Vitamin D, also known as ‘The Sunshine Vitamin’, helps your body in so many ways!!
Did you know that there are vitamin D receptors expressed on every cell in your body? The importance of this vitamin cannot be underestimated. As therapists we need to keep in mind that ageing well is absolutely dependent upon healthy & regular sun exposure - constantly covering up and daily SPF application could actually negatively impact skin and overall health.
By its function, Vitamin D more resembles a hormone than a vitamin. Hormones are chemical messengers that interact with cell receptors to produce specific biological responses. Calcitriol, the active form of Vitamin D, is arguably the most powerful hormone in the body. It has the ability to activate over 900 genes (roughly 10% of the human genome).
Vitamin D begins its journey as a form of cholesterol that is present in the skin. When UVB rays from the early morning or mid-afternoon sun shine on our skin, this cholesterol is turned into a storage form of Vitamin D, which is then sent to the liver and then to the kidneys to be eventually converted to vitamin D3 - this is the active form the body can use! Season, time of day, cloud cover, smog, natural skin melanin content, clothing and sunscreen use are among the blocking factors that affect Vitamin D synthesis from UVB rays.
Every cell and tissue in the body uses Vitamin D for one process or another. Most people are aware of its role in bone health - just one of the many tasks Vitamin D performs is ensuring that calcium is absorbed appropriately from our digestive track and kidneys & deposited in the bones, as well as regulating the bone remodelling controlled by osteoblast and osteoclast activity. It also stimulates absorption of phosphate and magnesium ions.
Vitamin D is directly involved in cell activity & division, as well as optimal immune function, making it an incredibly important nutrient for healthy skin. If the body is deficient in Vitamin D, the epidermal cells will not differentiate optimally. This causes the outer layer of the skin to become fragile & thin - dryness & wrinkles will set in as moisture is lost, and the skin begins to sag. NOOOOOOOOO!
Vitamin D functions in a plethora of cellular processes; it is also involved with hormone communication, prevention of fatty degeneration, protection against insulin resistance, improved dental health, better wound healing, gene modulation, enhanced mood & behaviour, heart and respiratory health, arthritis and metabolism (making it important aspect to consider for weight management!).
Low Vitamin D has been linked to an increased risk of:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Various types of cancers (particularly colon cancer)
- Heart disease
- Mental health conditions (including depression)
- Worse outcomes in stroke
- Altered immunity and other autoimmune diseases
Dietary sources of vitamin D include:
- Beef liver
- Fatty fish (such as salmon, herring and mackerel) and fish liver oils
- Vitamin D mushrooms (mushrooms that have been exposed to UV rays during the growing process)
- Vitamin D fortified products (such as milk, yoghurts, cheese, margarine and soy products)
With supplementation please ensure you are having Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in preference to Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), and also ensuring that you take your supplements with other dietary fats for optimal absorption. A sluggish lymphatic system, impaired bile acid release or pancreatic insufficiency will all significantly reduce the absorption of vitamin D.
Healthy sun exposure (between 10am and 3pm) for Vitamin D production:
- Light skin > 15-20 minutes 2-3 x a week
- Medium Skin > 25-30 minutes 2-3 x a week
- Dark Skin > 40-45 minutes 2-3 x a week
The sun's ability to charge our bodies with Vitamin D creates an extremely powerful cellular effect.
LOOK GOOD & FEEL GREAT… and have a sunny afternoon!
This article was written by Pia Kynoch
Owner & Principal Therapist at:
Verve Beauty & Paramedical Skin Wellness.