What is the vitamin that the Sun provides and why is it key in the absorption of calcium?

  • It is a nutrient that has gained relevance in recent years, due to its role in maintaining bone metabolism and its role in strengthening immunity.

Increasingly, specialists talk about the importance of controlling and maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D, a key nutrient for the body that is already considered a hormone for its role in the regulation of many metabolic processes.

Beyond its already known role in maintaining bone metabolism, the relevance of this nutrient in immunity has recently become known, as an enzymatic cofactor of various immunological reactions.

What are the benefits of vitamin D
Dermatologist and functional medicine specialist Lucas Ponti maintained that “this vitamin/hormone intervenes by regulating many processes and offers several benefits beyond its known properties to prevent osteoporosis.”

And among its properties he listed:

  • Helps modulate the immune system (improves part of our defenses).
  • Improves the differentiation of some skin cells, muscle and neurons.
  • It intervenes in the regulation of a gene that encodes a system called renin/angiotensin/aldosterone, which is why it can prevent and improve high blood pressure.
  • Reduces the incidence of type 1 diabetes.
  • Improves muscle recovery and strength after exercise.
  • Due to its immunomodulatory effect, its deficiency is linked to the worsening and prevention of some autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, intestinal diseases, atopic dermatitis, hidradenitis suppurativa and alopecia areata.

How do I know if I lack vitamin D?
Hypovitaminosis D (when there are low levels of vitamin D in the blood) ends up being one of the main causes of fractures in older adults. In this age group, deficiency (levels less than 20 ng/ml) or insufficiency of vitamin D (levels of 20 to 30 ng/ml) is associated with sudden, sudden falls, and not always caused by mechanical factors such as the act of tripping over an object. Rather, they manifest as a feeling of muscle weakness that leads to falling, and with it one of the most frequent trauma emergencies, such as hip fracture.

Therefore, it is important to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D in the blood (greater than 30 ng/ml) to avoid these falls and at the same time prevent bone deterioration that will cause a fracture in the event of the slightest trauma.

The way to know your vitamin D levels is by measuring your blood values, so Ponti recommended “having an analysis that measures that minimum value once a year.”

How you can consume vitamin D
Before knowing where to get vitamin D, it is worth knowing that it is synthesized in the skin tissue from cholesterol molecules, with the help of ultraviolet radiation.

This means that sun exposure is necessary to manufacture it. Then, once this synthesis has started, it continues in the liver and finally in the kidney, generating, finally, the metabolite that is most interesting: vitamin D3, which, unlike vitamin D2, of plant origin, has the greatest activity. biological.

What foods contain vitamin D
Having made it clear that sun exposure is key to the synthesis of vitamin D, in a lower proportion, it is worth saying that it can be incorporated through certain foods such as fatty fish, eggs, avocados, mushrooms or fortified food products. with vitamin D such as yogurt or milk.

In summary, the main cause of hypovitaminosis D is usually low sun exposure, a circumstance that has been enhanced during the years of the pandemic. It is very common to see, especially during recent times, patients with very low vitamin D3 values, mainly people who have low outdoor activity or low sun exposure.

“It is clear that there are two ways to obtain this key nutrient – Ponti summarized -: the intake of certain foods and exposure to sunlight.”

However, the specialist highlighted that “for this cycle to be fulfilled efficiently, many more variables are added, such as age, skin color, habits such as smoking and alcohol, pathologies such as celiac disease and irritable colon, kidney and liver diseases, taking certain medications and the person’s weight are other factors that influence the optimal absorption of vitamin D.”

Precautions when sunbathing
For all the reasons listed above, for the dermatologist “there is no need to standardize the time in which one should be in the sun. “That time is individual according to the clinical history.”

“We are solar beings and we need the sun, but when talking about frequency and time we must take into account some factors,” Ponti highlighted, and elaborated: “There is a rule that can be followed and that is to expose yourself for half of the day.” time in which the skin turns red; This is enough for the synthesis of vitamin D. If the skin turns red it becomes saturated and absorption does not continue; “It’s just a few minutes, being tanned is not synonymous with good levels of vitamin D.”

Specialists recommend exposing yourself for five minutes in summer, and half an hour in winter. On average, about 15 minutes a day are recommended, outside of peak solar radiation times.