- Promote Healthy Bones and Teeth
- Support Your Immune System, Brain and Nervous System’s Health
- Regulate Your Insulin Level and Support Diabetes Management
- Support Your Lung Function and Cardiovascular Health
Vitamin D is quite different when compared to many other vitamins. It is a hormone produced from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to the sun. This is why you might know it as the sun vitamin.
Now, sun exposure rarely provides the adequate amount of vitamin D our bodies require, and as such, we need to implement it in our diet through supplements.
In fact, vitamin D can reflect different factors of your life, including where you live, your age, your skin color, weight, foods that you eat, and health conditions.
So now you may be wondering, what exactly is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D: An In-Depth Explanation
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and this means that it can dissolve in fats and oils and be stored in your body for prolonged periods.
There are two main dietary forms of Vitamin D: Vitamin D3 which is found in some animal foods, such as fish and egg yolks, and Vitamin D2 which is found in some plants mushrooms.
Vitamin D3 is twice as effective at increasing blood levels of vitamin D when compared to D2.
Vitamin D has to undergo two conversion steps in order to become active. It needs to convert to calcidiol, or 25(OH)D, in your liver. This is the storage form of the vitamin. Then it is converted to calcitriol, or 1,25(OH)2D, and this is done in your kidneys. This is the active hormone form of Vitamin D. Calcitriol interacts with the vitamin D receptor known as VDR found in every cell of our bodies.
When Vitamin D binds with this receptor, it turns the genes on or off, leading to changes in your cells as a result.
Vitamin D affects various cells related to bone health and promotes calcium and phosphorus absorption from your gut. It also helps with immune system function and protects against diseases.
How Sunshine Helps You Get Vitamin D
Vitamin D is produced from cholesterol in your skin when it’s exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun. If you live in a region of the world where sunshine is present all the time, you will get all of the vitamin D you need just by being in the sun a few times per week.
However, a large part of your body needs to be exposed to it, and if you are only exposing your head and your hands, you will produce less vitamin D.
When vitamin D gets stored in your body for weeks or months at a time, you might only need occasional sunshine to keep the blood level adequate. However, if you live in an area where you do not have an exposure to sunlight as much, getting vitamin D from foods or supplements is essential, and this is especially the case in winter.
Best Food Sources for Vitamin D
Fish such as salmon, mackerel, swordfish, trout, tuna, and sardines are good sources; you will need to eat almost every single day in order to get enough of it from them. The only excellent dietary source of vitamin D is fish liver oil, which can contain upwards of two times the reference daily intake in a single tablespoon. Egg yolks and some mushrooms also contain smaller amounts of vitamin D.
Potential Health Benefits of Vitamin D
By having adequate vitamin D in your body, you will see benefits such as reduced risks of osteoporosis, falls, fractures, better strength, disease prevention, depression management, reduced risk of diabetes, and improved mortality rate.
1. Vitamin D Can Fight Disease
Vitamin D can reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis, decrease your chances of developing heart disease, and even help you reduce the likelihood of developing the flu.
These are excellent health benefits that anyone should look into.
2. Vitamin D Can Reduce Depression
Our mental state is more important than ever, and it can actively impact on how we live everyday life as well as have an impact on our health.
Vitamin D plays a role in regulating mood and warding off depression.
3. Vitamin D Boosts Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight, or even prevent heart disease, you will find that vitamin D supplementation can help you a lot.
People who take daily calcium and vitamin D are able to lose more weight than people who did not.
4. Vitamin D Helps You Have Healthy Bones
Vitamin D can play a significant role in the regulation of calcium as well as maintenance of phosphorus levels of the blood, which are factors that play a role in maintaining healthy bones.
A lot of people will need vitamin D to allow the intestines to stimulate as well as absorb calcium and reclaim calcium that the kidneys would excrete.
5. Vitamin D Makes Infants Healthy
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to high blood pressure in children.
As such, eggs are a common early source of vitamin D, and the children who start eating eggs after 6 months are more likely to develop food allergies than children who start eating eggs at 4 months of age.
6. Vitamin D Helps in Pregnancy
Taking Vitamin D during pregnancy can improve maternal vitamin D status and may reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, low birth weight, and preterm birth.
Poor Vitamin D can lead to gestational diabetes and even bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women. This is why it is important for women to take Vitamin D during pregnancy.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Take?
The best way to know if you are vitamin D deficient is you have your blood levels measured. Your healthcare provider has to measure the storage form of vitamin D that is known as calcifedol. Anything under 12 ng/ml is deficient, and anything above 20 ng/ml is adequate.
The recommended daily intake is 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children and adults, and 800 IU for older adults as well as pregnant women.
What Happens When You Take Too Much Vitamin D
It’s not that easy to overdose on Vitamin D, and Vitamin D toxicity is rare. This can only happen if you take extremely high doses for extended periods of time.
The main symptoms include confusion, lack of concentration, drowsiness, abdominal pain, depression, high blood pressure, vomiting, and constipation.
Summing it All Up
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for the health of your bones.
For people who are low with this nutrient, increasing the intake can also reduce depression and improve your strength.
Your skin produces vitamin D when it exposed to sunlight, and foods like fish, fish oil, and liver also contain vitamin D. Some certain fortified foods and supplements do the same thing.
Deficiency is common due to the limited sunshine exposure to certain areas in the world as well as a small selection of rich dietary sources. If you are the kind of person who does not eat that much fish, you need to consider supplements to get the level of vitamin D your body actually requires.