Why Vitamin D Is Important for Healthy Bones [And How To Make Sure You’re Getting Enough]

We are serious about bone health care at StrengthX, Asheville’s distinguished bone health, and overall wellness center. Today we will deep-dive into why Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for maintaining healthy bones. To understand why Vitamin D is important, it helps to know a little about how it functions in the body. 

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risks of cancers, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions (please read more on this at Healthy and Natural World). And since most of the body’s tissues and cells have receptors for Vitamin D, we can infer that this versatile hormone/nutrient serves many other critical functions we are not even aware of yet. 

But we know why Vitamin D is important for healthy bones, and since that’s our focus here at StrengthX, let’s dive in.

Vitamin D and Healthy Bones

There are several ways that Vitamin D facilitates healthy bone formation and function in the body.

As you may already know, calcium and phosphorous are two nutrients required to produce and maintain healthy bones. As it turns out, Vitamin D is necessary for the proper absorption and function of these two nutrients and therefore affects the process of building healthy bones and teeth in children and in maintaining healthy bones and teeth in adults. It is also needed for repairing and strengthening broken, damaged, or weak bones. 

Another important function of Vitamin D in bone health is its work with the parathyroid glands. The parathyroid glands communicate with the kidneys, gut, and skeleton to maintain the proper balance of calcium. When there is insufficient Vitamin D in the body, it causes the parathyroid to take excess calcium from the bones to maintain optimal calcium levels in the bloodstream. 

Calcium plays a significant role in proper muscle function and strengthening bones. The muscles and bones are correlated because when there are weak muscles, they are likely to cramp or cause falls, which can result in fractured bones. 

Because of its essential role in bone formation and repair, Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, a condition characterized by weak, soft bones. Children who suffer from rickets can develop bone deformities such as bowed legs. Adults with low levels of Vitamin D are at higher risk of developing osteomalacia (soft bones) and osteoporosis, which results in thin, brittle bones that are lacking in density and are easily broken.

Vitamin D From the Sun

There are two major types of Vitamin D that the body can use:

  1. D2 (ergocalciferol), which comes from plants and fungi

  1. D3 (cholecalciferol), which comes from animals (including humans)

Both of these forms are produced in the presence of sunlight. For this reason, Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin

Regular exposure to sunlight is an ideal way to maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D because UV-B radiation from the sun converts cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol) present on the skin’s surface to vitamin D3.


Generally, 20-30 minutes of sunlight on the face and forearms in the middle of the day 2-3 times a week is adequate for maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D, but there are some other pertinent factors to keep in mind:

  • Season

Obviously, the sun is more intense (and contains stronger UV-B rays) in the Summer months. So more time in the sunlight is required for optimal Vitamin D production in the Winter.

  • Time of Day

The sun’s rays are most intense between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

  • Cloudiness or Air Pollution Level

These can affect the amount of sunlight that reaches the earth (and, thus, our skin).

  • Location

The closer you live to the equator, the more UV light is present in the sun’s rays.

  • Skin Pigment

Melanin, the pigment that causes the skin to tan acts as a shade for sunlight. This means darker-skinned people require more sun exposure to produce Vitamin D.

  • Age

People over the age of 65 need more Vitamin D than younger people.

Other Ways to Maintain Vitamin D Levels

If you don’t think you are getting enough Vitamin D through sunlight exposure, you may want to consider eating foods that contain it. However, not many foods are rich in Vitamin D, so try to get at least some sun exposure if you can.

The best sources of D3 are fatty fish, like salmon, swordfish, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and cod liver oil. Smaller amounts can are found in egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver.

If you feel you need to supplement with Vitamin D, we recommend a natural, WHOLE FOOD supplement.

Summary

Vitamin D is an essential hormone/nutrient for many cellular functions, and a deficiency of Vitamin D can cause many unfavorable conditions. Our focus on Vitamin D at StrengthX is related to its role in maintaining healthy bones. It is a key component in Calcium and Phosphorous balance, as well as muscle health, and because of this, it is a vital component of bone health.

The best way to maintain optimal levels of Vitamin D is through sunlight exposure because few foods contain high levels of Vitamin D. Some of the foods that do include Vitamin D are oily fish, egg yolks, and cheese.

If you feel you are not getting enough Vitamin D through sunlight exposure or diet, we recommend supplementing with a natural whole-food version.

Resources

  1. Healthy and Natural World: https://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/common-diseases-caused-by-vitamin-d-defficiency/ 
  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d–vitamin-d-deficiency
  3. https://patient.info/bones-joints-muscles/osteoporosis-leaflet/vitamin-d-deficiency
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21824858/
  5. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/