What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a collection of fat soluble steroids which have a primary role in boosting intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate. It is essential to human health and is actually a hormone produced in the body. Cholecalciferol (D3) and ergocalciferol (D2) are two of the compounds which are available by de novo synthesis via exposure to the sun, in the diet or by supplementation.
Why should I test for Vitamin D levels?
Research reflects the need for optimal levels to control or improve outcomes in many chronic conditions. Conditions include: bone health, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease (including stroke prevention), immune system strengthening, multiple sclerosis, asthma, diverticulitis and benign prostatic hypertrophy as well as other extraskeletal benefits including mortality, mood and cognition in geriatrics.
Who Should Be Tested?
With more than 75% of adolescents and adults insufficient in Vitamin D, testing is for everyone; especially for people who don't eat sufficient organic green vegetables or fortified foods and who have limited sun exposure. Most physicians use the test to check for insufficiency or outright deficiency of the vitamin, reflecting their patients’ level of need for supplementation.
Supplemental vitamin D significantly reduces all cause mortality. This emphasizes the need for promptly diagnosing and adequately treating this common vitamin deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in many of the chronic diseases of the modern world.
Vitamin D has as many mechanisms of action as the over 200 genes it targets. Vitamin D receptors are found in the widespread variety of tissues.
One of the most important genes upregulated by vitamin D is the gene for cathelicidin. Cathelicidin is a broad spectrum naturally occurring antibiotic.
In general, vitamin D deficient patients with serious illness should receive treatment with vitamin D at levels somewhat higher than normal.