Did you know that Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for our body?
Then why do most of us don't get enough of it?
Vitamin D is actually a hormone made by our body as we are exposed to the sunlight? And that's why Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin is an essential nutrient that has several important functions in the body.
FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN D
- Vitamin D helps our body absorb the amount of calcium and phosphorus (minerals) it needs to form strong bones
- Increases Bone density
- Helps with body’s bone development and muscle function
- Known to help prevent heart disease, and certain types of cancer, including those that affect the breast, colon, and ovaries
- Essential to the regulation of cell growth activity
- It can even help to reduce inflammation
SOURCES OF VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is made in the skin under the influence of sunlight. Vitamin D is formed when our skin is exposed to UVB radiation from the sun. It is the most natural way to obtain the Vitamin. It takes 48 hours for the vitamin to get absorbed into our blood stream. After which the vitamin levels in our body gets elevated. The amount of sunlight required varies from person to person and is dependent on the skin color, the ideal time of the year what time in the day it is. In peak summer, when the sun’s rays are direct even a few minutes of standing in the sunlight is sufficient. The amount of absorption also reduces with age. Despite the ability to get vitamin D from food and the sun, it is found that most adults are deficient. However, prolonged exposure to sun is not advised.
Next to sun, the important source of vitamin D is foods, where it may occur naturally. The richest food sources of Vitamin D include the following:
- Salmon, Tuna fish, Mackerel
- Egg yolk
- Orange juice
Including Vitamin D fortified foods also in your diet is a must. When buying cereals or dairy products you can check the nutritional information. Reading food labels is of great help here.
Consumption of excess sugar, caffeine and alcohol interferes with the normal metabolism of the vitamin. Therefore it should be consumed minimally to enhance the absorption.
If you can’t get enough Vitamin D from your diet, you can get all the Vitamin D you need from Vitamin D3 supplements.
VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
Vitamin D deficiency is likely to play an important role in the very high prevalence of Rickets in children and Osteomalacia in adults.
In the absence of Vitamin D, one notices symptoms such as bone pain and muscle weakness. The symptoms usually are subtle and might go unnoticed also at times until the vitamin deficiency becomes more severe.
Muscle cramps and weakness, low immunity, fatigue, blood sugar problems, achiness in bones and muscles are all signs of the deficiency. If left untreated or commonly overlooked, it can lead to serious health problems such as:
- Osteopenia or osteoporosis
- Rickets in children
- Contracting the cold or the flu (weakened immune system)
- Cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure and/or congestive heart failure)
Inadequate exposure to sunlight, digestive problems, kidney and liver disorders and insufficient intake of Vitamin D rich foods are all reasons that cause the deficiency of this most essential nutrient.
Take a proactive approach that’ll help to prevent and avoid these chronic diseases associated with Vitamin D deficiency.