Featured Image Caption: All About Vitamin D
Vitamin D has enjoyed some time in the spotlight recently as experts have posited that supplementing the essential vitamin could be linked to reduced risk of catching Covid-19. However, before it was marketed as a potential defense against the pandemic, Vitamin D had long been praised as an important nutrient that helps stave off a whole range of maladies.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in a variety of foods, though for most people, their main source of Vitamin D is sunlight; this is because the body creates Vitamin D when exposed to UV rays. For this reason, Vitamin D is sometimes known as the “sunshine vitamin.”
Because Vitamin D is fat-soluble, the body finds it harder to excrete than water-soluble vitamins. The positive side of this is that the body can build up stores of Vitamin D over time, so a small amount of time without exposure to sources of Vitamin D won’t render you deficient. On the other hand, it means that it’s easier to overdo it on Vitamin D, though this is very unlikely to happen through natural sources of Vitamin D such as sunlight and food.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential to our overall health.
One of its main functions is to enable calcium and phosphorus to be used to build strong bones, preventing fractures and illnesses like osteomalacia and osteoporosis. This is particularly important for the elderly, who are more likely to fall over and suffer serious consequences as a result of frailty. Without Vitamin D, your body is only able to absorb a small amount of calcium and phosphorus, meaning that upping calcium and phosphorus-rich foods to increase bone density is a fruitless endeavor unless you ensure your Vitamin D levels are sufficient.
Vitamin D also works in tandem with the parathyroid gland, which balances calcium levels in the blood by communicating with the skeleton, kidneys, and gut.
Getting sufficient Vitamin D also plays a huge role in general health and well-being and has been proven to help protect against heart disease; high blood pressure; diabetes; multiple sclerosis; breast, colon, and prostate cancers; and immune system disorders.
Sources of Vitamin D
The best way to ensure you have enough Vitamin D is to spend time in direct sunlight. Of course, we are told to limit our sun exposure to decrease the risk of skin cancers, so it is important to be sensible.
10 to 15 minutes of the summer sun, twice a day, should be all you need for your body to create enough Vitamin D. However, the weaker winter sun is not strong enough for your body to fulfill its Vitamin D requirements by itself. This is where foods, and if necessary, supplements, come into play.
Vitamin D does not occur naturally in many foods, but Vitamin D is often added to foods to increase their nutritional content.
In terms of food, the best source of Vitamin D is oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring. Egg yolk is also rich in Vitamin D, as are liver and red meat.
Different countries take different approaches to fortifying food with Vitamin D, so ensure you consult national guidelines to determine which foods are fortified where you are. Commonly, milk, yogurts, and cereals are fortified with Vitamin D.
Vitamin D Deficiency
According to the National Institutes of Health, the amount of Vitamin D you need depends on your age, with infants recommended to take in at least 400 IUs (international units) per day and people over 70 advised to take in at least 800 IUs of Vitamin D per day.
Vitamin D deficiency is more likely in people who live far from the equator as the sun is generally weaker there. In addition, older people and people with darker skin are more likely to suffer from Vitamin D deficiencies.
Certain medical conditions, particularly those that disrupt the body’s ability to absorb fat, increase the risk of Vitamin D deficiency. This includes cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis, and celiac disease. Kidney and liver diseases can also put the sufferer at risk of Vitamin D deficiency due to the reduction in enzymes that help the body process Vitamin D.
If you are deficient in Vitamin D, you may experience fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, or mood changes. Vitamin D deficiency in children can sometimes be more serious and lead to rickets, which can cause joint deformities.
If you suspect you may be deficient in Vitamin D, you should visit a doctor for Vitamin D supplements. These may be necessary to restore your Vitamin D levels alongside sun exposure and increased consumption of Vitamin D-rich foods.
With Vitamin D being essential for your body to perform many of its basic functions, the importance of getting enough, whether via food or sunlight, cannot be underestimated. Be sure to eat a nutrient-dense diet and spend time in the sun to avoid becoming deficient in the “sunshine vitamin.”
By Alan Lockman
who is a copywriter at Homework writing service and Research papers UK. He freelances as a writer and editor. His articles are often based on scientific research, related to technology and health. In his spare time, Alan browses social networks in search of current news. He also writes for Writinity.