Vitamin D facts: Learn Everything About the Sunshine Vitamin

Doctors, dieticians and experts keep telling us innumerable vitamin D facts because it plays a vital role in maintaining our health. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is responsible for maintaining normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in blood. Vitamin D is available in two forms – D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 can be found in plants, fungi and fortified foods, whereas vitamin D3 is synthesized by our skin when exposed to UV rays in sunlight.


Though it is linked with every facet of our health, we tend to underrate its importance. That’s perhaps because it is available free of cost.


What are the Benefits of Vitamin D?


Vitamin D keeps our bones healthy by absorbing and regulating calcium levels in blood. It boosts our immunity and protects against infectious diseases including TB, cold, flu, pneumonia. Our nerves need it for the transmission of messages between brain and different parts of the body. Vitamin D is a major inhibitor of auto-immune disorders, heart diseases, diabetes, depression, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.


According to a study conducted on over 3000 European people between 40 and 79 years of age, vitamin D helps in keeping the brain work well in later stage of life.


Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms


Vitamin D deficiency is a result of inadequate exposure to the sun and insufficient consumption of vitamin D fortified foods. Its deficiency symptoms vary depending upon the individual and levels of deficiency.


Most prevalent vitamin D deficiency symptoms are rickets (in children) and osteoporosis (in adults), both are the bone deformalities caused by low level of vitamin D.


Research has linked low levels of vitamin D with depression. During winter, a large number of people suffer from seasonal affective disorder caused by insufficient exposure to the sun.


Our body fat is regulated by a hormone called leptin, which is totally under the control of vitamin D. Insufficient vitamin D in the body affects production of leptin causing people to eat more than what is necessary.


Other deadly vitamin D deficiency symptoms include cancer, diabetes, hypertension and multiple sclerosis.


Can Vitamin D be Harmful to Your Health?


Yes, there is a high risk to your health associated with overdose of vitamin D. When the level in blood becomes too high, it causes nausea, vomiting, constipation and weakness. It can also cause mental abnormalities such as confusion and disorientation by raising the calcium levels in blood. Vitamin D toxicity induces the deposition of calcium in soft tissues of the body including lungs, heart, blood vessels and kidney, which severely impairs their ability to function properly.


Since our body puts a check on the amount of sunshine vitamin it produces, longer exposure to sunlight never causes vitamin D poisoning. In most of the cases it occurs due to overuse of supplements.


Sources of Vitamin D


We obtain vitamin D usually from three sources – foods, sunlight and supplements.


1- Vitamin D Foods


We have very few foods known that are rich in vitamin D. Consuming fatty fishes such as mackerel and salmon is the best option if you have to meet your daily needs through food. Traces of this vitamin are also found in beef liver, egg yolk and cheese.


2- Exposure to Sunlight


Most of us meet our daily requirement through this source. UV rays actuate the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin. If you expose the skin of your hands, legs and face for approximately 10-15 minutes twice a week, you would get the most of vitamin D required by your body. Exposure to sunlight through windows doesn’t induce vitamin D synthesis.


Though sunlight helps in vitamin D synthesis, it’s wise to limit the exposure in order to avoid the risk of skin cancer. If you are going out in the sun for more than 20 minutes, apply sunscreen and put protective clothing on.


3- Dietary Supplements


Are you sure you get sufficient exposure to sunlight? If not, try to include dietary food supplements in your food intake. Supplements and fortified foods contain vitamin D in two different forms: D2 and D3. Drinking one cup of vitamin D fortified milk daily provides 25% of vitamin D required by your body.


What’s the Link between Vitamin D and Breast Cancer?


Studies from around the world have demonstrated that women dying of breast cancer are the most vitamin D deficient. Scientists suggest that vitamin D influences anti-cancerous activities such as cell differentiation and programmed cell death in breast tumor tissues.


With the basic knowledge of vitamin D facts you can keep a watch whether you and your family members are getting the required amount of the sunshine vitamin.





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