What Are The Three Benefits Of Vitamin D?
- Protection against infections and diseases.
- Prevents depression
- Enhances weight loss
Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and includes a family of compounds namely D1, D2, and D3. Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin since the body produces vitamin D from cholesterol when the skin is exposed to the sun.Vitamin D requirements can also be fulfilled through certain foods and supplements.
Although vitamin D has many important functions, its influence in regulating the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and normal immune function are the most crucial.Vitamin D is also important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth.
Bone abnormalities like osteomalacia and osteoporosis are usually a manifestation of vitamin D deficiency.
Here are some of the lesser known benefits of vitamin D:
Protection Against Diseases
Vitamin D may also play a role in reducing risk for the following diseases:
Reduces Symptoms Of Depression
According to the results of a study conducted in a group of individuals with depression, intake of vitamin D supplements improved their symptoms. Research has shown that vitamin D influences mood regulation and prevents symptoms related to depression.
In addition, researchers studying a group of people with fibromyalgia, found that vitamin D deficiency was common among those experiencing anxiety and depression.
Vitamin D Enhances Weight Loss
Studies have established that people who regularly intake calcium and vitamin D supplements lose weight more easily than their placebo counterparts. This is because extra calcium and vitamin D suppress the appetite. Individuals who are trying to lose weight are usually encouraged to start taking vitamin D supplements.
Another study showed that obese individuals who took vitamin D supplements on a daily basis improved their heart disease markers.
Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency
Getting adequate exposure to sunlight is an easy way to fulfill daily vitamin D requirements. It is advisable to keep an eye out for factors which influence the ability to get sufficient vitamin D from sunlight.
- Living in an area with high pollution
- Excessive use of sunscreen
- Being indoors all the time
- Having a dark skin tone
Hence it is important to be aware of sources of vitamin D other than sunlight. Some of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are listed below:
- Frequent tiredness and fatigue
- Severe bone, muscle pain or weakness
- Propensity to fractures in the legs, pelvis and hips
Vitamin D deficiency can be diagnosed by a blood test. Physicians may recommend an X-ray scan to check bone strength if the blood vitamin D levels are low. Vitamin D supplements are recommended for low blood vitamin D levels. For severe vitamin D deficiency, high dose vitamin D tablets or liquids are usually prescribed.
Sources of Vitamin D Rich Food
There are very few good sources of vitamin D rich foods. For this reason some foods are fortified with vitamin D. Some of the vitamin D rich food sources are:
- egg yolk
- milk (fortified)
- cereal (fortified)
- yogurt (fortified)
- orange juice (fortified)
Since getting vitamin D through natural sources is a challenge, it is a good idea to consider taking them as supplements.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
There are many disagreements with regard to the optimal vitamin D requirements for healthy functioning of the human body. The normal blood serum levels of vitamin D range between 50 to 100 mg per decilitre. However this varies depending on the actual blood levels.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have put forth a new set of recommendations based on international units (IUs) per day.
IUs help to decide the recommended dose, toxicity, and deficiency levels for each individual. One IU differs for each type of vitamin and depends on how much of the chemical is required to produce an effect in the body. The recommended IUs for vitamin D are listed below:
- children and teens: 600 IU
- adults up to age 70: 600 IU
- adults over age 70: 800 IU
- pregnant or breastfeeding women: 600 IU