September 3, 2022

The Basics Of Vitamin D

The Basics Of Vitamin D
Quick Links

The human body derives vitamin D by making it and from the food we eat. When our skin gets exposed to the sun, it creates a steroid hormone from cholesterol, which is known as vitamin D. Since our exposure to the sun is rare on most days, we mainly get the vitamin from our diet. Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, the deficiency of this vitamin is widespread. Read on to understand vitamin D, its benefits, and its uses. 

What Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin critical for the functioning of the body. Vitamin D easily dissolves in oils as well as fats, and it gets stored in the body. 

Mainly, there are two types of vitamin D - vitamin D3 and D2. Cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3, is present in fatty fish, egg yolks, and other animal food items. On the other hand, ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2 comes from plant sources like mushrooms and yeasts. 

When it comes to boosting the vitamin D content in the body, D3 is more beneficial. Moreover, very few foods contain vitamin D naturally. 

Role Of Vitamin D In The Body

Vitamin D has two conversion steps that make it active. First, it takes the form of calcidiol in the liver and gets stored there. Next, it converts into calcitriol which is usually in the kidneys. This form is an active steroid hormone of vitamin D. 

Calcitriol now comes in contact with the vitamin D receptor in every body cell. After the receptor binds to the active form of the vitamin, it may turn the genes on or off. Also, this can lead to several changes in the cells. Imagine how a steroid hormone works; that is precisely how this vitamin functions. 

Additionally, vitamin D is vital for bone health. Promoting calcium and phosphorus from the gut is essential for this vitamin. Recent studies show that it is beneficial in other health aspects as well. 

Sources Of Vitamin D

We can get vitamin D from both natural sources and food sources.

Natural Source Of Vitamin D

The exposure of skin to the sun produces vitamin D. When the cholesterol in the skin comes in contact with the ultraviolet (UV) rays, it creates this vitamin. For people living in areas where sunshine is available most days, sunbathing for an adequate amount of time might help them get vitamin D. Exposing your hands and face may create very little or no vitamin. Staying behind glass or using sunscreen produces less vitamin D

While sunshine is healthy in some aspects, it can also cause sunburn and skin cancer. Premature skin aging is another common issue that comes with extreme sun contact. Therefore, if you are in the sun for an extended period, never skip sunscreen. Apply the product for at least ten minutes before you step out of the house. 

Remember that vitamin D is present in the body for a few weeks or even months. That is why occasional sunshine might do the job for you. To keep the blood levels in check, get your sun exposure once a week. 

For the people who live in colder regions where sunshine is not a usual sight to witness, do not worry. You can get a sufficient amount of vitamin D from your food or via supplements. 

Food Sources 

Food like fatty fish produces vitamin D in the body. Salmon, trout, swordfish, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are food items that you can consume daily to get sufficient vitamins. Dairy products, cereal, rare mushrooms, and egg yolks also have adequate quantities of this vitamin. 

If we talk about the best source of vitamin D, it has to be fish liver oil. For instance, cod liver oil contains twice the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) in just one tablespoon. 

Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency 

The deficiency of vitamin D is common in people across the world. While many people have this deficiency, some have more severe symptoms than others. Also, older adults are more likely to experience this type of deficiency. 

People with diseases, too, are at a higher risk of encountering the deficiency. A study reveals that people who suffered from heart attacks had lower vitamin D levels. Moreover, the symptoms of this deficiency prolong and sometimes take years to surface. 

Rickets is a common symptom of a shortage of vitamin D. This bone disease usually occurs in children in developing nations. Furthermore, rickets is not widespread in western countries because of the consumption of foods that are super rich in vitamin D. 

More significant risks of falling, fractures, low mineral density, and osteoporosis are all linked with this deficiency. Lack of vitamin D may also lead to type 1 and 2 diabetes, heart diseases, dementia, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.

Not only this, but vitamin D deficiency may shorten a person’s lifespan. It is not evident whether low vitamin D levels cause diseases or whether it is the other way around. 

Potential Health Benefits 

  1. Reduces fractures - An adequate amount of vitamin D in the body helps reduce osteoporosis, which helps prevent falls and fractures in older adults.
  2. Improves strength - Vitamin D can increase the overall strength of the body. It improves potency in the upper and lower limbs.
  3. May prevent cancer - Studies demonstrate that this vitamin may help reduce cancer risk. For example, consuming 1100 IU and calcium can prevent cancer by 60%.
  4. Depression - Managing depression is also possible with vitamin D. People with clinical depression can ease their symptoms with the help of high quantities of this vitamin.
  5. Reduced risk of diabetes - Vitamin D links to diabetes as well and may help in reducing it. For example, a study of infants reveals that consuming 2000 IU of vitamin D can lower the chances of type 1 diabetes by 78%. 
  6. Mortality Rate - Several studies note that vitamin D can make a person live longer. In addition, it reduces the risk of dying as the vitamin is a cure for many diseases. 

Consumption Of Vitamin D 

If you wish to check the vitamin D levels in your body, you need to get your blood levels measured. It is the only way of knowing whether you are deficient or not. 

In the reports, if the calcifediol is under 12 ng/ml, you have deficient vitamin D levels. Above 20 ng/ml means that your vitamin D levels are adequate. Children and adults need 600 IU of vitamin D, and senior citizens need 800 IU. Several health experts state that blood levels above 30ng/ml are ideal for disease prevention.

Considering Other Nutrients 

Most people believe that vitamins work in isolation, but this is not the case. Nutrients depend on each other, and if you increase the intake of a particular nutrient, you may also need to increase the others. 

For example, research reveals that fat-soluble vitamins work together. Optimizing your vitamin A and vitamin K needs also becomes important when you increase vitamin D3 intake. Magnesium is a vital nutrient, too, which boosts the working of vitamin D. 

Vitamin D Toxicity

From the sun and food items to vitamin D capsules, there are several sources for gaining an adequate amount of the vitamin. Regular intake of the vitamin has no side effects.

However, consuming considerable quantities for a prolonged period may lead to issues like nausea, drowsiness, lack of concentration and confusion, depression, abdominal pain, constipation, and dangerous blood pressure levels. Although the toxicity of this vitamin is almost nonexistent, you can still be careful.

Take Away 

Vitamin D is essential for the body. To increase your consumption, consult your doctor and discuss your medical conditions. It is easy to add this vitamin to your diet. While the sun is a great source, you can still rely on your diet to reach sufficient vitamin D levels.

Share this article

Livest Health's assurance

crossmenuchevron-down-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram