The importance of Vitamin D in your everyday life

11 Feb
2015
By Amelia Smith

When the scorching summer sun shines upon you, it is time you bask in its warmth. Since school days, you may have heard of your science teacher narrating the importance of vitamins and minerals especially, vitamin D. It was discovered back in 1900’s and has been regarded as one of the essential nutrients to sustain good health. It helps develop strong bones and is beneficial for the skin. This is something that people have learned during their growing up years.

But the union of science and technology has made known the different facets of this powerful vitamin that not many were aware of until date. So, what is the significance of this nutrient? What could be the possible ill-effects that one could face if there is a lack of vitamin D in the bones? Read further to find out the different sources of vitamin D and its vital role in balancing the nutrient cycle.

  • The benefits of vitamin D:

The importance of vitamin D has been promoted by all doctors across the world. It is required for maintaining the regulation of calcium and phosphorous in the body. This is needed in order to maintain a healthy bone structure. It is used for treating complex types of bone diseases. It helps avert rickets (vitamin D deficiency) and hyperparathyroidism (a kind of bone loss condition). It treats osteoporosis (weak bones), osteomalacia (bone pain), osteogenesis imperfect (an inherited disease). Its powerful effect also prevents falls and fractures for those who are at a tremendous risk of osteoporosis. It avoids people from facing renal osteodystrophy (low calcium and quick bone loss), for those suffering from kidney failure.

It builds muscle strength and supports a healthy immune system. It helps fight tuberculosis, infections in the lungs, and autoimmune diseases such as asthma.  Other than bone health, it protects against cardiovascular illnesses, improves blood pressure, works against depression, and improves cognition. It even helps reduce the risk of cancer, dementia as well as decreases the mortality rate. It stabilizes the flow of blood in the heart and blood vessels. Vitamin D also plays a significant role to treat health disorders such as high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The vitamin is included in the treatment of health illnesses like premenstrual syndrome (PMS), multiple sclerosis, bronchitis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and tooth and gum disease. Some people even use it to solve skin problems including scleroderma, vitiligo, psoriasis, lupus vulgaris, and actinic keratosis.

Also Read: Amazing health benefits of Beetroot

  • Types of vitamin D:

The sources of vitamin D are available in various forms. Even in the vitamin itself there are several sub-classifications: Vitamin D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5. If you love eating meat then, the D3 form will be readily available as it occurs in foods of animal origin. Since it is in its simplest form, the body utilizes it promptly to carry out its functions. D2 is attained in nutritional supplements and tablets.

  • Sources of vitamin D

You may have seen people sunbathing and enjoying the daylight sunshine. The importance of vitamin D has held its prevalence because it made by your respective body. But the only trick here is that you would require exposure to sufficient sunlight. Your face, arms, and hands would require around 15 minutes of exposure without the application of sunscreen. Also, people who tend to be dark skinned won’t be able to produce as much vitamin D as compared to those who are light-skinned.  This is because dark complexion skin tends to absorb less sunlight. This happens to be a little problematic for those living in the American-African regions of the northern U.S.A. In fact, in the U.S., it is hard to receive adequate vitamin D from the sun during wintertime. One reason for this is because the sun never rises high enough for its UV rays to penetrate the atmosphere. Regions like Los Angeles and Columbia get enough sunlight for producing vitamin D throughout the year. One detail that people need to remember is that the exposure varies as per age, skin type, season, and time of the day.

  • The foods that act as a source of vitamin D:

When there isn’t enough sunlight to supply you with vitamin D, there are food substances and other supplements that are rich in this particular nutrient. Foods that offer a boost of vitamin D are: fishes such as herring, sardines, swordfish, salmon, oysters, tuna, and mackerel. Besides that, dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt also do the needful. You can opt for cereals, orange juice, eggs, tofu, soy milk, and mushrooms. These are considered to be full of vitamin D. As per research; 80-90% of vitamin D that the body produces is obtained through exposure to sunlight. The rest is received through these food sources.

Also Read: Eat green and be healthy

  • Use of supplements:

Fortunately and astonishingly, Vitamin D can be restored by sunlight. A study conducted revealed that 6 days of normal sunlight exposure without sunscreen could cover up for 49 days of no exposure. After consuming vitamin D rich foods, the body still needs to reproduce the nutrient with the nourishment of sunlight.  Hence, body fats preserve the vitamin inside the fats and let the body utilize them, during days when there is no appearance of light. While using supplements, consume them as per your doctor’s prescription. Take them along with the biggest meal of the day, so that the body can quickly absorb it into its system. Make sure you stock it away from moisture and heat, to avoid it from reacting or creating side-effects. Strive as much as possible to take it along with foods that are not high in fiber (such as bran or cereal).

  • Risk of vitamin D deficiency:

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) announced that most Americans suffer from lack of vitamin D that has caused health disorders and life-threatening diseases. Older people are normally at risk of vitamin D deficiency. This is because they spend less time outdoors and have a lesser capability of converting sunlight into vitamin D. They may also face trouble absorbing the nutrient in their diet due to their weak kidneys. But, other than this, even young people can be striven of vitamin D if: they wear too much of sunscreen on a daily basis, are dark complexioned, exposed to just 10 minutes of sunlight twice a week, and are obese. In some cases, people who live in geographic locations where there are long winter seasons, excessive air pollution, and are restricted to indoor activities can face the wrath.

It is time people consider paying attention towards their fitness and not take it granted. The lack of a simple vitamin can cause a drastic imbalance in health. So, focus on the importance of vitamin D and make it a point to instill it in your diet. Walk outdoors and enjoy the morning sun to receive a sufficient quantity of sunlight that acts as a source of vitamin D. Stay fit and live longer.

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Amelia Smith

Nutritionist, herbalist, health and medicine writer and yoga enthusiast, Amelia Smith, is a professional in the health, nutrition and diet industry.

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