Beyond Bones: Vitamin D as a master nutrient & prohormone
'Stand under the sun for a long period to get enough vitamin D' - is one of the most common things that we all have heard. However, has anyone questioned why vitamin D is important for humans? To define it medically, vitamin D is a fat-soluble steroid that is responsible for the absorption of calcium, phosphate, magnesium and other elements from the intestine. The calcium absorbed from the body is later used for the development of bones, hence, vitamin D is essential for the proper growth and strength of bones. Severe deficiency of this vitamin will result in weakening, bending and even breaking of bones.
Though this is one of the major roles of vitamin D, this vitamin is known for many other things as well. Starting from maintaining good health, preventing cancer, reducing cardiovascular diseases, and a lot more, Vitamin D is essential for important body functions.
Recent studies conducted on it have linked vitamin D deficiency with many ailments like cancer, weight gain, depression, cardiovascular, and other diseases. Hence, it is suggested to have vitamin D supplements to maintain the required levels. Furthermore, few studies have concluded that vitamin D treatment plausibly is connected and can help treat or prevent ailments like autoimmune, autism, chronic pain, diabetes, flu, maintain blood pressure level, cancer, and various other diseases. Clinical studies are being held to prove the same.
Getting the required levels of vitamin D has been something we all have been neglecting for a while. However, it is not intentional, we all believe that our body automatically produces it or the sunlight helps in producing it. These all are myths that have been surrounding this vitamin. Though sunlight and our body produce this vitamin, it is not sufficient for a human to live their entire life.
The major reason for this negligence is the lack of knowledge about this vitamin. For instance, this hyped-up vitamin D which almost sounds like a super nutrient having all the cures for almost every human ailment is not a ‘vitamin’. Often misunderstood as one, Vitamin D is a prohormone. Prohormones are substances that the human body converts into hormones. Let us break down the synthesis of vitamin D in a human body.
In a nutshell, Vitamin D is simply a hormone that kidneys produce. It controls blood calcium concentration and thus impacts the whole immune system. Similar things happen when a human body comes in contact with UV rays, the body produces vitamin D. However, the vitamin D that has been produced in the body is the result of a chemical reaction. The output of this reaction is a substance known as cholecalciferol. The liver then converts it into calcidiol and the kidney converts it to calcitriol; which is the hormonally active form of vitamin D. Vitamin D Therapy further effectively binds with the vitamin D receptor, a protein that is present in every cell. It is this protein that helps in maintaining a healthy and immune body.