Vitamin D is a unique fat-soluble vitamin because it is the only nutrient that the skin from ultraviolet rays can synthesize. In the food supply, there is a paucity of foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Instead, most dietary vitamin D is consumed through fortified foods, although still in relatively small amounts. Therefore, vitamin D supplements are a prudent option to fill nutrient gaps for this crucial micronutrient. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, is plant-derived. At the same time, vitamin D3, cholecalciferol, is animal-derived and is the body’s preferred form based on research demonstrating its superior ability to raise and maintain vitamin D levels in the blood.
As the scientific body of literature matures, the diversity of vitamin D’s influence in the body is being elucidated. Receptors for vitamin D have been discovered in cells throughout the body. Currently, the strongest science supports vitamin D’s role in bone, teeth, muscle, and immune health. Vitamin D supports strong bones and teeth by enhancing calcium absorption from food and supplements and playing an important role in calcium and phosphorus homeostasis and bone remodeling processes.
In fact, vitamin D deficiency results in bone softening and deformation referred to as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. In combination with calcium, vitamin D supports bone mineralization processes, and inadequate intake of these nutrients increases one’s risk for osteoporosis, falls, and fractures. Additionally, normal muscle and immune system function require vitamins.
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