Many a times, a myriad of symptoms including body aches, fatigue, depressive feelings, mood swings, frequent sneezing, & cough go unnoticed and immunity too becomes low – as a result, you may develop many health issues. Have you ever wondered why such symptoms develop? There may be several reasons, but you cannot ignore the deficiency of vitamin D: the sunshine vitamin. You are well aware of the fact, in fact since your childhood days, that vitamin D deficiency causes Rickets in children, but you have least understanding of the symptoms & diseases that develop in adults due to vitamin D deficiency. Let us learn more about the vital nutritional tool of our body.
What is Vitamin D? Why is it so important to get enough Vitamin D?
Vitamin D [Vit-D3 (cholecalciferol)] – a unique fat soluble vitamin (steroid hormone) is produced when your body is exposed to the sun light or ultraviolet light. It is transported to liver and kidneys where it is further converted to active 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol). As a hormone, it controls phosphorus, calcium, and bone metabolism and neuromuscular function.
The health benefits of Vitamin D
- Promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus
- Helps deposit calcium & phosphorus in bones and teeth to keep them strong and avoid the risk of fractures
- Regulates cells growth in the body
- Interacts with parathyroid hormone (PTH) in the homeostasis of blood calcium concentrations
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Helps ease fibromyalgia pain and slow the progression of multiple sclerosis
- Prevents auto immune diseases, like multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease
- Regulates cell growth and improves immunity
What if you don’t consume enough Vit-D?
Vitamin D deficiency in adults may lead to Osteomalacia (softening of the bones). Calcium (Ca) levels increase in the blood due to the release of calcium from the bones as a result of high PTH levels. Increased levels of Ca in the blood and Ca excretion in the urine cause kidney stones. High calcium levels also cause heart disease, difficulty in concentration and high blood pressure.
What are the reasons for Vitamin D deficiency?
Dark skin (with high melanin) acts like a barrier to UV rays absorption due to high melanin content. Therefore, dark skin people need more sun exposure than those with light skin for the synthesis of sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Obese people (high muscle mass) & those who are 50 years & above make less vitamin D and kidney disease may also hinders the conversion of vitamin D into its active form. The other reasons for vitamin D deficiency include application of sunscreens and spending more time indoors.
Apart from the lack of sunlight and food deficiency, vitamin D deficiency may occur due to some health issues like cystic fibrosis, celiac and Crohn diseases, and drug interactions. The deficiency may also occur due to increased catabolism caused by anticonvulsant and antiretroviral treatment and some immunosuppressant drugs, and due to hepatic and renal failure as well.
Your body synthesizes vitamin D after being exposed to sunlight for nearly about 10 – 20 minutes for at least twice or thrice a week. The amount of vitamin D in food is very less. However, the dietary sources include egg, milk, cheese, butter, and fishes like salmon, tuna and mackerel. Foods and Dietary supplements provide Vitamin D in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol) both increase vitamin D in your blood stream.
How much is enough?
Even though vitamin D is beneficial for health, excess consumption of vitamin D is not advisable because it may cause loss of appetite, weight loss and nausea. Sometimes vitamin D in excess proves toxic to the body and may lead to heart disease and kidney stones. An overdose usAre you getting enough Sunshine Vitamin: Vitamin D?ually comes from dietary supplements; therefore, consult your physician before you start taking Vit D supplements.
In a nutshell, vitamin D is the vital nutritional tool for your body as it reduces the risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, kidney diseases and osteoporosis (thinning of bones) in both men and women. It improves overall metabolism. To know whether your vitamin D levels are in the healthy range or not, it would be better to test Vitamin D levels once or twice in a year. By maintaining optimum levels of Vitamin-D, you can prevent many health problems and achieve overall well being.