Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body. It assists in:
- Promoting healthy bones and teeth
- Supporting immune, brain, and nervous system health
- Regulating insulin levels and supporting diabetes management
- Supporting lung function and cardiovascular health
- Influencing the expression of genes involved in cancer development
Read on to find out about these roles in more detail:
1. Healthy bones
Vitamin D plays a significant role Trusted Source in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood. These factors are vital for maintaining healthy bones.
People need vitamin D to allow the intestines to stimulate and absorb calcium and reclaim calcium that the kidneys would otherwise excrete.
Vitamin D deficiency in children can cause rickets, which leads to a severely bowlegged appearance due to the softening of the bones.
Similarly, in adults, vitamin D deficiency manifests as osteomalacia, or softening of the bones. Osteomalacia results in poor bone density and muscular weakness.
A vitamin D deficiency can also present as osteoporosis, for which over 53 million people in the United States either seek treatment or face an increased risk.
2. Reduced risk of flu
A 2018 review Trusted Source of existing research suggested that some studies had found that vitamin D had a protective effect against the influenza virus.
However, the authors also looked at other studies where vitamin D did not have this effect on flu and flu risk.
Further research is, therefore, necessary to confirm the protective effect of vitamin D on the flu.
3. Healthy infants
Vitamin D deficiency has links to high blood pressure in children. One 2018 study found a possible connection between low vitamin D levels and stiffness in the arterial walls of children.
An example of this is children who live closer to the equator and have lower rates of admission to hospital for allergies plus fewer prescriptions of epinephrine autoinjectors. They are also less likely to have a peanut allergy.
Furthermore, vitamin D may enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids. This benefit makes it potentially useful as a supportive therapyTrusted Source for people with steroid resistant asthma.
4. Healthy pregnancy
A 2019 review Trusted Source suggests that pregnant women who are deficient in vitamin D may have a greater risk of developing preeclampsia and giving birth preterm.
Doctors also associate poor vitamin D status with gestational diabetes and bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women.
It is also important to note that in a 2013 study Trusted Source, researchers associated high vitamin D levels during pregnancy with an increased risk of food allergy in the child during the first 2 years of life.