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Women’s health: shedding light on Vitamin D

Boston University Medical Center
Department of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology, Nutrition, and Diabetes, Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory, Boston, MA, USA


Throughout evolution sunlight produced vitamin D in the skin has been critically important for women’shealth. Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is actually a hormone. Once it is produced in the skin or ingested fromthe diet it is converted sequentially in the liver and kidneys to its biologically active form 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Thishormone interacts with its receptor in the small intestine to increase the efficiency of intestinal calcium and phosphateabsorption for the maintenance of the skeleton throughout life. Vitamin D deficiency during the first few years of liferesults in a flattened pelvis making it difficult for childbirth. Vitamin D deficiency causes osteopenia and osteoporosisincreasing risk of fracture in women. Essentially every tissue and cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor. Thereforevitamin D deficiency has been linked in women to increased risk for preeclampsia, requiring a Cesarean section forbirthing, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, type II diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer andinfectious diseases. Therefore sensible sun exposure along with vitamin D supplementation of at least 2000 IU/d isessential to maximize women’s health.


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