Vitamin D The Sunshine Vitamin May Be the Most Important Nutrient You Need

Vitamin D Sources
Vitamin D Sources

Vitamin D plays a much broader disease-fighting role than once thought. Being “D-ficient” may increase the risk of a host of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, some cancers, and multiple sclerosis, as well as infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and even the seasonal flu.

Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has recommended a daily of 200 International Units (IU) till 50 years. However, if you are above 50 years of age then you would require 400 IU of vitamin D. Naturally vitamin D is limited to small amounts in fish oils, eggs, and milk. Although pasteurized milk is fortified with vitamin D, dairy products made from milk, such as cheese and ice creams, are generally not fortified with vitamin D. Food thus provides marginally low amounts of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. For most people, the best way to get enough vitamin D is taking a supplement, but the level in most multivitamins (400 IU) is too low. Encouragingly, some manufacturers have begun adding 800 or 1,000 IU of vitamin D to their standard multivitamin preparations. If the multivitamin you take does not have 1,000 IU of vitamin D, you may want to consider adding a separate vitamin D supplement, especially if you don’t spend much time in the sun. Talk to your healthcare provider.

Although vitamin D supplements are not as effective as synthesizing vitamin D naturally by the body, they are still effective in treating several medical conditions. Vitamin D fortified food products and fortified milk can also provide this essential nutrient to our body.

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Vitamin D plays important roles in immune function. One of the most common symptoms of deficiency is an increased risk of illness or infections.
  • Excessive fatigue and tiredness may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Taking supplements may help improve energy levels.
  • Low blood levels of the vitamin may be a cause or contributing factor to bone pain and lower back pain.
  • Depression is associated with low vitamin D levels and some studies have found that supplementing improves mood.
  • Inadequate vitamin D levels may lead to poor wound healing following surgery, injury or infection.
  • A diagnosis of low bone mineral density may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Getting enough of this vitamin is important for preserving bone mass as you get older.
  • Hair loss may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency in female-pattern hair loss or the autoimmune condition alopecia areata.
  • There is a link between chronic pain and low blood levels of the vitamin, which may be due to the interaction between the vitamin and pain-sensing nerve cells.

The natural way to get enough Vitamin D in your body, you just need to spend some time in the sun. Exposing yourself to sunlight, helps your body produce vitamin D. UV rays from the sun trigger vitamin D production in skin. Too much unprotected exposure to the sun can be harmful, so all you need is 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure at least two times per week to the face, arms, hands, or back without sunscreen is usually sufficient to provide adequate vitamin D. Sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8 or greater will block UV rays that produce vitamin D. So, spend some time in the sun, get healthy.

Vitamin D Foods
Vitamin D Foods

Healthy Foods That Are High in Vitamin D

The main sources of vitamin D are sunshine, fatty fish, egg yolks, fish liver oils, fortified foods and supplements.

  • Cod liver oil contains 450 IU of vitamin D per teaspoon (4.9 ml). It is also high in other nutrients, such as vitamin A.
  • Eggs from commercially raised hens contain only about 30 IU of vitamin D per yolk. However, eggs from hens raised outside or fed vitamin D-enriched feed contain much higher levels.
  • Mushrooms can synthesize vitamin D2 when exposed to UV light. Only wild mushrooms or mushrooms treated with UV light are good sources of vitamin D.
  • Natural sources of vitamin D are limited, especially if you’re a vegetarian or don’t like fish. Fortunately, some foods that don’t naturally contain vitamin D are fortified with vitamin D, including cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice, cereals and oatmeal. They contain between 55 and 130 IU per serving.

Regular exposure to sunlight allows our skin cells to use ultraviolet-B rays to synthesize vitamin D, which has several benefits, including:

  1. It helps the intestine absorb nutrients, including calcium and phosphorus. This ensures strong bones and a strong immune system.
  2. Vitamin D prevents osteomalacia and rickets. Osteomalacia, which causes weakness of the muscular system and brittle bones, is most prevalent among adults with vitamin D deficiency. Rickets is a skeletal deformity mostly seen in children with vitamin D deficiency.
  3. Vitamin D provides calcium balance in the body that prevents osteoporosis or arthritis.
  4. Vitamin D regulates blood pressure, reduces stress and tension, relieves body aches and pains by reducing muscle spasms, reduces respiratory infections, helps in differentiation of the cells, aids in insulin secretion, helps fight depression, improves overall skin health by reducing wrinkles, makes skin soft, strong, and smooth, and improves cardiovascular strength by providing a protective lining for the blood vessels.
  5. Vitamin D is recommended in the treatment of several diseases. It may prevent preaclamsia by improving kidney function, cancer by controlling abnormal multiplication of ca
    ncer cells, diabetes mellitus by controlling insulin production, hyperparathyroidism by reducing parathyroid numbers, osteomalacia by improving bone and muscle strength, hypophosphatemia by controlling the phosphates in the body, hypocalcaemia by preventing abnormal deposition of calcium, and renal osteodystrophy by regulating calcium content and fibromyalgia.
Some of the Important Key Factors
  • Vitamin D levels are lowest in the winter months.
  • The active form of vitamin D tempers the damaging inflammatory response of some white blood cells, while it also boosts immune cells’ production of microbe-fighting proteins.
  • Children who have vitamin D-deficiency rickets are more likely to get respiratory infections, while children exposed to sunlight seem to have fewer respiratory infections.
  • Adults who have low vitamin D levels are more likely to report having had a recent cough, cold, or upper respiratory tract infection.

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