Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is required in order to maintain healthy and strong bones. The vitamin is popularly known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is formed when the body is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun and it is also found in certain foods dietary supplements. There are two major types of vitamin D, cholecalciferol or vitamin D3 and vitamin D 2 or ergocalciferol.
Vitamin D 3 is produced when the body is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet B rays. On the other hand vitamin D 2 is synthesized in plants , these two types of vitamins must undergo conversion in the kidneys and liver into their active form referred to as 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D which is easily utilized by the body.
Health Benefits of Vitamin D
The main role of vitamin D is to aid the body absorbing phosphorous and calcium in ileum or small intestines. Calcium is required in hardening of bones, proper nerve function, cell maturity and muscle function. It is widely known that people with vitamin D deficiency develop brittle and weak bones a condition referred to as osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children.
The vitamin is promoted by physicians for its beneficial role in the balance of phosphorus and calcium in the body. Other areas where the vitamin has shown promise and is under research include:
According to comprehensive research, men who had normal levels of vitamin D and another group who were deficient were followed for ten years. The study found out that men who had inadequate vitamin levels were twice likely to suffer from heart attack than those who had normal levels of the vitamin. Supplementing the vitamin in their serum helps in lowering the risk of cardiovascular and other heart related complications.
It is not grills or junk food that aggravates the chances of getting cancer, it is imperative that people should consume healthy diet and exercise regularly. Research shows that a higher intake of calcium and vitamin D is linked to lower risks of contracting cancer especially colorectal cancer. According to a recent study published, indicate that those people with a higher level of the vitamin had a 50% less chance of getting colorectal cancer.
Colds and flu
Flu virus causes cold and flu during the cold moths of winter ,some researchers have hypothesized that the influenza virus can be linked to vitamin D. Vitamin D levels are lower during winter because the sun’s ultraviolet rays do not reach the skin, therefore the synthesis of the vitamin is lowered. Moreover, observational studies indicate that people with low vitamin D levels have higher chances of contracting respiratory infections.
The evidence of vitamin D working on obese adults gave mixed results; according to study that was published in Nutritional Journal, 25 milligrams of the vitamin on a daily basis for three months in obese and overweight women induced a significant reduction in weight and fat mass than those who were not taking the vitamin.
Other beneficial uses of the vitamin include treatment of osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, fatigue, pain, kidney and thyroid disease, skin conditions, fibromyalgia among others.
Sources of vitamin
The main source of vitamin D is the synthesis by the skin when it is exposed to UVB rays, however since other studies show that the UV rays are linked to cancer. It is recommended that we seek alternative sources of vitamin D. There are numerous foods that contain the vitamins these include fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines.
Cheese, egg yolk, and beef liver have the vitamins in low quantities; on the other hand, mushrooms are the best source of vitamin D, because of its exposure to the sun’s UVB light it is known to have a high quantity of the vitamin. Although there are numerous foods that contain the vitamin there are other common foods that are fortified with the vitamin these include rice milk, soymilk, milk, yoghurt, margarines, and breakfast cereals.
Vitamin D supplements are available in the market in different forms such as liquid, gummies, capsules and chewable tablets and in some cases cod liver oil is utilized to improve the level of the vitamin in the body. Although the different vitamins are both beneficial to the body, vitamin D 3 is mostly preferred because it can be readily utilized in the body. The single supplements and multivitamins give varied quantities of the vitamin so it is imperative that you read the labels before purchasing any supplement.
For vegetarians their diet should include fortified source of vitamin D, this is important as it improves the bone structure and alleviates heart related conditions. Leafy greens such as spinach provide a required amount per single serving; natural sources of the vitamins are easily absorbed into the body system.
The recommended intake amount of the vitamin varies from children, adults to the elderly. For people between 0-50 years 200 UI, for 51-70 400 UI, for over 71 years 600 UI, while for nursing and pregnant women 200 UI is the recommended amount.
Vitamin D deficiency
There are numerous side effects of vitamin D deficiency they are often subtle and hard to notice because they take time to manifest. Blood test can be used to determine the level of vitamin D in the system. The side effects of minimal vitamin levels vary from mild to severe, in severe cases such as rickets, the vitamin level has been inadequate for a long time, and bone mineralization cannot occur therefore the bones become weak and bend.
Other diseases that are associated with prolonged deficiency of vitamin D include dental diseases, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart diseases, colorectal cancer, depression, and multiple sclerosis among others.
Vitamin D is important for the body because it helps the body in the utilization of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals, which are required for optimal, cell functioning. Early signs of the vitamin deficiency include muscle pains, poor posture, depression, seasonal affective disorder among others. It is recommended that to prevent these side effects it is vital to get enough sunlight everyday or take the recommended amount of dietary vitamin D supplement.