Life is the best gift from the Creator and a healthy life is just matchless to anything else. Ask the worth of this sentence from a sick person lying helpless and hopeless on the death bed and you will know the facts yourself.
A healthy life is directly proportional to the balanced diet and its consumption. The more you live on the balance diet and its proper consumption, the more you are healthy and long lasting.
A balanced diet is the one containing all the nutrients including vitamins and among these, vitamin D is one of our best natural friends, playing a very crucial role in our lives. Let’s visit the domain of this vitamin which over a billion people worldwide are deficient of.
What Is Vitamin D?
Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, it is a fat soluble steroid found in your diet, through food or dietary supplements, or synthesized in the skin upon exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D has two types: Vitamin D2 also known as ergocalceferol and vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol.
About 50 to 90% of this vital vitamin is produced in the skin by sunlight and the remaining 10% comes from the diet like egg yolk, fatty fish, fortified dairy products and beef liver. 10 to 15 min of sensible direct exposure to the sunlight at the maximum thrice a weak produces sufficient amount of vitamin D for most of the people, but it breaks down quite quickly especially in winter.
Though a vitamin by classification, it may be regarded as a prohormone because it plays a key role in various metabolic processes taking place in our body.
- Calcium and phosphorous balance is very much important for bone health and nerve and muscle activity, and the role of vitamin D in this connection is really vital.
- It also plays its role in regulating blood pressure, immune function, cell production and insulin secretion.
- Prevention and therapy of cancer, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular diseases and infections also involve vitamin D as their cure.
1. Ensures Healthy Bones
Regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorous levels in the blood are the two factors responsible for the healthy bones, and vitamin D plays a substantial role in this connection. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium in the intestine and reclaim it to avoid its excretion through the kidneys. In this way, vitamin D plays a vital role in maintaining healthy bones.
2. Helps Avoid Structural Diseases
Sufficient amount of vitamin D in children helps avoid Rickets, a disease in which a child appears severely bow-legged due to the softening of the bones. Vitamin D inhibits the development of Osteomalacia (softening of the bones and muscular weakness) and Osteoporosis (a most common bone disease in post-menopausal women and older men).
3. Reduces Risks of FLU
Vitamin D reduces the risks of Influenza A infection in children over 40% if they are given 1200 IU of vitamin D per day for four months during the winter.
4. Reduces Risks of Diabetes
An inverse relationship exists between blood concentration of vitamin D and risk of type 2 diabetes. Insulin secretion and glucose tolerance is negatively affected by insufficient vitamin D levels in patients of type 2 diabetes. It has been observed very carefully that the infants receiving 2000 IU of vitamin D per day have 88% lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
5. Keeps Infants Healthy
Some infants were given 400 IU of vitamin D per day while a few others were given 2000 IU per day in an experimental study. All the children were with normal blood pressure. It was observed after 16 weeks that those receiving 2000 IU had significantly lower arterial wall stiffness as compared to the others.
Normal vitamin D status in infants ensures no risk and severity of atopic childhood diseases as well as allergic diseases including Asthma, Atopic Dermatitis and Eczema.
6. Helps Cure Asthma
People suffering from steroid-resistant asthma may use vitamin D as a supportive therapy to enhance the anti inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids.
7. Keeps Healthy Pregnancy
The pregnant women with sufficient amount of vitamin D are never at risk of developing preeclampsia and they do not have to undergo a cesarean section. Normal level of vitamin D keeps the pregnant women away from gestational diabetes mellitus and bacterial vaginosis.
On the other hand, high levels of vitamin D during pregnancy may enhance the risk of food allergy in the child during the first two years of life. So, a normal level of vitamin D should be maintained.
8. Prevents Cancer
Calcitriol, the hormonal form of vitamin D, reduces the cancer progression by slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in the cancerous tissues or areas. This is because of the extreme importance of vitamin D in the regulation of cell growth and cell-to-cell communication. Vitamin D helps increase cancer cell death and reduces cell proliferation and metastases.
Causes of Its Deficiency
A lot of reasons are there to cause vitamin D deficiency in our body though it can itself create sufficient amount by keeping exposed to the sunlight for 10 to 15 min thrice a week. For example, ultra violet radiations B (UVB) absorbed by the body to produce vitamin D are hindered by the darker skin color and the use of sunscreen. These two can reduce the body’s ability to synthesize the vitamin by 95 %.
People who work at night and stay home during the day time also develop vitamin D deficiency due to non-exposure to the sunlight for days at length. Breast-fed infants also get deficient in vitamin D if they are dark colored or not exposed to sunlight regularly. The American Academy of pediatrics suggests that all breast-fed infants receive at least 400 IU of this vitamin per day through drops made especially for babies.
Its Major Sources
The most common and efficient source of vitamin D is sunlight. However, its richest food sources include fish oil, fatty fish, egg yolk, chicken and milk.
Recommended Intake of Vitamin D
The U.S. institute of medicine has updated the recommended daily intakes of vitamin D throughout life as follows. Here it must be clear that the measuring unit may be either a microgram (mcg) or an IU.
|Infants||0—12 months– 400 IU (10 mcg)|
|Children||1—18 years — 600 IU (15 mcg)|
|Adults||19—70 years — 600 IU (15 mcg)|
|Adults||70— death —- 800 IU (20 mcg)|
|Pregnant and lactating women|| |
600 IU (15 mcg)