This is the first in a series of posts about research into the importance of Vitamin D which is actually a vitamin and a prohormone. A prohormone has no hormonal effect by itself, but is a precursor to hormones. The conversion to an actual hormone through enzymes in your body sort of adds additional features and benefits to the vitamin D chassis, as if you were getting the tricked out Eddie Bauer version instead of your basic Ford Explorer.
Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, along with A, E and K. This European study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, compared the cognitive performance of more than 3,000 men aged 40 to 79 years at eight test centres across Europe. The researchers found that men with higher levels of vitamin D performed consistently better in a simple and sensitive neuropsychological test that assesses an individual’s attention and speed of information processing. Just one of literally dozens of recent studies on Vitamin D's importance.
Future posts will address Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis, diabetes mellitus, various cancers including colon, breast and prostate, and other medical conditions. Is it possible to get too much Vitamin D? Theoretically, yes, but if you live outside the tropics, it's very difficult, as the vitamin gets converted (with the help of the kidneys) to its active form by sun exposure. That is why doctors now recommend 10-15 minutes per day of unprotected sun exposure (more if you are naturally darker pigmented (e.g. African-American, Native American or Indian). Don't be afraid of the sun - you are 300 times more likely to die of a Vitamin D deficiency-related disease than of skin cancer. Do protect yourself if you'll be outside longer than 10-15 minutes, though.