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Vitamin D is a reliable source of calcium and phosphorus in the body. From supporting the immune system to regulating insulin levels, vitamin D benefits are not just countless but equally essential. The National Institute of Health also states that the most important use of vitamin D is that it enables normal mineralization of bone to prevent rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
What Is Vitamin D?
The sunshine vitamin a.k.a. vitamin D is a pro-hormone produced by the body as a response to sun exposure. It is one of the 24 micronutrients that are critical for human survival. You can find vitamin D naturally in fish, egg and dairy products.
Benefits Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is associated with a wide range of benefits including increased cognition, better immune system, bone health and overall well-being in general. Intake of sufficient vitamin D might also reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, heart attacks, diabetes and more. Let’s scroll through some of its most important benefits below:
Benefits Of Vitamin D For Health
1. Stimulates Healthy Bones
Calcium and phosphorus are essential in maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin D helps absorb these nutrients, thereby promoting the health of your body. A study by Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health also quotes that the intake of vitamin D improves muscle strength and helps to heal fractures.
2. Reduces The Risk Of Flu
Vitamin D impacts the immune system to fight viral infections and suppress inflammatory processes. A meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials held in 2013 under the journal, PLos One, revealed that those who consume sufficient amounts of vitamin D are at a lower risk of developing upper respiratory infections.
3. Prevents Heart Failures
Low vitamin D levels can lead to cardiovascular diseases, making it an important therapeutic target. According to an article published by Brinkley DM under Curr Heart Fail Rep. 2017, vitamin D can influence the functioning of the heart to prevent and treat chronic heart failures.
4. Reduces Cavities
It is noted that there is a vital link between vitamin D and dental caries. It is quoted under the research, Antimicrobial Implications of Vitamin D that those who are adequately packed with vitamin D can resist bacteria by absorbing calcium and phosphate that strengthen teeth.
5. Lowers Diabetes
Insufficient vitamin D negatively affects the insulin secretion and glucose tolerance resulting in the risk of diabetes. According to a study published in the journal of The North American Menopause Society, the impact of vitamin D and calcium on glycemin helps control type 2 diabetes in patients across the globe.
6. Might Prevent The Risk Of Cancer
Even though this use of vitamin D use is a one to debate over, many believe it to be true. Vitamin D is essentially important to regulate cell growth and communication. Analysis of the Anticancer Research by Friedrich M. shows that vitamin D might help reduce the risk of cancer by slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissues, increasing cancer cell death and reducing cell proliferation and metastases.
Benefits Of Vitamin D For Skin
1. May Prevent Skin Cancer
Ultraviolent B radiation can cause DNA damage in the skin resulting in cancer risks. Studies like J Am Acad Dermato 2012 and Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2013 suggest that vitamin D acts as a protective shield against cancer and cancer-associated mortality.
2. Treats Acne And Rosacea
Acne vulgaris and rosacea are the most common skin disorders amongst people worldwide. According to the Indian J. Dermatol 2013, vitamin D analogs have shown effective results in treating acne and rosacea.
3. Slows Skin Aging
Vitamin D targets skin tissues to regulate ageing. It is stated under Med J. Aust. 2018 that optimal concentrations of vitamin D can delay the ageing process.
4. Protects The Skin From DNA Damage
Vitamin D protects the skin cells from DNA damage and increases the survival of cells to ensure healthy skin. An article by the Oregon State University states that vitamin D holds photoprotective effects that can reduce or protect the skin from cell damage.
Benefits Of Vitamin D For Hair
1. Supports Hair Growth
Adequate intake of vitamin D evidently improves the thickness of hair by stimulating hair follicles. A study in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine states that vitamin D revives and creates hair follicles to improve hair growth.
Deficiency Of Vitamin D
The deficiency of vitamin D in children can cause a disease called rickets that is characterized by severe bowlegged appearance due to softening of the bones. In elders, the same deficiency can cause osteomalacia or osteoporosis, which results in poor bone density and muscular weakness. It is estimated under N Engl J Med. that 1 billion people have inadequate levels of vitamin D worldwide.
Lack of vitamin D can also result in increased levels of testosterone, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, autism, asthma and other such conditions.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are as follows:
- Getting sick or infected often
- Pain in the bones and muscles
- Mood swings
- Impaired wound healing
- Hair loss
Risks & Precautions When Consuming Vitamin D
Even though the intake of vitamin D is likely to be safe for most people, some may experience side effects with excessive intake of Vitamin D supplements. Some of them are stated as follows:
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Metallic taste
- Nausea and vomiting
If these side effects start to show, do not wait for it to get severe and immediately consult a doctor.
Precautions And Warnings When Consuming Vitamin D:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume vitamin D in units more than 4000 unless instructed by a healthcare practitioner.
- Taking vitamin D in excess can worsen atherosclerosis, a condition that hardens arteries.
- Vitamin D may increase calcium levels in people suffering from histoplasmosis. This can lead to kidney stones and other problems.
- People suffering from hyperparathyroidism, lymphoma, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis and kidney diseases should be careful with the intake of vitamin D.
How To Consume Vitamin D?
The body can synthesize vitamin D when exposed to the sun. A sensible amount of sun exposure is for about 5-10 minutes on bare skin, 2-3 times a week.
Vitamin D is found naturally in food products like fish, egg, dairy and more. You may cook your food in cod liver oil to build immunity or opt for a salmon salad for the same. Other examples of vitamin D rich food are mushrooms, orange juice, fortified cereals, and cow milk, shrimp, oyster or cheddar cheese. These can be incorporated cooked or raw in your daily diets.
In case of severe deficiencies, vitamin D can also be taken in the form of supplements. One must not consume more than 4000 units of vitamin D per day according to the National Institutes of Health.
Some Fun Facts About Vitamin D
- Vitamin D is not regarded as a typical nutrient since nutrients cannot be synthesized by the body and need to be taken from external sources.
- Kerley’s shadow rule states that if your shadow is shorter than your body then you can be making vitamin D. If the shadow is longer than your body then you’re probably not making vitamin D no matter how sunny it is.
- According to a study by Down To Earth, 70% of the rural population in India is deficient in sunlight vitamin.
- Mushrooms are one of the few natural plant-based sources of vitamin D.
- Sunscreen can block 98% of vitamin D intake from sun exposure.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps maintain balance in your body. It can be synthesized in the skin upon the exposure of ultraviolet-B radiation from sunlight. When this exposure is insufficient, adequate vitamin D can be compensated through a healthy diet and supplements. Intake of vitamin D keeps your bones, teeth, and muscles healthy while regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate.