What if I were to tell you there was a vitamin that was critical for the function and health of your immune system, bones, muscles, lungs, kidneys, heart, and brain? Would you think this was important? Now what if I told you that 42% of Americans are deficient in this key vitamin?
Enter, cholecalciferol. You may know cholecalciferol by it's street name: vitamin D (more accurately vitamin D3). A study in 2011 showed that 41.6% of American adults are vitamin D deficient. But what is vitamin D and why should we care?
Vitamin D is one of the only vitamins that your body can produce (it can also produce B3 in small amounts). Vitamin D is created when your skin is exposed to sunlight. It is then sent to the liver and kidneys to be turned into it's active form: 1 alpha, 25 dihydroxyvitamin D. In it's active form, vitamin D is actually a hormone. It is necessary for a number of functions in the human body including immune system regulation, muscle function, cardiovascular function, respiratory function, brain development, and protection against some cancers (colorectal and breast).
Entire books could be written just on this one vitamin alone. However, I tend to focus on nervous system health and function and that is what I am going to do.
vitamin d and the nervous system
A healthy nervous system in reliant on healthy nervous cells. Vitamin D is a powerful antioxidant that protects the cell membranes from free radical attack. It is even more potent than the commonly known antioxidant vitamin E. In addition to directly being an antioxidant, it also boosts glutathione production in the liver. Glutathione is one of the most potent antioxidants that we know of. (side note: never give a child or take Tylenol in the immediate time frame of a vaccination. Tylenol will deplete the body of the glutathione and leave you exposed to potentially harmful compounds in the vaccine.) Long term health is all about protecting your cells from damage. Vitamin D supports these protective mechanisms.
In his book, The Better Brain Book, Dr. David Perlmutter MD talks about the role vitamin D plays in mood regulation. Every year in the winter millions suffer from something called Seasonal Affective Disorder AKA SAD. This is because sunlight causes the production of vitamin D which causes the brain to release serotonin (the chemical that helps regulate mood). So if you are moody, don't bring everyone around you down! Pop a high quality vitamin D supplement and turn that frown upside-down.
I am going to talk about vitamin D a lot more in the future, but let's wrap in up for now. In short, vitamin D is crucial for overall health and well-being. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells from free radical damage. Vitamin D can also help regulate mood and protect against certain types of cancer. Do yourself a favor, start taking a vitamin D supplement. One last thing to note: vitamin D can be toxic in high amounts. Depending on who you ask, they will recommend different amounts. Many studies conclude that 400-800 IU daily is both safe and effective.