Vitamin D is the Sunshine Vitamin, the magic ingredient that enables us to use calcium in our food to ensure strong bones and teeth.
It’s the “Sunshine Vitamin”, because sunlight works through the skin to make it happen naturally. Once it has been processed through the liver and kidneys, it is synthesized into a hormone that affects every part of our bodies.
Around 1 billion individuals worldwide Are Vitamin D Deficient or Insufficient
Nearly 15% of the world’s population, are vitamin D deficient or insufficient (less than 20 ng/ml or between 20-30 ng/ml, respectively).
Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency in general population worldwide
In countries where sunshine is scarce, Nature’s way is often not enough.
In Northern Europe, the deficiency disease called Rickets was a common scourge, disabling children in thousands, until post-war governments, with Britain’s Welfare State in the forefront, made Vitamin D additive in flour and margarine compulsory.
So Rickets became almost a bad memory. It is painful, limits growth, and can cause actual deformity. Says Britain’s NHS: When vitamin D levels are very low, symptoms may include tiredness, weakness, muscle and bone pain. (In adults a similar condition is called Osteomalacia.)
Now the picture is changing again. While there are still strong links with poverty and malnutrition, family doctors are seeing the children of quite affluent parents with Rickets – well cared for, and heavily protected from the sun – and horrified Mothers who shop in organic Health Food stores for pulses and fruit-based snacks are receiving this unexpected diagnosis.
In 2010 the “safety first” school of child First World child rearing was shocked rigid by the publication of a study insisting that kids should once again be let out to play.
“The many hours children spend indoors playing computer games or watching television may be to blame for a resurgence of rickets,” The Times reported. Several newspapers also covered this research on vitamin D deficiency in the UK.
For 50 years medics have also been drawing attention to the care needed in preventing Rickets in children from ethnic minorities.
People most at risk at of vitamin D deficiency, include those living far from the equator, those with medical conditions the elderly, and those with darker skin. They enjoy higher levels of Melanin, which hinders absorption of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
Too often their warnings have fallen on deaf ears. People whose regular diet did not include sliced white bread, vitamin fortified flour or margarine were not protected by the invisible supplement – except in baby formula. In today’s Europe new measures are urgently needed to give Vitamin D to ALL children.
But – bone disease is not the only evil that arises from Vitamin D Deficiency.
Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function.
Vitamin D activates genes that regulate the immune system and release neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, serotonin) that affect brain function and development. Researchers have found vitamin D receptors on a handful of cells located in regions in the brain-the same regions that are linked with depression