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  • Dr. David Della Morte Canosci

VITAMIN D'S ROLE AND HOW TO TAKE IT

Aggiornamento: 29 nov 2021

Vitamin D is closely related to the hours of sunshine. For this reason, our body produces it sufficiently for the winter months during summer. However, a reduced exposure to sunlight and a greater exposure to cold temperatures suggest supplementing Vitamin D for prevention.

Furthermore, Vitamin D is an important component of the nutrients we consume and its deficiency could cause rickets in children or, with aging, osteoporosis. Vitamin D also plays a fundamental role in the course of infectious diseases. In fact, it is a natural antimicrobial and produces between 200 and 300 antimicrobial peptides against viruses, bacteria and fungi. Its deficiency can compromise the regulation of the Immune System and increase our exposure to colds, flu or other respiratory infections.


HOW TO TAKE VITAMIN D


Vitamin D occurs naturally in a few foods: cod liver oil (perhaps not very tasty), liver, fish and eggs. Fortunately, our organism is able to produce and store Vitamin D in the liver, thanks to the sunlight absorbed by the skin (in particular UVB rays), and to release it in small quantities as necessary.


The endogenous production of this vitamin (80% of our intake) starts from cholesterol, which turns to dehydrocholesterol and then to Vitamin D, through a chemical reduction reaction dependent on the exposure to sunlight. However, among the various methods to improve the Vitamin D absorption, we usually refer to diets. This happens because it has been noticed that people from different parts of the World have different intakes. For example, it has been observed that those who have dark skin and live in temperate climates have a low level of Vitamin D, probably due to the abundant melanin in their skin that would hinder its synthesis.


Being the only nutrient naturally present in our organism, we do not need to replenish Vitamin D, unless problems related to pregnancy, breastfeeding and growth occur.

Therefore, we just need to spend adequate time in the sunlight and in the open air in order to absorb this fundamental nutrient, remembering not to exceed to avoid the risk of melanoma.



WHAT IS VITAMIN D USED FOR?


The daily Vitamin D requirement for an adult amounts to 400 units, although it can vary up to 1,000 with aging or in the case of related problems.

This nutrient was first discovered and isolated during a research that aimed to find the cause of rickets in children. It was common knowledge that the problem would involve the lack of a dietary substance and, thanks to studies, researchers found it out and call it Vitamin D.


Vitamin D is not frequently present in nature and, therefore, it is necessary to resort to supplements in case of deficiency or high need. These supplements are used for the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis, rickets and osteomalacia (the senile form of rickets). We understood that Vitamin D plays also an important role in the absorption of calcium and, consequently, in strengthening bones, promoting dental health during development and preventing periodontitis.


In addition to its important role for bone health, Vitamin D also reduces vasoconstriction, oxidative stress (reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes) and improves the repair of internal damage to the blood vessels, giving a great benefit to our Cardiovascular System.


Severe Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with serious diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis. On the Cardiovascular System, the lack of the nutrient can increase the risk of diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and metabolic syndrome. The deficiency may be due to poor exposure to sunlight or even diseases that impair intestinal absorption – such as Crohn's disease, kidney and liver diseases – and cholesterol-lowering drugs, antiepileptics and antifungals.


Obviously, like for all nutrients, it is important not to exceed with intakes. In case of excess, Vitamin D can lead to widespread calcification in different organs resulting in vomiting, diarrhea and muscle spasms.


As we know, the time of natural light is reduced in winter, together with the possibilities we have to recharge our reserves of Vitamin D. In this case, the use of supplements is recommended in order to balance the intake, according to requirements. Furthermore, for people with very fair skin, even the exposure to sunlight for 10-15 minutes can be harmful during summer and supplementation of the vitamin is recommended also in this situation.


 

At Palazzo Fiuggi, a multidisciplinary team of doctors studies balanced diets tailored to the person, with the possibility of continuing them even after the stay. These programs consider all factors, including the intake of Vitamin D, and they will be able to compensate for any deficiencies, limiting excesses and rebalancing your metabolism, in order to keep you healthy.