Vitamin D3: What's the Deal?

Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” as it is made naturally in the body when skin is exposed to the UV rays from the sun.This vitamin can be found in certain fortified foods like cereal and dairy products as well. Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol is one of the several forms of vitamin D; it is a fat soluble vitamin that is suggested to help the body to absorb calcium, phosphorus, and aids in bone mineralization.

The discovery of vitamin D is debated among the scientific community, but is generally agreed that it has been used since 1650 when Dr. Francis Glisson described what we now know as rickets, which is caused by a vitamin D deficiency. It wasn’t until over 250 years later though, that doctors understood that there may be essential dietary needs to prevent diseases such as rickets or scurvy. The full discovery of vitamin D and what it may do for the human body is credited to German scientist Adolf Windaus, who was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1928 for his exceptional work. Studies have been conducted on essential vitamins like vitamin D up until the early 2000’s, in order to help better understand their role in human health!

Vitamin D3 as of 2021 is on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines; this list, updated every two years, is designed to help countries have the most effective and essential medicines for their health system.The list is divided into core and complementary medicines. Core medicines are the most cost effective and easiest to access for health systems. Complementary medicines are those that may require more infrastructure like expensive equipment or more highly trained specialists that country may not have access to. Vitamin D is listed on the core medicines side of the list as it is an easily accessible vitamin in both name brand and generic forms.

Many people nowadays take vitamin D supplements, whether it be liquid drops, capsules, or present in a multivitamin a person might take on a daily basis. Vitamin D3 can also be found in certain fortified foods such as milk or cereal and in some meat products such as fish. The reasons that someone may need to take a vitamin D3 supplement varies from just general wellness to helping possibly mitigate advanced bone diseases. Rickets, a rare condition characterized by softened and weak bones, is caused by a vitamin D deficiency and therefore is treated by vitamin D supplementation. Studies have shown that vitamin D can help reduce the effects of bone loss and weakness in diseases like osteoporosis or multiple sclerosis taken both internally and topically. 

Overall, vitamin D has the potential to be an asset for many situations in the lives of people either hoping to live a healthier lifestyle or those experiencing a variety of bone related disorders. The overall message research is suggesting is to make sure to get some uninterrupted sun time during the day in order to keep bones strong and healthy!

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