A bright, sunny day does more than lift your spirits -- exposure to sunlight causes your body to make vitamin D3. This nutrient is an important contributor to good health. It helps your body absorb calcium and promotes healthy bones. Research shows that vitamin D3 could also prevent life-threatening diseases such as high blood pressure, cancer and some autoimmune disorders. Vitamin D3 is a vital part of your body's metabolic processes.
You may associate the word "metabolism" with your body's ability to turn food into energy. You might think the speed of your metabolism determines whether you lose or gain weight. In reality, your metabolism is a complex set of processes that includes all of your body systems. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines metabolism as "the sum of the processes in the buildup and destruction of protoplasm; specifically: the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for vital processes and activities and new material is assimilated." In simple words, your body uses vitamins and other substances to keep you alive and healthy.
Processing Vitamin D3
In addition to sun exposure, you can get vitamin D3 from fortified milk, some foods and vitamin supplements. Your skin and your intestines absorb the vitamin and bind it to proteins that travel throughout your body and to your liver. Your liver turns the vitamin D3 into "calcidiol" -- your body can store it in this form for future use. The amount of stored calcidiol you have at any one time is referred to as your vitamin D level.
Using Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 must be removed from storage and activated to be useful. Only then can it work in your body to create proteins and enzymes that tell your body how to function. A shortage in vitamin D3 reduces your body's efficiency. Researchers don’t know exactly how that impacts your health, but are investigating the vitamin's role in the prevention of a wide variety of diseases.
Vitamin D3 Effects
Vitamin D3 is known to promote bone health and regulate calcium and phosphorus in the blood. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is strong evidence that vitamin D3 is effective in treating many conditions including rickets, psoriasis and diseases related to vitamin D deficiencies. These include hyperparathyroidism, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Supplemental vitamin D could also help ease muscular pain and weakness, prevent falls in older adults and reduce fractures.
Vitamin D3 and Weight Maintenance
Research is unclear on vitamin D3's role in weight control. However, some scientists are studying its effects on hyperlipidemia -- excess fat and cholesterol in the blood, diabetes and postmenopausal weight gain.
Rae Casto began writing professionally in 1982. She writes on a variety of topics including health, nutrition, art and culture for various websites. Casto holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and art from Guilford College and a Master of Public Administration in health administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.