VITAMIN D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplementIt, is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.
TWO TYPES OF VITAMIN D
1. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) – which is synthesised by plants and is not produced by the human body.
2. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – which is made in large quantities in the skin when sunlight strikes bare skin. It can also be ingested from animal sources
HOW CAN WE GET IT ?
The two main ways to get vitamin D are by exposing your bare skin to sunlight and by taking vitamin D supplements. You can’t get the right amount of vitamin D your body needs from food. The most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight (ultraviolet B rays). Thirty minutes of sun exposure to the face, legs, or back -- without sunscreen -- at least twice a week should give you plenty of vitamin D. But this much direct sun exposure might also expose you to potentially dangerous levels of cancer-causing UV radiation.
SOURCES OF VITAMIN D
- Fortified spreads
- Fortified breakfast cereal Powdered milk
- Egg yolk
- Milk (fortified)
- Cereal (fortified)
- Yogurt (fortified)
- Orange juice (fortified)
- Fish Oil
FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN D
1. VITAMIN D MAKES OUR BONES STRONG
Without satisfactory levels of Vitamin D in the body, bones can become thin and brittle. An adequate amount of Vitamin D prevents osteoporosis ( a condition where the density of bone decreases) in older adults.An adequate amount of Vitamin D in the body prevents hypocalcemic tetany (a condition due to low blood calcium level). Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralisation ( the process of mineral formation) of bones.
2. VITAMIN D BOOSTS WEIGHT LOSS
Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease.In one study, people who took a daily vitamin D supplement didn’t lose a significant amount of weight, but were able to improve their heart disease risk markers. In another study, people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The scientists said the extra calcium and vitamin D had an appetite-suppressing effect.
3. VITAMIN D FIGHTS DEPRESSION
Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.In another study of people with fibromyalgia, researchers found vitamin D deficiency was more common in those who were also experiencing anxiety and depression.
4. REDUCED RISK OF DIABETES
Several observational studies have shown an inverse relationship between blood concentrations of vitamin D in the body and risk of type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetics, insufficient vitamin D levels may have an adverse effect on insulin secretion and glucose tolerance.
5. CANCER PREVENTION
Vitamin D is extremely important for regulating cell growth and for cell-to-cell communication. Some studies have suggested that calcitriol (the hormonally active form of vitamin D) can reduce cancer progression by slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue, increasing cancer cell death and by reducing cell proliferation and metastases. Research is still going on it.
6. VITAMIN D FIGHTS DISEASES
In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in: reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis, decreasing your chance of developing heart disease, helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu.
SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
1. BONE AND BACK PAIN
Vitamin D is involved in maintaining bone health through a number of mechanisms.For one, it improves your body’s absorption of calcium. Bone pain and lower back pain may be signs of inadequate vitamin D levels in the blood.
2. FATIGUE AND TIREDNESS
Feeling tired can have many causes and vitamin D deficiency may be one of them.Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked as a potential cause.Case studies have shown that very low blood levels can cause fatigue that has a severe negative effect on quality of life.Taking supplements may help improve energy levels.
3. GETTING SICK AND INFECTED OFTEN
One of vitamin D’s most important roles is keeping your immune system strong so you’re able to fight off the viruses and bacteria that cause illness. It directly interacts with the cells that are responsible for fighting infection. If you become sick often, especially with colds or the flu, low vitamin D levels may be a contributing factor.
4. HAIR LOSS
Hair loss is often attributed to stress, which is certainly a common cause. However, when hair loss is severe, it may be the result of a disease or nutrient deficiency. Hair loss in women has been linked to low vitamin D levels, although there is very little research on this so far.
5. MUSCLE PAIN
The causes of muscle pain are often difficult to pinpoint. There is some evidence that vitamin D deficiency may be a potential cause of muscle pain in children and adults. Which may be due to the interaction between the vitamin and pain-sensing nerve cells.
Depressed mood may also be a sign of deficiency. In review studies, researchers have linked vitamin D deficiency to depression, particularly in older adults.
5. IMPARIED WOUND HEALING
Slow healing of wounds after surgery or injury may be a sign that vitamin D levels are too low. Results from a test-tube study suggest that the vitamin increases production of compounds that are crucial for forming new skin as part of the wound-healing process. It’s also been suggested that vitamin D’s role in controlling inflammation and fighting infection is important for proper healing.
HOW TO CHECK VITAMIN D
The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL* is considered adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 ng/mL * indicates vitamin D deficiency.