February 26, 2024 6 min read

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    There is a clear and undeniable correlation between sunny days and human happiness, which can be explained in many ways. All sun worshippers can agree that with the first ray of sun, chores become less dull, work days feel shorter, and the motivation to get up and seize the day becomes stronger than ever. However, did you know that the power we exert from the sunlight isn’t all that subjective?

    The fact that sunlight allows us to produce one of the most important vitamins for our general health seems to be overshadowed by the rising concerns about sun damage. While protecting our skin and enjoying the sun responsibly is critical, we shouldn’t neglect our vitamin-D-producing superpower. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the significance of vitamin D in multiple spheres of our well-being, especially metabolic health.

    Introducing the “Sunshine Vitamin”

    The Sunshine Vitamin

    Vitamin D, also known as calciferol, is a nutrient we can synthesize naturally through sunlight exposure, hence its popular nickname: the sunshine vitamin. A prohormone, vitamin D comes in two primary forms: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. The main difference is that vitamin D2 is mostly added to foods to ensure sufficient consumption. At the same time, D3 is entirely synthesized in our bodies - more precisely, in the skin. Nevertheless, both forms can be obtained through dietary sources, including fortified foods and quality supplementation.[1]

    When it comes to natural vitamin D production that occurs in the skin, it depends on several factors. While sun exposure is the primary condition, the success of vitamin D synthesis depends on age, the amount of skin exposed to sunlight, sunscreen application, skin pigmentation, clothing, and the time of the year. Moreover, age is an undeniable factor in this process, as it has been shown that vitamin D production isn’t as active in aging skin.[1]

    Now that we’re familiar with certain mechanisms and functions of vitamin D in our overall health and well-being, it wouldn’t hurt to review its main roles in important stages of our lives:

    • Vitamin D significantly impacts bone development, and its role starts in the early development stages of infancy. Vitamin D and calcium are the main prerequisites for optimal skeletal development in babies, and a severe deficiency could lead to developmental issues, such as rickets. Experts suggest feeding breastfed children infant formula or supplementation to avoid infant vitamin D deficiency.[1]
    • Bone accretion is one of the most significant and complex processes during childhood and adolescence, especially puberty. Optimal levels of vitamin D are necessary for reaching healthy bone density, especially in these transformational periods of development.[1]
    • Even as adults, numerous risks are associated with low vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is key to recurring bone remodeling and density maintenance. Later in life, we are more prone to osteoporotic fractures due to vitamin D deficiency caused by age, decreased sun exposure, and hormonal changes such as estrogen drop.[1] In addition to bone health, vitamin D is an irreplaceable nutrient in immune functions, mood management, sleep hygiene, and metabolic health.[2]
    • The sunshine vitamin is essential during pregnancy, as it largely contributes to fetal development.[1]

    Vitamin D Deficiency

    Vitamin D deficiency isn’t always easy to detect, and neither are its causes. However, there are certain tell-tale signs[2] to keep in mind:  

    • Bone and muscle aches;
    • Frequent bone fractures;
    • Muscle weakness and tingly sensation in feet and/or hands;
    • Frequent muscle tremors and spasms;
    • Decreased pain tolerance;
    • Bowed legs and waddling, but only as a result of severe deficiency.

    Vitamin D Deficiency

    Vitamin D deficiency is mostly diagnosed in individuals with darker skin pigment or insufficient exposure to direct sunlight, which limits natural production. However, there are other causes of this rather complex condition, including poor diet and lifestyle choices, kidney or liver issues, certain medications, IBD, Celiac disease, as well as a history of childhood rickets.[2]

    What is the optimal amount of vitamin D? Find out morehere.

    However, lacking this valuable vitamin in our diet can affect much more than our muscles and bones. Vitamin D is involved in multiple metabolic processes, and its absence can often be strongly felt. This is precisely why we’re diving deep into the relationship between vitamin D and metabolic health.

    What Is The Link Between Vitamin D & Metabolic Health?

    People most often associated vitamin D with bone metabolism in the past, while its other (and equally as impactful) aspects were unjustly neglected. Today, we know that vitamin D levels can dictate our mood, affect our sleep quality, and make or break our immune shield.

    On top of that, the sunshine vitamin is a key player in metabolic health, and a deficiency can cause more harm than we may be aware of. Let’s take a closer look at the unbreakable bond between metabolic health and vitamin D. 

