The direct benefits of vitamin D include regulation of the absorption of the minerals calcium and phosphorous as well as the metabolism and maintenance of normal levels of calcium and phosphorous in the bloodstream. This vitamin also prevents a condition known as osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children. There also are indirect benefits of vitamin D, such as the ability of the body to produce healthy bones and teeth as a result of good absorption of calcium and phosphorous, which are involved in other vital functions and processes as well. It is, therefore, necessary to consider the benefits of vitamin D in light of its effect on these specific minerals.
Vitamin D, dubbed the "sunshine vitamin," is rarely associated with strong bones and teeth, but it should be for several reasons. A person can consume adequate amounts of calcium and phosphorous, but if these nutrients are not absorbed from the intestines in sufficient quantities, the teeth and bones will not be fortified. If these minerals are not kept at normal levels in the blood, other problems could result.
Although rickets is rarely seen in children in industrialized nations, its prevention should not be forgotten or taken lightly as one of the benefits of vitamin D. The telltale signs and symptoms of problems with the bones and teeth are prevalent in rickets. Bones that are soft and that easily bend, leading to bowed legs, are among the consequences of a vitamin D deficiency. Teeth that are prone to decay and stunted growth also afflict children who are deprived of the benefits of vitamin D.
A loss of strength in the bones of an adult is seen in osteomalacia, which is provoked by a vitamin D deficiency. Problems with the bones and teeth often prompt the thought or suspicion that the body needs more calcium and other minerals, but not vitamin D. Consideration for the role of vitamin D in the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous has proved to be very helpful in a person coming to enjoy strong bones and teeth.
Calciferol, or vitamin D, is a unique nutrient in that it is not readily available in foods. The best "source" of the vitamin is simple exposure of at least the arms, hands and face to natural sunlight for a minimum of 10 minutes twice a week. Other ways to enjoy the direct and indirect benefits of vitamin D include consuming foods that have been fortified with the nutrient. Fish oils, milk and mushrooms figure among the food sources of vitamin D.