Vitamin D is a fat-soluble compound important for many cellular processes in humans. One of these processes is the regulation of calcium levels. Proper absorption and utilization of calcium is a primary factor in healthy bone growth and density. Vitamin D also plays a role in muscle development, immune system function, and hormone development.
Research has found that there are two different forms of Vitamin D essential for healthy cell development. The first is formed in skin cells when the body is exposed to ultra-violet rays in sunlight for a short duration. The second can be obtained by consuming foods that contain rich sources of Vitamin D. These foods include: fatty fish, liver, mushrooms, and eggs. Both forms can also be found in supplements and fortified foods containing Vitamin D.
Deficiencies of Vitamin D can result from lack of exposure to sun, inability to convert Vitamin D into its active form due to a malfunction in the kidneys or by not absorbing enough from food. This deficiency can lead to weakening of the bones (rickets) and scientific evidence suggests that low Vitamin D is associated with several forms of cancer including: breast, colon and prostate.
On the other end of the spectrum, too much Vitamin D can be toxic to the body. Calcification of organs, kidney stones, and bone loss are just a few of the symptoms of Vitamin D toxicity. To diagnose a deficiency or to determine the proper dose for your body and avoid toxicity, consider getting a blood test that measures your Vitamin D levels.