One of the highly studied important benefits of Vitamin D is its influence in Calcium absorption, essential in strengthening and building bones. According to Harvard Health Publishing, Calcium and Vitamin D are partners in keeping the bones healthy. Without Vitamin D, the body cannot absorb Calcium effectively, and may lead to poor bone development. Researchers suggest that optimizing Vitamin D intake may also help in osteoporosis prevention.
How It Works
Researchers have discovered long ago one of Vitamin D’s important functions in the body. The most clinically established role is improving Calcium absorption, making it an essential for stronger bones.
If sufficient Vitamin D is present in the body, 30%- 40% Calcium is absorbed. On the other hand, if the Vitamin D levels are insufficient, the body will take the Calcium stores in the skeleton, thus weakening existing bones and preventing the formation of new, strong bones. This activity causes osteopenia and osteoporosis, and increasing risk of fracture. It is thus critical to optimize Vitamin D levels for bone health.
Aside from helping strengthen bones, researchers have also been studying about its other uses to the body. Vitamin D receptors (proteins that bind to Vitamin D) are present in different tissues and organs including the intestines, heart, blood vessels, muscles, and endocrine glands. This means Vitamin D has a huge influence on body, beyond our bones!
Vitamin D and Bone Diseases
Vitamin D deficiency escalates the development and growth of bone fractures by up to 31%, German researchers show in a study published in Science Translational Medicine.
Without Vitamin D, Calcium would not be absorbed effectively, and may lead to weaker bones. Here are some of the bone diseases associated with low Vitamin D levels.
Rickets is characterized by abnormal bone growth in children. It may be described as the softening of bones, and is generally caused by the lack of Vitamin D in the body. Specific causes may include not receiving enough sunlight, insufficient Vitamin D in diet, feeding with breast milk alone (breast milk contains small amounts of Vitamin D).
Osteoporosis occurs when the bones are “thinning”, and have higher chances to break due to weakness or brittleness. Aside from bone loss due to old age, another cause of osteoporosis is low Calcium intake. As mentioned earlier, Calcium absorption requires Vitamin D.
When the softening of bones occurs in adults, it is called osteomalacia. Like rickets, a main cause of osteomalacia is insufficient Vitamin D in the body.
Strengthen your bones with Vitamin D
Getting enough Vitamin D is a great way to protect your bones and your body from bone diseases. There are ways to get Vitamin D, mainly through sun exposure, but also through food. A top source of Vitamin D is fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna. Smaller amounts of Vitamin D are also present in dairy products such as fortified milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, and egg yolk. Beef liver can also be a source of Vitamin D.
Aside from natural sources, you can also take a Vitamin D supplement to help get a sufficient level of Vitamin D in your body and help prevent bone diseases like osteoporosis and rickets.