Vitamin D is also called “the sunshine vitamin” because of its crucial role in human and animal health. Without the necessary amount of Vitamin D good health will never be possible. Maintaining a proper Vitamin D level is crucial for maintaining health, and preventing numerous chronic diseases, autoimmune diseases, various conditions and even cancers.
Importance of vitamin D
1. Helps to absorb calcium and phosphorus to keep your muscles and bones strong and healthy. Therefore, Vitamin D may prevent and treat muscle and bone pains, chronic fatique and osteoporosis.
2. Vital for proper functioning of your immune system. Vitamin D may prevent and treat immune disorders as well as common colds, flu and other infections.
3. Controls the growth of normal and cancerous cells, so it may be important for prevention and treatment of various cancers.
4. Stimulates production of insulin in the pancreas. It reduces insulin resistance and so can prevent and treat Type 2 diabetes.
5. Inhibits RAAS (Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System), which may prevent hypertension (high blood pressure), kidney disease, coronary heart disease, heart failure.
6. Very important for maintaining healthy skin. It may be helpful in treatment of some skin disorders like Psoriasis.
7. Helps with calcium and phosphorus absorption, it can help prevent many dental issues.
8. Affects your mood, so may prevent and treat mood disorders such as depression.
9. Very important for proper development and functioning of the brain. It may prevent and treat such disorders as Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Autism.
Vitamin D deficiency is becoming alarmingly common among adults and children of all ages.
Low levels of Vitamin D can lead to a variety of serious health problems.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms named below, you may be Vitamin D deficient and your vitamin D levels should be tested so you could accordingly increase your Vitamin D by either staying longer in the sunlight, eating vitamin D rich food, or taking Vitamin D supplements.
Related article: Powerful Immunity-Boosting Probiotics
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
- Compromised immune system / weak immune system, easily get sick with colds, flu, other infections
- Respiratory problems
- Lack of energy or chronic fatique
- Muscles ache, pain, cramps
- Joint pain
- Muscles weakness
- Consistently feeling pain all over
- Poor bone development or/and low bone density (osteoporosis)
- Skin condition (dry and peeling skin, rashes, poorly healing wounds, etc.) etc.
Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of disease
1. Chronic diseases
- Heart disease
- Infectious diseases
- Type I diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
2. Dying from cancer
How the body makes Vitamin D
Vitamin D is, in fact, a hormone. It is produced in the skin from pro-vitamin D3 which is derived from cholesterol. Cholesterol is a precursor for most hormones in your body.
Type B ultraviolet rays (UVB) from the sun act on pro-vitamin D3 and convert it into pre-vitamin D3, which is then converted into Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 then leaves the skin and gets into your blood stream where it is carried on a special protein called a vitamin D-binding protein.
Through blood circulation, Vitamin D3 reaches various organs in your body. In the liver, Vitamin D3 undergoes a slight change in its chemical structure. Then it is carried through the blood stream to the kidneys where it goes through another change in its chemical structure – active form of Vitamin D. It gets in the blood stream and goes to various parts of the body and exerts its actions.
Causes of Vitamin D deficiency
- Kidneys disease/failure – kidneys inability to convert Vitamin D into its active form
- Digestive tract problems (Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease) – inability to absorb vitamin D
- Diet low on vitamin D rich foods
- No or very limited exposure to sunlight daily
- Dark skin tone – dark skin requires longer exposure to sunlight to produce vitamin D. African American person may need 6 to 10 fold the time in the sun as compared to a white person in order to produce the same amount of Vitamin D
- Sun screens, pollution, shade– a sunscreen with a SPF of 8 or more reduces the ability of the skin to form vitamin D by more than 95%. Complete cloud cover, shade and pollution reduce solar UVB affect (energy) by 50%
- Age – the skin of elderly people typically produces only about 25% of Vitamin D3 as compared to the skin of a young person
Sources of Vitamin D – Treatment of Vitamin D deficiency
- Sunbathing (major source of Vitamin D)
As mention, vitamin D deficiency is becoming more and more common so you need to make sure you’re getting enough. The normal amount of Vitamin D that you should be getting daily depends on where you live in the world. If you don’t live in the warmest and sunniest areas, and your diet doesn’t include Vitamin D rich foods, then you need to take additional Vitamin D supplements.
If you don’t get enough sunlight you will have to rely on artificial sources of Vitamin D.
Your body needs Vitamin D for good health. In fact you cannot be healthy without it.
All you need to do is eat healthy and get enough exposure to sunlight. If you don’t get enough of it from the food you eat and exposure from sunlight then you should take Vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D rich food:
- Fatty fish, fish oil
- Eggs (egg yolks)
- Fortified milk
- Beef liver
Recommended daily dose of Vitamin D
Recommanded daily dose may vary from one person to another. Depending on your health issues, sun exposure, diet, skin tone, you may need or may not need extra supplemention of Vitamin D.
Excess of Vitamin D may cause serious health issues.
To prevent any health issues related to overdosing Vitamin D, you should get your Vitamin D levels checked. Then your health care provider could recommend you the proper dose for you.
Please, always discuss it with your health care provider before taking any supplements to prevent any side effects and injuries.
Vitamin D2 vs D3
There are two forms of Vitamin D: Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2.
Vitamin D3 you get from sun and fatty fish. Most vitamin supplements include vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 form is more potent than Vitamin D2. Also Vitamin D3 half life is longer than Vitamin D2 which means it stays in the body for longer period of time than Vitamin D2.
Vitamin D2 you get from vegetables. Vitamin D2 is usually a prescription form of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is vital to maintain health. Due to many variables healthy diet, limited sunlight exposure don’t prevent from Vitamin D deficiency. It is important to get Vitamin D levels checked and supplement it if necessary.