Vitamin D is an essential dietary supplement. It is a pre-hormone produced in the body as a reaction to sun exposure (UV- ultraviolet rays). Vitamin D is generally referred to as “Calciferol” and exists naturally in some foods.
SOURCES of Vitamin D
The main source of vitamin D is direct exposure to a sufficient amount of sunlight. It has to be direct because ultraviolet rays cannot penetrate through your window. Other sources of vitamin D can be food sources such as;
- Whole grain cereals
- Beef liver
- Dairy products; milk and cheese
- Egg yolks
- Fish such as mackerel, tuna, or salmon.
Vitamin D may be used to treat osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and hypoparathyroidism. Other benefits include;
- Boosting the immune system; Vitamin D boosts your immune system by triggering antimicrobial bodies which fight off invading microbes, therefore protecting the body from threatening conditions to the health.
- Strengthening the bones and teeth; vitamin D supports calcium regulation and balance phosphorus levels in the body. The nutrient also supports the ability of the body systems to absorb these nutrients where needed. A vitamin D deficiency known as osteomalacia is a condition in which the bones are softened and are poor in density, including weak muscle. The body systems need to be able to absorb nutrients like calcium and utilize them properly.
- Supporting the functions of the central nervous system; the brain requires a number of various nutrients to regulate development and function properly.
- Maintaining healthy insulin levels; vitamin D is essential for regulating and balancing insulin levels in the body.
- Maintaining cardiovascular health; sufficient amounts of vitamin D regulates blood pressure, heart functions, also muscle cell development and functions.
- Supporting the functions of the respiratory system; vitamin D has a key role in respiratory health because of its contribution to lung development and muscle strength.
- Aids diabetes management.
- Reduces your chances of flu infections; according to research, it has been found that vitamin D has protective characteristics against the flu virus and its risks.
This is a situation where the body lacks sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Factors that can cause vitamin D deficiencies to include;
CAUSES of Vitamin D deficiency
- Sunscreen; sunscreen lotions or products for skin including a sun protection factor that is “SPF” of about 30 can restrict the body from carrying out the processes involved with the vitamin.
- Skin type; Dark skin, supposedly combined with sunscreen will be harder for the body to absorb the ultraviolet radiation rays from the sun restricting the skin from producing vitamin D.
- Geographical location; this factor relates to people who live along northern latitudes, highly polluted areas, or people who work night shifts or basically do not leave the house.
- Covering almost every percentage of your skin with clothing also reduces vitamin D production.
The best ways to obtain vitamins or minerals are through natural sources or dietary supplements. A sufficient amount of sun exposure (if you can) on bare skin can be obtained from 5-10 minutes repeated up to 2-3 times weekly under direct sunlight.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency
- Loss of hair
- Aching muscles
- Delayed wound healing
- Joint aches
- Regular illness
- Mood swings
- Recurring infections
Some severe conditions due to prolonged Vitamin D deficiency include;
- Prostate cancer
- Respiratory related conditions
- Heart diseases
- Lowered immunity
- Conditions involving the brain and other aspects of the nervous systems
- Diabetes, etc.
EFFECTS of excessive vitamin D
An excessive intake or production of vitamin D, through food, supplements, or sunlight exposure can cause your blood vessels, kidney, lungs, and heart to solidify or harden. Although it is mostly from supplement abuse or too much time under the sun.
The most common signs of excessive vitamin D in your body system include;
- Frequent thirst
- Dry mouth or throat
- Loss of appetite
It is important to note that increasing your Vitamin D levels through exposure to the sun can have consequences over your lifetime. The suggested time for sun exposure should not be taken for granted as the added risk is not worth it.
Your diet and eating lifestyle are also important in preventing diseases and maintaining good health. Your diet should include a variety of nutrients rather than a concentrate of just one nutrient.