The sunshine vitamin
Vitamin D is sometimes called the "sunshine vitamin " because it is produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It's a fat soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2 and D-3.
Your body naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight. You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.
Vitamin D has several important functions . Perhaps the most vital are the regulation of the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and facilitating from functioning normal of the immune system.
Getting enough vitamin D is important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth, and for better resistance to certain diseases.
If your body does not get enough vitamin D, you are at risk of developing bone abnormalities such as soft bones ( osteomalacia ) or brittle bones ( osteoporosis ).
Here are three more surprising vitamin D benefits .
1. Vitamin D fights disease
In addition to its main benefits, research suggests vitamin D may also play a role in:
- The risk reduction of multiple sclerosis , according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
- The reduced risk of developing heart disease , according to 2008 results published in
The reduced likelihood of developing the flu , according to a 2010 study published in the
Clinical Nutrition Journal
2. Vitamin D Reduces Depression
Research has shown that vitamin D may play an important role in regulating mood and preventing depression . In
In another study on people with fibromyalgia , researchers found that vitamin D deficiency was more common in those who also suffered from anxiety and depression.
3. Vitamin D Boosts Weight Loss
Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if you're trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease.
In study , people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. Scientists have said that the extra calcium and vitamin D have an appetite suppressant effect.
In an other study , overweight people who took a daily vitamin D supplement improved their heart disease risk markers.
Watch out for D-ficiency
Many factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D from sunlight alone. These factors include:
- Being in a high pollution area
- Use sunscreen
- Spend more time indoors
- Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
- Have darker skin. (The higher the melanin levels, the less vitamin D the skin can absorb.)
These factors contribute to vitamin D deficiency in an increasing number of people. That's why it's important to get some of your vitamin D from sources other than sunlight.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in adults include:
- Fatigue , aches and general feeling of unease
- Pain or weakness bone Where muscular strict which may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or a low chair, or cause you to walk waddling
- Stress fractures , especially in the legs, pelvis and hips
Doctors can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency by performing a simple blood test. If you have a disability, your doctor may order x-rays to check the strength of your bones.
If you are diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, your doctor will likely recommend that you take daily vitamin D supplements.
If you have a severe deficiency, they may recommend high-dose vitamin D tablets or liquids instead. You also need to make sure you get vitamin D through sunlight and the foods you eat.
What are the food sources of vitamin D?
Few foods naturally contain vitamin D.
For this reason, some foods are fortified. This means that vitamin D has been added. Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- Egg yolk
- Milk (fortified)
- Cereals (enriched)
- Yogurt (enriched)
- Orange juice (enriched)
It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D each day from exposure to sunlight and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements can help.
How much vitamin D do you need per day?
There has been some controversy over the amount of vitamin D needed for healthy functioning. Recent research indicates that you need more vitamin D than previously thought. Normal blood serum levels range from 50 to 100 micrograms per deciliter. Depending on your blood level, you may need more vitamin D.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences reports new recommendations based on international units (IU) per day. IUs are a standard type of measurement for drugs and vitamins. IUs help experts determine the recommended dose, toxicity, and deficiency levels for each person.
An IU is not the same for each type of vitamin. An IU is determined by the amount of a substance that produces an effect in your body. The daily recommended IUs for vitamin D are:
- Children and adolescents: 600 IU
- Adults up to 70 years old: 600 IU
- Adults over 70: 800 IU
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women: 600 IU