Vitamin-D biosynthesis requires the conversion of 7-DehyrdoCholecalciferol to Cholecalciferol in the presence of UV radiation from the sun. The increasing need to look fair and avoid tan at all costs has retarded this process so much so that it leads to deficiency and manifests as Osteoporosis and many other disorders in the long-term. The use of sunscreens has further reduced Vitamin-D production and the intake of supplements becomes inevitable.
Why is Vitamin-D essential
Calcium is amongst the most important electrolyte present in our blood. Apart from pairing with phosphate to strengthen the framework of our bones and teeth. Calcium is also essential for the most basic muscle contraction and relaxation processes. A decrease in calcium levels can result in Irritability and impaired cognition due to inefficient neural communication – A situation seen in most postmenopausal women. Calcium along with Sodium and Potassium ions are also responsible for maintaining a regular heartbeat.
Vitamin-D promotes Calcium absorption from the small-intestine by bringing about a few specific changes in the cell-membrane of its lining cell-layer. Vitamin-D stimulates the cell’s intrinsic machinery to produce a special transporter protein – a gateway named CALBINDIN that binds to all the calcium that is available from our diet.
It is a common dictum in the medical sphere that Vitamin-D finds its most use only when sufficient calcium is available in the diet (with or without the use of supplements).
For strengthening of bones, Calcium is most essential but also requires the presence of Phosphate for its full function. When calcium and phosphate summatively strengthen the bones framework only then can the problem of Osteoporosis ( formation of Holes in the bone ) and Osteomalacia ( softening of bone-tissue) be avoided. Thus the trio of Calcium, Vitamin D and Phosphorus are essential raw materials.
The need for Supplements
While Calcium is readily available in Milk and Meat, Phosphorus is readily available in Green-Leafy Vegetables – Vitamin D needs to be synthesized in our body. With decreasing exposure to sunlight in tropical countries and reduced availability of Sunlight is some parts of the world Supplementing our body with Vitamin-D capsules is the most rational choice. After the 4th decade of life the need for calcium supplements also becomes necessary to compensate for our naturally weakening bones.
Further, Vitamin D’s role in the prevention of Dementia and Depression is being examined. A periodic exposure to sunlight helps us maintain stable moods (In fact, sun-exposure forms a therapeutic-module in Bipolar Disorder and the role of Vitamin-D to maintain stable moods is under investigation).