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Vitamin D and its effects

Vitamin D: Health Benefits, Deficiency, Food Sources, and Supplements

Vitamin D is called many names such as “calciferol” or the “sunshine Vitamin.” It is a fat soluble vitamin naturally present in some of our foods. It is also added to other foods to fortify them, and it can be taken as a dietary supplement. Sunlight is the major source of vitamin D for humans. Our skin produces Vitamin D naturally when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin. Vitamin D is vital for our health because it promotes the formation of healthy bones in children, adults and elderly people. This is because vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and regulate phosphate concentrations in the body. Without sufficient vitamin D, our bones can become thin, brittle, or weak. Good levels of Vitamin D prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Research also suggests that combining Vitamin D with calcium protects older adults from osteoporosis.

Related: Vitamin A: Health Benefits, Deficiency, Food Sources, and Supplements

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

  • Strong bone and muscle strength

Vitamin D supports the growth of strong bones and helps the body to develop muscle fibres. Having a good level of Vitamin D has been linked with healthy bone mineral density and bone mass. This reduces the risk of fracture and allows us to keep fit every day.

  • Reduces risk of cancer

There is enough evidence that vitamin D has anti-inflammatory and antiangiogenic effects. Thus, it is believed that Vitamin D can help to slow tumour growth in some types of cancers.

  • Helps to maintain the heart

Vitamin D helps regulate the heart and reduce the risk of blood pressure. This vitamin promotes cell growth in the heart area and helps free up any blockage or stiffening that may prevent blood flow within the heart. 

  • Helps to prevent depression

Vitamin D is involved in various brain processes. Some studies suggest that it can prevent or treat mild symptoms of depression.

  • Help to prevent Type 2 diabetes

Vitamin D plays a vital role in glucose metabolism. It stimulates insulin secretion and promotes liver function, especially in Type 2 diabetes.

Rich Sources of Vitamin D

 Sunlight is the major source of Vitamin D. The body creates vitamin D when direct sunlight hits the skin. Vitamin D is also found in the food we eat. For example, the flesh of fatty fish like trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel contain vitamin D. Fish liver oil is also rich in vitamin D. Other foods like mushrooms, beef, liver, egg yolks, and cheese have small amounts of vitamin D. In most countries, Vitamin D is added to juice, yoghurt, margarine, and other food products to fortify them.

Top vitamin D rich foods and their content include:

FoodSize(IU) per serving
Cod liver oil1 tablespoon1,360
TroutCooked, 3 ounces645
SalmonCooked, 3 ounces570
White Mushrooms1/2 cup366
Vitamin D fortified milk1 cup120
Vitamin D-fortified soy, almond and oat milks1 cup100-144
Vitamin D fortified cereals1 serving80
Sardines2 pieces canned in oil46
Egg1 large44
Liver, beef3 ounces42
Tuna fish3 ounces40
Cheese1.5 ounce17

Related:Top Foods Rich in Vitamin B

Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency occurs when people do not have enough dietary intake or exposure to UVB rays. Today, Vitamin D deficiency is very common around the world. In children, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets. This disease happens when children’s legs become bow-shaped because of soft bones. In adults and adolescents, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia. It is similar to rickets. Osteomalacia weakens bones and can cause them to break more easily. Certain factors like season and skin colour can increase the chances of Vitamin D Deficiency.

People With Risk Of Vitamin D Deficiency

Infants

Unborn babies depend on their mother for a healthy supply of vitamin D. Women who do not have a healthy vitamin D level cannot supply enough of this vitamin to their children through breast milk. It is also advised for pregnant women to eat vitamin D rich foods and spend time outdoor to avoid a deficiency in their unborn kids.

Older Adults

Old people’s skin has a lesser ability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight. Also, older adults who spend more time indoors stand a risk of Vitamin D deficiency.

People Who Do Not Get Enough Sunlight

This includes people who are always under sunscreen in the office or car. Also, most persons who wear long dresses or head coverings for religious reasons may not be getting enough sunlight.

People with Dark Skin

Black people, especially Africans, can be at risk of Vitamin D Deficiency. This is because a dark skin reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight.

How Much Vitamin D Should I Get?

Below are healthy doses of vitamin D for different age groups.

AgeMenWomenPregnant womenBreastfeeding
0-6 months25 mcg (1,000 IU)25 mcg (1,000 IU)  
7-12 months38 mcg (1,500 IU38 mcg (1,500 IU)  
1-3 years63 mcg (2,500 IU)63 mcg (2,500 IU)  
4-8 years75 mcg (3,000 IU)75 mcg (3,000 IU)  
9-18 years100 mcg (4,000 IU)100 mcg (4,000 IU)100 mcg (4,000 IU)100 mcg (4,000 IU) 
19+ years100 mcg (4,000 IU)100 mcg (4,000 IU)100 mcg (4,000 IU)100 mcg (4,000 IU)

Is Too Much Vitamin D good For Me?

Taking excess amounts of vitamin D is bad for the health. Overdosing on vitamin D is caused by consuming too many Vitamin D supplements. Since vitamin D increases calcium absorption, too much vitamin D can cause a condition called hypercalcemia.

Recommended Vitamin D Supplements

Jamieson-Vitamin D3 1000IU

This bioavailable product contains natural ingredients that the body can easily absorb. It is a smart choice for elderly people who want to maintain their vitamin D levels and prevent osteoporosis. Taking 1 of the 1000IU capsules daily helps to promote bone growth and keep teeth strong. A quality brand also offers the product. Jamieson products are very reliable, safe and effective.

Webber Naturals – Vitamin D3 1000IU

The Webber naturals Vitamin D3 is another quality choice you can go for as well. This product is specially designed for adults who want to improve bone density, strengthen their bone and prevent osteoporosis. The supplement also has good anti-inflammatory effects on the body and the immune system.  

Webber Naturals-Vitamin D3 Drops For Pregnant Women and Infants 400IU

Here comes the baby’s choice for mothers who want to avoid the risk of rickets in their children. The product contains 400IU of Vitamin D3, which is ideal for pregnant women and infants. Taking this supplement gives babies enough Vitamin D to maintain strong bones and teeth as they begin to grow. Infants less than 1 year can take one drop of this supplement in breast milk or food daily. A pregnant mom can take a drop 1 or 2 times daily, either alone or with food.

Michael Yeung
Author: Michael Yeung

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