Vitamin D-Are You Getting Enough?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble micronutrient, naturally present in very few foods. We often call this essential vitamin “sunshine vitamin” as our body produces Vitamin D when its skin exposes to sunlight.
Vitamin D is necessary for multiple reasons like protect against several diseases, maintenance of body functions like digestive system & immune system, regulation of blood sugar level, fertility, and enhance the health of bones & teeth, etc. As an essential nutrient, we must consume it from the diet.
From Vitamin’s family, Vitamin D is the only one that attracts most of the scientific studies as multiples studies or research articles were published since 2000.
In this article, I will show my readers various roles of vitamin D that are beneficial for good health. We will also discuss its different forms, its deficiency symptoms & the reason behind its deficiency.
In the end, I will provide you three underlying sources of Vitamin D and how much we should get. So, stick with the article.
Vitamin D in the Body
Vitamin is essential to the body including neuromuscular & immune function, modulation of cell growth and reduction of in inflammation, etc.; I describe each of one below;
Vitamin D for Bones
Vitamin D plays a significant role in promoting the health of your bones, both by helping it to absorb maximum calcium and by supporting muscles.
Calcium is a mineral that is vital for life as our bones & teeth are 99 % calcium.
So lack of vitamin D can cause various bone disorders like Rickets. The research-based study found that vitamin D deficiency is most common in people with rheumatoid arthritis, and is also connected to musculoskeletal pain.
Vitamin D for Immune System & Inflammation
Vitamin D is very significant for the proper functioning of the immune system. The immune system is our protection system that helps the body to combat the foreign invaders.
This Vitamin promotes the immune response. Vitamin D is famous for improving the functioning of immune cells like macrophages and T-cells that protect the human body from pathogens.
It has both immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. It works for us and reduces inflammation in the body. Vitamin D leads to prevention from autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin D & Digestive Diseases
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is very beneficial against inflammatory bowel disease; it is a chronic disease in which inflammation occurs in almost all or some portion of the digestive tube.
It has two types; Crohn’s disease & Ulcerative Colitis.
In this disease, Vitamin D may support the immune system to minimize the excessive production of inflammatory proteins. In that way, Vitamin is very crucial for digestive problems like this.
Vitamin D & Cancer
Research shows that women who have a deficiency of Vitamin D are at a higher risk of breast cancer.
Vitamin D may play a key role in maintaining average breast cell growth and may block the growth of breast cancer cells. If you take 1000 units of Vitamin D, it may decrease the risk of colon cancer.
Vitamin D & Heart Health
Vitamin D has achieved significant importance for its vital role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. People with a low level of vitamin D are at substantial risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and diabetes.
Vitamin D has significant power to reverse the harm that hypertension, Atherosclerosis, and other such disorders cause to the cardiovascular system.
Vitamin D & Blood Sugar
Vitamin D increases the sensitivity of the body to insulin which is a hormone that regulates the blood sugar level.
And in this way minimizes the danger of insulin resistance. Some scientists even say that vitamin D may maintain the production of insulin in Pancreas.
Vitamin D & Fertility
Vitamin D appears to be responsible for excellent fertility and also healthy pregnancy. So, it is hazardous for a pregnant woman to be deficient in vitamin D.
Forms of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that works like a steroid hormone in the human body. In the body, there are mainly two forms of vitamin D;
- Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) – one can find it in some mushrooms
- Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) – it is available in egg yolk, fish liver oil, and oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, etc
Vitamin D3 is the most powerful and raises the blood level of Vitamin D more than from Vitamin D2.
We can produce large amounts of vitamin D when it exposes to UV rays from the sunlight. Your body’s every cell has a receptor for vitamin D.
Sources of Vitamin D
- Sources of Vitamin D-Sun Exposure
Your skin produces this essential Vitamin in reaction to sunlight and stores it for future use. How much vitamin D skin you can depend on the season, day time, skin pigmentation, latitude, age, and other critical factors.
As we age, our skin reduces its ability to produce Vitamin D. People who live in institutional settings like nursing homes and cities spend very less time outdoors.
Even people, who stay outdoors, use sunscreen to avoid skin cancer, sunscreen with an SPF as low as 8 decrease its production by 95 %.
- Sources of Vitamin D-Foods
You can find Vitamin D in very few foods like fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna. It adds in milk or other dairy items, soymilk, orange juice, and fortified Cereals.
Check the food label if vitamin D has added to this particular item. One eight-oz serving of milk has typically 25% of the DV (Daily Value) of vitamin D.
- Sources of Vitamin D-Supplements
It is hard to get all the Vitamin D you require from food & sunlight, so consider using the supplement. There are two main types of vitamin D supplements; they are Vitamin D (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Both are good sources of calcium & phosphorous.
Vitamin D Deficiency
All over the world, vitamin D deficiency is a huge issue. In the US, up to 42%, the adult population has a low level of vitamin D. However, this rate rises to 70% in Hispanics and 82% in black people.
However, it is specifically common in elders, infants, young women, and individuals with dark skin.
Regular exposure to sunlight is best to fulfill your needs, but if you live far away from equator like far north or south of the equator, then vitamin D level may change according to the season. The concentration decreases in the winter season, due to less sunlight exposure.
For the winter season, you have to depend on the foods or supplements and stored vitamin D in body fat during the summer. In adults, its deficiency may cause;
- Intensity bone loss
- Muscle weakness
- Enhance the risk of fracture
In kids, a severe Vitamin D deficiency leads to delays in growth or Rickets. Furthermore, its shortage links with type 1 diabetes, several cancers, and multiple sclerosis, several cancers, high blood pressure, and thyroid problems.
How Much Vitamin D Do We Need?
How much vitamin D we require depends on several key factors. These factors comprise race, age, latitude, sun exposure, clothing, and many more.
According to the US Institute of Medicine, an average of 10-20 micrograms, or 400-800 IU, is appropriate for 97.5% of people.
But, there is a study present that says if you are not exposed to the sun, then you have to increase this amount. Overweight & obese needs a higher amount of Vitamin D. Healthy adults need a daily intake of 1120-1680 IU to maintain blood levels.
If we consider all things, a daily intake of vitamin D should be 1000-4000 IU, or 25-100 mg, to ensure the average blood level in most of the people.
The fat-soluble micronutrient, vitamin D, is one of the 24 micronutrients vital for human growth or survival. The natural source is the sun, but you can also find it naturally in fish or eggs, also added in dairy items.
Supplements of Vitamin D are also very beneficial to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and many more. The human body needs it about 1000-4000 IU or 25-100 mg. Its deficiency leads to many health disorders. So, Vitamin D is critical to us.