All About Vitamin D

 

Vitamin D also known as sunshine vitamin is mainly absorbed through sun. It’s main function in to maintain the balance between calcium and phosphorus in blood thereby taking care of the strength of bones. It gives strength to our bones. Apart from sun it has many dietary sources like eggs, fish, milk, cod liver oil etc. Two active form of Vitamin D are cholecalciferol (D2) and ergocalciferol (D3). The difference between the two forms is that former is synthesized by plants while later is synthesized by the skin when it comes in contact with sunlight.

                                                                                                                                                                                         

Sources of vitamin D

 

The sources from where we can extract vitamin D are:

 

Animal Sources and Milk Products: Pure cod liver oil, cooked salmon fish, tuna fish, sardines, low fat milk, egg (egg yolk is richly supplied with vitamin D), cooked liver, beef and cheese.

 

 

Sunlight: Getting your skin exposed to sunlight is the best source of vitamin D3. It provided much greater amounts of vitamin D than food does. But excess of sun exposure is also bad. So, exposing your skin to sun twice per week is more than sufficient.

 

Cereals: You can substitute vitamin D supplements with cereals. They provide much more vitamin D than supplements.

 

Mushrooms: Though mushrooms are richly supplied with vitamin D but it varies upon its variety. Shiitake mushrooms have 45 IU of vitamin D while white mushrooms have only 5 IU of vitamin D.

 

Recommended Dietary Intake of Vitamin D

 

Though vitamin D is essential for normal bone growth but in what amounts? As excess of everything is bad so in the under consumption. Here is the RDA for vitamin D depending upon the age:

 

 

0 to 6 months – 1000 IU

 Six months to 1 year – 1500 IU

1 to 3 years – 2500 IU

4 to 8 years – 3000 IU

Till 71 years- 4000 IU (pregnant and lactating mothers also require this much amount of vitamin D)

 

Benefits of Vitamin D

 

1. Calcium Phosphorus Levels: Vitamin D helps maintain the calcium and phosphorus levels in the body. This balance is useful for the health of bones.

 

2. Multiple Sclerosis: It has been seen that people residing near to tropical region are much less prone to this disease. Reason being enough sunlight or sun’s exposure in that region.

 

3. Vitamin D is effective in normal functioning of the brain.

 

4. It is useful to treat cases with rheumatoid arthritis.

 

5. Cancer Treatment: In patients with cancer, deficiency of vitamin D is quite common as compared to their non cancerous counterparts.

 

6. Weight Loss: Good news for all those who want to lose weight. Vitamin D along with calcium helps in losing weight.

 

7. Helpful in Asthma: Vitamin D supplements in cold are quite effective in seasonal asthmatic attacks

 

8. Healthy Teeth: Vitamin D helps in maintaining healthy, carious free teeth.

 

Side Effects Associated with Vitamin D

 

If taken in recommended amount Vitamin D is safe but in excess (usually more than 4000 IU) it can lead to side effects like fatigue, Xerostomia or dry mouth, metallic taste in mouth, headache and weakness.

 

Above 4000 IU, it can increase the body calcium levels thereby resulting in hardening of arteries termed as atherosclerosis.

 

Excess of vitamin D can also cause over functioning of parathyroid gland (hyperparathyroidism).

 

Deficiency of Vitamin D

 

Deficiency of vitamin D has a direct effect on our bones and can lead to rickets and osteomalacia.

 

The difference between two is that rickets is exclusively found in children where as osteomalacia is restricted to adults. Both lead to muscle weakness, fragile bone making them prone to fractures.

 

People who are living in areas with limited sunlight, obese individuals or those suffering from cystic fibrosis or inflammatory bowel disease are more prone to vitamin D deficiency.



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