25
Sep

The Important Role of Vitamin D

The human body is a complex ecosystem consisting of many moving, interdependent parts. Like every organ, muscle, and cell, vitamin D has a valuable part to play in the overall health and wellbeing of an individual. Though microscopic, the important role of vitamin D is not one that anyone should overlook.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone comprised of a group of fat-soluble secosteroids. It is responsible for the intestinal absorption of calcium and other important nutrients. There are three main ways in which humans can increase the amount of vitamin D in their body. Most commonly, vitamin D is a result of exposure to sunlight. The UV rays from the sun interact with the cholesterol in your skin cells. This provides your body with the energy necessary to naturally produce vitamin D. For someone with fair skin, even as little as 15 minutes of sun exposure can be enough to produce your daily amount of vitamin D.

Vitamin D also resides in several foods, though they do not contain a significant enough amount to meet daily vitamin D needs. Fatty fish, such as swordfish, salmon, and tuna, all contain vitamin D, as do mushrooms, egg yolks, milk, and cheese. However, to meet your vitamin D needs, you would need to eat these foods nearly every day. For this reason, many people turn to vitamin D supplements to ensure their vitamin D levels remain at a healthy number. The amount of vitamin D needed does vary depending on age. As such, be sure to confer with a medical professional before incorporating vitamin D supplements into your diet. In general, most people require between 400-600 IU of vitamin D. Elderly individuals or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, however, may require a higher amount of daily vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiencies

The role of vitamin D is quite important to your body’s overall health. As such, a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to serious health concerns. Several factors may cause a person to become vitamin D deficient. Most commonly, vitamin D deficiency comes as a result of insufficient vitamin D in an individual’s diet. It may also result from a lack of exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is most common in elderly individuals, though it can occur in children and adults as well. Because vitamin D is crucial to the production and absorption of calcium, a vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone softening and an overall decline in bone health. Though quite rare, a vitamin D deficiency in children may lead to rickets—a disease characterized by soft or deformed bones which bow under the child’s body weight and may impede their growth. In adults and elderly individuals, osteomalacia is the most common disease resulting from a vitamin D deficiency. Osteomalacia causes the bones to become soft, increasing muscle weakness and overall bone fragility.

Automated workstations and treating vitamin D deficiencies

While a vitamin D deficiency may not present immediate dangers to an individual’s health, it can lead to significant health issues over time. In fact, it may be indicative of a more serious health concern. As such, early detection and treatment of a vitamin D deficiency are crucial. Luckily, as technology becomes more intelligent and specialized, the assessment of vitamin D sufficiency becomes simpler. Through the use of automated liquid handling workstations, scientists are now able to assess an individual’s vitamin D sufficiency with increased efficiency and reliability. By extracting and measuring the amount of serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D, scientists can study the amount of vitamin D’s two forms found naturally in the human body. This allows scientists to diagnose and treat patients with more speed and accuracy than was previously possible. With the use of automated Vitamin D extraction workstation, scientists and doctors can extract up to 96 blood samples in 60 minutes while improving quality, accuracy, and precision.