Adequate levels of vitamin D can be produced by the body with regular exposure to sunlight. Sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D, you can also obtain it through your diet. Vitamin D is also called as ‘sunshine vitamin’. Vitamin D refers to a group of fat soluble secosteroids. In humans the most important compounds in this group are cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol. These can be ingested from the diet and from supplements. The body can also synthesize vitamin D especially cholecalciferol in the skin, from cholesterol, when sun exposure is adequate. It is stored in the body. Vitamin D is important for good overall health and strong healthy bones
Functions of vitamin D
- Promoting the absorption of calcium which is necessary for healthy bones
- Promotes the intestinal absorption of the calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc
- Activated vitamin DS is the one of the most potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth
- It also stimulates your pancreas to make insulin.
- Vitamin D reduces blood pressure by decreasing the production of a hormone called renin, which is believed to play a role in hypertension
- Vitamin D is necessary for brain development
- Vitamin D is required for healthy heart, circulation and healthy lungs and airway
- Helps you to fight infections
- Activated vitamin D working in two ways 1.manage calcium in your blood, bone and gut. 2. Helps cells allover your body to commu7nicate properly
- Vitamin D may also plays a role in reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis, heart diseases
How to Get Vitamin D?
Regular sun exposure can stimulate the human skin to produce quantities of vitamin D that far exceed your needs. Sunlight is the largest single source of vitamin D for most people. Just 5 to 10 minutes in the sun two to three times a week exposing your hands, legs and arms is more than adequate to satisfy your vitamin d requirement, and you are not likely to significantly increase your risk of skin cancer on the process. After 5 to ten minutes of exposure, put on a sunscreen containing spf15 or greater for the rest of your time in the sunlight.
Many life style and enviro9nmental factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amount of this vitamin through the sun alone. These factors include
- Use of sun screen
- Spending more time indoors
- Longer working hours in offices
- Living in big cities where buildings block the sun light.
What are the Foods Containing the Vitamin D?
Along with the sun light, you can also obtain it through your diet. Vitamin D is present in
- Dairy products like milk, yogurt
- Fatty fish
- Certain mushrooms
- Cod liver oil
- Egg yolk
- Vitamin D fortified foods-fortified means vitamin is fortified with vitamin
How Much Vitamin D You Need?
For 0-12 months the recommended allowance is 400IU. For children, teens and adults up to the age 70 the recommended dose is 600IU.800IU is recommended above the age of 70.pregnant and breast feeding women require 600IU.
Vitamin D Deficiency:
Vitamin D deficiency leads to so many problems such as
Vitamin D plays an important role in absorbing calcium from the food in the intestine. If you are deficient in vitamin D, you will be calcium deficient as well. Calcium is required for building stronger and healthy bones. Vitamin D deficiency results in weak, soft and achy bones. Lack of calci9um deposits due to vitamin D deficiency also causes rickets in children and osteomalasia in adults. It also affects the bone density in adults, which increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Rickets, a childhood disease is characterized by impeded growth and soft, weak, deformed long bones that bend and bow under their weight as children starts to walk. This condition is characterized by bow legs, calcium or phosphorus deficiency, as well as a lack of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency remains the main cause of rickets among young infants in most countries, because breast milk is low in vitamin D
Osteomalacia refers to a softening of your bones, often caused by a vitamin D deficiency. Soft bones are more likely to bow and fracture than are harder healthy bones. It results from a defect in the bone building process. Muscle weakness and achy bones are the major symptoms of osteomalacia.
- Diabetes:-the number of diabetic people is increasing day by day and most of them might be deficient in vitamin D. vitamin D is required to balance sugar levels in the blood by regulating the secretion of insulin
- Hypertension:-people having low levels of vitamin D had a higher risk of developing hypertension
- Cardiovascular risk:-vitamin D deficiency is significantly associated with increased risk of fatal cardiovascular events
- Infections:-people who are defici9ent in vitamin D are at an increased risk of developing recurrent infections
- Anemia:-peoples having low levels of the hemoglobin also had low levels of vitamin D
- brain damage:-vitamin D deficiency can affect the oxidative status of the brain , cognitive performance and memory power
- Infertility:-vitamin D stimulates the production of male hormone testosterone and female hormone progesterone. Vitamin D deficiency leads to decreased production of these hormones
- Crohn’s disease:-it is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the intestine. Low levels of vitamin D affects the genetic expression involved in crohns disease making the symptoms more worse
- Aging:-withy low levels of vitamin D, your body will start ageing prematurely. Vitamin D deficiency cause early ageing of bone because of reduced bone mass
- Depression:-an oral vitamin D therapy for 8-12 weeks significantly improved depression symptoms
- Cancer:-there is abundant evidence supporting the role of vitamin D levels and reduced risk of colon, prostate, breast cancers.
How to Overcome Vitamin D Deficiency?
- Sunlight is the natural source of vitamin D. So pants need to encourage their kids to play outdoor games ten they will get sufficient exposure to the sun. To initiate this, families can make a habit of a daily visit to a nearby park or garden, especially the ones residing in closed housing complexes.
- Children should be analyzed periodically by a physician or pediatrician for impaired growth or development, bony deformities and other signs of vitamin D deficiency. Children showing positive signs of vitamin D deficiency should be administered with vitamin D and their parents should be educated towards lifestyle and diet modification and about the availability of vitamin D fortified food
- Women, especially the pregnant and breast feeding group should ensure sufficient sun exposure and consume vitamin D rich diet and fortified food to meet the excess demand of their body
- Adults and older people should take care to get the recommended amount of vitamin D
- The vitamin is well absorbed from foods like fortified milk and from vitamin pills, whether taken alone or in combination with other foods
Is Vitamin D Toxic in High Doses?
Vitamin D toxicity is not caused by sun light exposure, but can be caused by supplementing with high doses of vitamin D.
The vitamin D toxicity cause hyperparathyroidism, hypercalcemia, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, polyuria, polydipsia, weakness, insomnia, proteinuria, metastatic calcification, pruritus mental retardation in young children, irritability, weight loss, severe depression, abnormal growth and bone formation
What is the Treatment for Vitamin D Toxicity?
Discontinue the vitamin D supplements and restrict the calcium intake