Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which can provide for the body's needs in one of two ways...through the action of sunlight on the skin, or through the major food sources of cod liver oil, cold-water fish, butter, and egg yolks. When the sun shines on the skin, the ultraviolet rays activate a form of cholesterol which is present in the skin, converting it to Vitamin D (1). Because the body can provide sufficient Vitamin D to meet its needs simply through exposure to sunlight, some feel it is not really a vitamin, but instead is a hormone.
However, most people do not take into account the fact that the amount of Vitamin D converted through sunlight exposure varies according to the time of year, latitude and longitude that you live at, and the color of your skin. So everyone does not get the same amount.
In general, non-white skin requires more sun. The further north you live, the fewer UV-B rays you get. Those are the only kind of ultraviolet light that stimulates Vitamin D production. Those in the northern parts of the United States, Northern Europe, etc. probably cannot get the amount of Vitamin D they need through sunlight alone, and will always need a supplement. Those in the southern United States can probably get enough UV-B in the months May through September. For the rest of the year they will need a supplement. Those that live close to equator are the most likely to get the amount of UV-B that they need. But this is also assuming that they are outside at least two hours per day in the sun. Full spectrum sun. Take your glasses off and let it get into your eyes, it will regulate your glands. You will feel so much better.
Vitamin D is needed to stimulate the absorption of calcium. A Vitamin D deficiency will cause rickets in children, and osteomalacia in adults. Vitamin D actually stimulates a series of conversions which begin in the skin, continue through the liver and kidney, and end with calcium absorption into the bone. However, these conversions will not result in absorption without the trace mineral boron present (2).
It is now known that Vitamin D plays a huge part in boosting the immune system. One of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, cancer, or any chronic disease is with Vitamin D. In order to correct the deficiency condition which most people have but don't know they have, 5,000 IU's a day are necessary. After taking this much for about a month, you will have filled your need for Vitamin D for normal daily processes, and then some of the deeper needs can be filled. Make sure the supplement you are taking is Vitamin D3, however.
The best way to get your Vitamin D needs filled without fear of taking too much, is by daily sun exposure.
Never take Vitamin D3 without supplementing with Vitamin K2 at the same time, or the Vitamin D can cause hardening of the arteries.
See Dr. Mercola's important articles on Vitamin D and Sun Exposure
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Copyright 2015 Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living
(1) Dunne, Lavon J. (1990). Nutrition Almanac, 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, p. 49.
(2) Murray, Michael T. (1996). The Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, p. 40.