB. So while the sun is still able to damage the skin through a pane of glass by generating oxidative stress which accelerates skin aging, it cannot provide any benefits. We can neither synthesise vitamin D nor get a suntan from behind a window (because it’s also UVB rays that have this tanning effect).
What’s more, the ratio between UVA and UVB from the sun varies throughout the year (7). When we who live in the northern hemisphere go outside in the winter months, we receive very little UVB, but a lot of UVA. Conversely, the UVB percentage increases in summer - though UVB has its bad side too. It poses a risk to our skin and health in general, so it’s important to be careful about directly exposing your skin to the sun. To give itself some protection from UVB, the body also makes melanin which produces a kind of barrier in the form of a suntan.
Broadly speaking, lack of vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies in Western countries. According to a 2012 report by the French Academy of Medicine, previously referred to in our article on the most common dietary deficiencies, 80% of people in France were deficient in vitamin D (8), and the Academy therefore recommended supplementation for the whole population.
It’s important to realise that deficiency in vitamin D can:
Those with a sensitive stomach can opt for Vitamin D3 Spray 2000 IU, which is sprayed under the tongue.
If you’d prefer a plant-source vitamin D supplement, choose Vegan D3, an excellent source of cholecalciferol extracted from algae, combined with coconut oil MCTs for optimal absorption.
Discover how the body’s immune system works, and the 5 most effective supplements for helping to maintain this vital, natural shield.
Often referred to as a ‘miracle algae’, spirulina is a superfood highly recommended by the WHO. But what exactly is it? What benefits does it offer and how much do you need?
Taking optimal care of your natural defences begins as soon as you jump out of bed! Adopt this healthy routine to help boost your immunity.
Neem, or margosa, is a renowned Indian tree, the Sanskrit name of which - ‘nimba’ - means ‘to give good health’. Does it genuinely benefit the immune system and how can you get the most out of it?
Can you name 5 plants that help support the body’s defenses? If the answer is no, get up to speed now with our list of plants known to benefit the immune system.
Zinc is known to be excellent for the immune system. Discover the ten best dietary sources of this trace-element. Can you guess which food takes the top spot?