Vitamin D is an important vitamin used by our bodies to assist in the absorption and use of the bone-building mineral calcium. Persons that are deficient in vitamin D are at greater risk of having bones that are soft, weak, or misshapen. Emerging evidence is also suggesting that vitamin D may play an important role in other bodily processes, including modulating cell growth, boosting the immune system, and reducing inflammation.
Our bodies obtain Vitamin D in three ways. The most common is for our bodies to make it from a substance that our skin produces after it is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) B rays. However, several factors can interfere with this process. One is the use of sunscreen, which blocks UVB rays from reaching our skin. Another is the onset of winter, a time when the sun’s rays are weaker, there are fewer daylight hours, and more of our skin is covered by bulky clothing.
In the absence of sunlight, our bodies must obtain vitamin D from either dietary supplements or certain foods. In the case of supplements, my preference is take them only under a doctor’s supervision, since taking too many risks vitamin toxicity and other negative side effects. Supplements can also interact with other medications.