Role & Essence of Vitamin D:
The framework of the body is formed by bones and bones are made up of calcium. Calcium is needed in cell functions and proper nerve and muscle function. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium and phosphorus from food in the small intestine. Therefore vitamin D is a much-needed nutrient in order to keep our body healthy. Vitamin D is also a fat-soluble vitamin. Approximately 50% of the world’s population is suffering from the deficiency of vitamin D.
There are two main type of vitamin D in humans –
- Vitamin D2 is also known as ergocalciferol and produced by plants.
- Vitamin D3 is known as cholecalciferol and produced within the body by absorption of sun rays. Hence, it is also known as the “sunshine vitamin.”
Both types of the vitamin are converted to their active forms in liver and kidneys.
Deficiency of vitamin D leads to osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children, a condition in which bones become soft, weak, and brittle. Deficiency of vitamin D can also lead to osteoporosis, a common bone disease in females. Thus vitamin D plays a major role in bone health. Further research is undergoing on the role of vitamin D in various areas other than bone health. These areas are:
In a health professional follow up study. It was found that men who have a low level of vitamin D in their blood are more prone to heart attacks as compared to the men who have adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood.
Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating cells and in the cell to cell communication. It can reduce cancer progression by not letting the development of tissues in cancerous cells, it also kills cancer cells. In some observational studies and preliminary lab studies, it was observed that higher vitamin D and calcium intake can lessen the risk of colorectal cancer.
Colds and flu:
Vitamin D levels are lowered during winter months due to less exposure to sunlight. It leads to the hypothesis that Colds and flu are caused more in winters when vitamin D levels are lowered in the body. In some observational studies, it was also found that people having lower levels of vitamin D are prone to catch respiratory tract infections.
Fights off depression:
Vitamin helps in reducing depression and improving your mood. Studies have shown that people who were into depression when received vitamin D witnessed an improvement in their symptoms. Other studies have shown that people suffering from anxiety and depression in fibromyalgia were deficient in vitamin D.
Vitamin D also helps against type-2 diabetes. It has been found that people deficient in vitamin D had a negative effect on insulin secretion and glucose tolerance. Many studies have shown that people who had an adequate amount of vitamin D didn’t develop type-1 diabetes till the age of 32.
Researches have shown that pregnant women who were deficient in vitamin D were found to be at a greater risk of developing preeclampsia and needed a cesarean section. Deficiency of vitamin D can also lead to bacterial vaginosis in women who were pregnant.
Sources of vitamin D-
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The main source of vitamin D is sunlight but it is advised to take vitamin through food as exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer.
Certain type of fatty fishes like herring, mackerel, salmon, tuna, and sardines contain vitamin D. Egg yolks, beef liver and cheese are considered to provide smaller amount of vitamin D. Mushrooms which are exposed to sunlight are good source of vitamin D. Nowadays many foods are fortified with vitamin D such as breakfast cereals, soy milk, rice milk etc. Many vitamin D supplements are available in the market in the form of chewing tablets, gummies and capsules. Vitamin D is also present in the cod liver oil. The preferred form of vitamin D is D3 because it is better utilized by the body.
Recommended intake of Vitamin D-
Recommend intake of vitamin D according to United States, the institute of medicines (IOM) are-
- Infants (0-6 months) – 200 mg/day
- Infants (6-12 months) – 260 mg/ day
- 1 to 3 year olds- 700 mg/day
- 4 to 8 year olds-1000mg/ day
- 9 to 18 year olds- 1300 mg/ day
- 19 to 50 year olds- 1000 mg/ day
- 51 to 70 year old males-1000 mg/ day
- 51 to 70 year old females- 1200mg/ day
- Pregnant or lactating women – 1300 mg/ day.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency-
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency can be-
- Painful bones
- Fatigue and getting tired quickly
- Getting sick frequently
- Hair loss
- Pain in muscles
These are all the common symptoms that you may notice when you are deficient of vitamin D. If the deficiency will last for a longer period of time it may cause obesity, diabetes, cancer (breast and prostrate mainly), fibromyalgia, osteoporosis.
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Risks on a higher intake of Vitamin D-
As it is truly said everything in excess is dangerous to health, the same goes for Vitamin D. National Institute of Health (NIH) has proposed that intake of vitamin D less than 10,000 IU per day is safe. Overconsumption of Vitamin D (hypervitaminosis D) can result into over-calcification of bone which can lead to hardening of blood vessels, heart, and kidney. The most common symptoms of hypervitaminosis D are the loss of appetite, headache, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea.
It is best to get your vitamin D from natural sources. Try staying away from the supplements as much as possible. Your diet should be balanced containing all the essential macronutrients in it. Your diet and how you prevent yourself from diseases will decide whether and for how long you will stay away from various diseases.
Stay healthy and Stay safe.
Be Happy, Be Peppy. LivePeppy! 🙂
Article Credits: Hafsa Zamindar | Mumbai | India