    The Role of Vitamin D in Metabolism

    Vitamin D deficiency remains the common denominator in a wide range of metabolic disorders, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Since vitamin D is a steroidal co-hormone in numerous bodily tissues, and most cells possess vitamin D receptors, the spectrum of vitamin D mechanisms is extremely wide. Simply put, vitamin D has a vital “say” in multiple vital bodily processes; low levels of this precious vitamin can lead to numerous consequences.[3] 

    While early research on vitamin D highlighted only its importance in bone health, today, we know that vitamin D receptors are found throughout the body and can, therefore, affect numerous other processes. Issues concerning vitamin D production in the skin, absorption, transport, conversion, and deficiency caused by chronic diseases can all impact our overall health.[3]

    Vitamin D & Cardiovascular Disease

    Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Health

    Vitamin D receptors are very much present in the heart and vascular smooth muscles. Studies have shown[3] that patients deficient in vitamin D have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease, as vitamin D plays a significant role in protein synthesis for optimal cardiovascular health. Lacking vitamin D may also lead to high blood pressure, increased inflammation, and insulin resistance.

    Vitamin D & Metabolic Syndrome

    Hypovitaminosis D (vitamin D deficiency) is also closely related to metabolic syndrome (MetS). The metabolic syndrome encompasses a series of vascular and metabolic disorders and is mostly characterized by elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and obesity. MetS is mostly present among the elderly but can also affect younger individuals with low physical activity levels and improper nutrition.[4]

    There is strong evidence[4] suggesting that vitamin D has a strong effect on insulin sensitivity and secretion, which makes it a prevalent factor in the development of metabolic disorders such as MetS.

    Vitamin D & Obesity

    There is also a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and obesity; many perceive this connection as bilateral. On the one hand, low vitamin D status could be considered one of the causes of obesity; on the other hand, it is often a consequence of obesity. The large fat, serum, and muscle volume in obese individuals may represent an obstacle to vitamin D absorption - hence the deficiency.[5] On the other hand, the inflammatory effect of vitamin D deficiency directly leads to tissue inflammation in obesity.

    Vitamin D & Diabetes

    We already mentioned the role of vitamin D in insulin sensitivity and secretion, making it a key player in conditions such as insulin resistance and diabetes. Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties, which aid in managing insulin resistance. Keeping optimal vitamin D levels facilitates proper insulin release - a critical factor in regulating blood sugar.[6]

    Securing the Optimal Dose: Why Is The Vitamin D3 + K2 Combo a Perfect Match?

    Vitamin D3+K2

    In addition to optimizing your diet, prioritizing daily physical activity, and getting enough direct sunlight multiple times a week (experts say that 20-30 minutes of midday sunlight is ideal), you can also obtain vitamin D through quality supplementation.

    While you’ll come across numerous vitamin D supplements, the vitamin D3 + K2 duo is one of the best choices you can make. Why? These two vitamins work synergistically, and only when combined, can they achieve their full potential.

    Vitamin D3 is largely responsible for calcium absorption, while vitamin K2 transports the calcium to areas in need, preventing it from building up in arteries and muscles. Vitamin K2 also offers numerous benefits for cardiovascular and cognitive health, supporting the functions of vitamin D3. 

    Article References:

    1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium; Ross AC, Taylor CL, Yaktine AL, et al., editors. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011. 3, Overview of Vitamin D. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56061/
    2. Vitamin D: Benefits, Deficiency, Sources, and Dosage.” Www.medicalnewstoday.com, 23 Feb. 2022, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618#role-of-vitamin-d.
    3. Al-Oanzi ZH, Alenazy FO, Alhassan HH, Alruwaili Y, Alessa AI, Alfarm NB, Alanazi MO, Alghofaili SI. The Role of Vitamin D in Reducing the Risk of Metabolic Disturbances That Cause Cardiovascular Diseases. Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease. 2023; 10(5):209. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcdd10050209
    4. Melguizo-Rodríguez, L., Costela-Ruiz, V. J., García-Recio, E., De Luna-Bertos, E., Ruiz, C., & Illescas-Montes, R. (2021). Role of Vitamin D in the Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrients, 13(3), 830. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13030830
    5. Vranić, L., Mikolašević, I., & Milić, S. (2019). Vitamin D Deficiency: Consequence or Cause of Obesity?. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 55(9), 541. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina55090541
    6. Lips, P., Eekhoff, M., van Schoor, N., Oosterwerff, M., de Jongh, R., Krul-Poel, Y., & Simsek, S. (2017). Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 173, 280–285. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2016.11.021 

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