What is Vitamin D?
Controversy surrounds the way we get our vitamin D and some of its benefits.
Vitamin D3 is naturally found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Dairy products are supplemented with vitamin D. Our skin makes vitamin D3 in skin cells called keratinocytes with exposure to ultraviolet light. Darker skin types with more protective melanin in their skin do not make as much vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 is chemically changed first in the liver and then in the kidney to its active form calcitriol. Calcitriol is also made in immune cells to defend against germs. Calcium and vitamin D3 are essential for bone health. Nerve functions, immune functions and several genes responsible for the growth of cells depend on vitamin D. Multiple studies have shown vitamin D3 is important for decreasing cancer risk for colon, breast, ovarian, pancreatic cancer and others. It may also be important in cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Diabetes may be affected by low levels of vitamin D. Some studies have contradictory outcomes.
How do I get Vitamin D?
The American Academy of Dermatology and My Dermatologist does not recommend getting extra sun or tanning to get the correct vitamin D levels. The correct daily oral requirement of Vitamin D3 should be determined by your doctor based on your vitamin D blood levels and other health requirements.