The Role of Vitamin D

The Role of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a hormone that is naturally produced in our bodies. Only 10% of Vitamin D comes from our food. The body makes most of the hormone from sunlight (hence, Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin). There are many forms of Vitamin D, but the most important forms are:

  • Calcitriol (or 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D)
  • Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2)
  • Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)
  • Calcidiol (25-hydroxyvitamin D)

When sunlight touches our skin, it causes a substance called Cholecalciferol to be converted to Calcidiol. This happens in the liver. Calcidiol then is converted to Calcitriol in the kidneys. Calcitriol is the active form of the hormone. Doctors will often measure the level of Calcidiol in your body to assess for Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is very important for bone mineralization & regulates blood Calcium levels. This helps promote bone growth & slows down osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps to prevent Rickets (in children) & Osteomalacia (in Adults). However, since Vitamin D has now been found to be an important regulator of various chemical reactions in the body, its deficiency is now being linked to Diabetes, certain cancers, Multiple Sclerosis, Depression, Heart Disease, Hypertension, Stroke, Arthritis, Autoimmune disorders, & decreased immunity. Although the direct mechanisms of actions are still unknown.

Certain physical signs of Vitamin D deficiency are:

  • Weakness/Fatigue
  • Chronic pain (Bone or muscle)
  • Depression
  • Recurrent Fractures
  • Frequent infections
  • Impaired wound healing

Most people do not experience these symptoms until the deficiency is severe. Therefore, the American Endocrinology Association recommend Vitamin D screening in high-risk people.

Risk factors:

  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Individuals with darker skin
  • Lactating/Pregnant Women
  • Patient with malabsorption syndromes
  • Patients with weakness, depression, & chronic pain

The Vitamin D Council recommend 2000 IU of Vitamin D/day for healthy adults who have moderate sun exposure. This level can vary based on sun exposure, age, & symptoms.

Would you like to have your Vitamin D level tested? Please visit any of our Medical Access Clinics in Germantown, MD, Alexandria, VA, & Woodbridge, VA. We are open 7 days a week & provide medical care to thousands of patients.