Cholecalciferol, also known as calciol or vitamin D3, is one of the three major forms of vitamin D. It is either synthesized in your skin from the precursor hormone 7-dehydrocholesterol, or acquired through diet or supplements. Cholecalciferol is structurally similar to a steroid and usually circulates in your bloodstream as a hormone. It is then hydroxylated in your kidneys or by the macrophages in your immune system to form calcitriol, the biologically active form of vitamin D. Circulating cholecalciferol help to defend your system from microbial invaders.
Why is Cholecalciferol Important?
Cholecalciferol is extremely important because it one of the controlling factors in the regulation of calcium and phosphorous concentrations. Since these two minerals are so widely used in your body, the amount of cholecalciferol you have can affect your bone structure, blood pressure, hormone production and your potential for diseases and cancers.
The most obvious function of vitamin D3 is its effect on bone growth, density and structural integrity. This vitamin is needed for proper integration of calcium and phosphorous to make strong, healthy bones. An insufficient supply of vitamin D can result in thin, porous bones that are brittle and easily breakable regardless of how much calcium and phosphorous supplements you take. Vitamin D deficient children are at higher risk of rickets, and deficiencies in adults and the elderly can lead to diseases like osteomalaciain and osteoporosis.
Cholecalciferol levels also affect your neuromuscular functions. It controls muscle relaxation in both your voluntary skeletal muscles as well as the involuntary muscles that line your organs and blood vessels. Inadequate supply of this vitamin can cause muscle cramping and tetanus. Low vitamin D levels also cause continuous blood vessel constriction, which increase your blood pressure and raise your risks of cardiovascular diseases and migraines. You will also be more susceptible to stress-related syndromes like anxiety, schizophrenia and insomnia.
Cholecalciferol sufficiency is also important to prevent inflammation, infection and cell mutation. Higher level of circulating cholecalciferol strengthens your body’s defense against pathogen invasions. Studies have proved the efficacy of this vitamin in reducing flu rates. Since cholecalciferol also regulates cell proliferation, growth and deaths, deficiency of this vitamin can cause tumor growth and increase your risk of breast, ovarian, colon and pancreatic cancers.
How To Prevent Vitamin D3 Deficiency?
You can prevent vitamin D3 deficiency by combining sun exposure with adequate dietary intake. Since UV radiation is required for your skin to synthesize this vitamin, you should try to maintain at least 15 minutes of outdoor activity every day.
In terms of diet, the recommended daily value of vitamin D for the general population is 400 I.U. People over the age of 70 should take about 600 I.U. per day. Foods like fatty fish, whole egg, red meat, animal liver and mushrooms are naturally high in vitamin D3. You will also find significant amount of vitamin D fortified into in dairy and egg products as well as milk substitutes and cereals. OTC cholecalciferol is also available either in its isolated form or in combination with fish oil or calcium supplements.