The sunshine vitamin or vitamin D is a fat-soluble or one can say lipid soluble steroid. Vitamin D helps in regulating the amount of phosphate and calcium in our body and helps bones, teeth, and muscle to stay healthy. Though it is named as vitamin it is considered as prohormone as our body is capable of generating vitamin D by itself and vitamins are that nutrients which are not possible to synthesize by the body and must be provided through supplements or diets. There are numerous health benefits of Vitamin D.
Good sources of vitamin D are the milk, fatty fish, beef liver, orange juice etc.
How is Vitamin D produced in our body?
Normally a bare skin exposure to the sun for 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times per week gives the body enough ability to produce vitamin D in sufficient quantity. But as vitamin D has only 2 weeks of half life, the body will soon run out of vitamin D like in the winter season.
Recently studies on vitamin D deficiency have shown that about 50% of adults as well as the child, worldwide, face vitamin D deficiency. Generally, people live in high altitude have minimum sun exposure which is why they need to have foods which are the sources of vitamin D or they need to take supplements.
A person with fair skin if exposed full body to the sun can produce up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D3 within 20 minutes. It is produced when the cholesterol on our skin is converted into vitamin D3 or calciol. Then in the liver calciol is converted into calcidiol or 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. After that calcidiol is converted into vitamin D or calcitriol in the kidney.
Usage & Benefits of Vitamin D:
- Vitamin D helps in maintaining the health of our bones and teeth.
- It also keeps the immune system, nervous system and brain in a good health.
- Vitamin D also helps in regulating insulin levels and protects us from type 1 diabetes.
- It supports the cardiovascular system and helps in the proper functioning of the lungs.
- Vitamin D influences the expression of cancer development genes.
Pic Credit from Dr. Jockers.Com
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency:
You can easily make out if you continuously face, bone pain, muscle pain or teeth ache, but if you are not sure about it then you can test your blood.
Some of the symptoms that will help you to diagnose or to decide whether you need a blood test or not are-
- Often the people who have minimum sun exposure face pigmentation in their skin. Inadequate amount of vitamin D will make the skin darker. So this is a sign which will inform you that if your skin is in need of sunlight or not.
- Often wondered why you feel sad when it is cloudy and feel lifted when it is sunny? It is because of the serotonin or the brain hormone which fluctuates in the different situations. The level of the hormone rises in the exposure of bright light and lowers in minimum sun exposure. So if you feel low all the time, then my friend you need to face the sun.
- Pain in the bone is another indication of vitamin D deficiency.
How Vitamin D helps you to get better health conditions?
As other vitamins and minerals are needed for your body, vitamin D also has some potential health benefits that make it essential for our body.
- Stronger Bones: One of the most important roles that Vitamin D plays is the regulation of phosphorus and calcium levels in our body which are also responsible for maintaining a good health of our bone. Certainly, if our body faces deficiency in vitamin D then it will highly affect our bones. Vitamin D also helps in absorbing the calcium in our intestines and to regain the calcium from the kidney. Any child who faces a severe deficiency of vitamin D can be affected by rickets which results in bow shaped legs which are very fragile in nature. In the adults, osteomalacia or osteoporosis is the common disorder because of Vitamin D deficiency. In both cases, the bones become weak and fracture-prone.
- Prevention from Cancer: Vitamin D also support cell growth and the communication from one cell to other. Now many studies have proven that the calcitriol which is the very active hormonal form of vitamin D has the ability to reduce cancer progression. Calcitriol increases the death of cancerous tissues by lowering the speed of the growth and development of new blood vessels in the carcinogenic tissues hence, the cell proliferation and metastases process also get reduced.
- Protection from Flu: If children are given a dosage of 1,200 IU of vitamin D per day for 4 consecutive months during the winter season, it reduces the risk of having infection related to influenza A by over 40%.
- Protection from Diabetes: Many studies have conducted to see the relation between diabetes and vitamin D. In most cases it has been found that vitamin D has an inverse relation with diabetes, which means the deficiency of vitamin D maximizes the risk of having diabetes. Lower amount of vitamin D also affects the insulin secretion and glucose tolerance.In a study where the infants are given 2,000 IU/day, has shown that they have 88% of the lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes when they will be at the age of 32.
- Healthy Children: A study proved that children with normal blood pressure who took the dose of 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D had lower arterial wall stiffness than the children who took only 400 IU/day, after 16 weeks. Atopic diseases and allergic diseases like asthma, atopic dermatitis and eczema are more likely to affect the children who have vitamin D deficiency.
- Healthy Pregnancy: Proper vitamin D is needed for a woman who is pregnant as both low and high amount of vitamin D will create health complexities for both of the mother and child. Deficient in Vitamin D, pregnant women are likely to have a great risk of developing preeclampsia and therefore need to have a cesarean delivery. The gestational diabetes mellitus and the bacterial vaginosis are also the reason of lower level of vitamin D in pregnant women. High level of vitamin D at the time of pregnancy also increases the food allergy of the child for the first two years of life. Other than these an adequate amount of vitamin D in your body will protect you from several cardiovascular diseases like autism, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, swine flu, Alzheimer’s disease etc according to some studies.