Vitamin D: Health Benefits and Uses
Vitamin D, nicknamed as a ‘sunshine vitamin’, stands among the leading vitamins and minerals that provide the largest number of health benefits.
Vitamin D, in the older times, was never thought of as powerful and effective, as much as it is hailed today. The credit goes to a plethora of researches carried out by different institutions and forums and the health professionals who came up with a stunning hypothesis and succeeded in their experiments.
The researches have contributed a lot to spread awareness among masses and established Vitamin D as a very smart preventer of many serious diseases.
In this post, we will discuss what are the main health benefits of vitamin D, how much amount of vitamin D is just right for your overall health, and what amount would be optimum to treat the deficiency you might have developed.
Vitamin D supports growth and development
Vitamin D acts as a building block of human’s structure. It provides health to the core of the body, that is the bones and muscles. It also supports various body organs to work fine, such as the brain, lungs, and the heart.
Vitamin D is discharged from sunlight. When the body absorbs it, it turns the absorbed amounts into a hormone, known as calcitriol or ‘activated vitamin D’. The hormone works for the body in two ways.
1. It manages calcium in your blood, guts and bones.
2. It helps the body cells to communicate.
When the activated vitamin D starts performing, following are the benefits that follow.
1. Vitamin D helps in calcium absorption
Calcium performs several vital functions for the body. These include the strengthening of bones and muscles, preventing osteoporosis, protecting teeth from decaying, adding health and strength to them, and etc.
But the role of calcium comes after vitamin D. This is because it is vitamin D which causes the body to absorb calcium. Without enough amounts of vitamin D in the body, intake of calcium by any means won’t make any difference.
2. Vitamin D develops stronger bones
Vitamin D is crucial for bone formation. It starts its play when the fetus is developing its bones in the mother’s womb. At that time, on one hand, vitamin D stimulates bone development, and at the other hand protects mother’s bones from breakage. This is the ‘two-way’ function of vitamin D, pertaining to bone health during pregnancy.
Vitamin D, in general, supports bone health by continuously adding strength to it. Researches have established that good amounts of vitamin D save kids from rickets and adults from developing osteomalacia.
Vitamin D also saves from brittle bones and fractures. Research claims that high amounts of vitamin D intake can reduce up to 20 per cent the risk of developing hip and spine fractures.
3. Vitamin D provides strength to muscles
Vitamin D deficiency can cause muscles to ache very often, problems in physical activity and the extremes can lead to hyperparathyroidism.
Vitamin D provides muscles with the same strength and enhanced working ability as it does for the bones. It assists body muscles in easy contraction and expansion for improved physical performance.
Vitamin D provides the body with an amazing ability to build a defence against certain potential ailments and inflictions. It improves the immune system and reduces the risks of the body adapting many major and minor diseases such as multiple sclerosis and type 2 diabetes.
5. Vitamin D stimulates skin health
Vitamin D optimizes skin health by improving its defence. It helps the skin to fight off free radical bacteria. The free radical bacteria can damage the skin’s texture and youth. Vitamin D stops premature aging impacts and gives you radiant-looking skin.
Vitamin D prevents and fights off diseases
Vitamin D also provides very effective fortification against diseases. It is known to both prevent and treat certain diseases.
Vitamin D in combination with calcium lowers the chances of the body developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a situation of bone thinning and breaking.
If the body is already suffering from osteoporosis, corrected portions can help to bring back health to the bones.
2. Vitamin D saves from colon cancer
A number of researches carried out worldwide have shown the links between reduced rates of colon cancer and good reception of Vitamin D. The greater cases of colon cancer among the people habituating in higher altitudes triggered the hypothesis which is still due to receive sufficient evidence.
However, some scientists have issued a call for action based on the initial success stories of the hypothesis. If vitamin D does not completely provide combat against colon cancer, it definitely contains some of the potential elements to reduce its risks. They recommend an intake to 2000 IU per day to see the results.
3. Vitamin D lowers the risk of heart diseases
Since vitamin D enables wholesome muscles activity in the body, it regulates the heart as well. The heart contains receptors of vitamin D, which helps to improve heart functions. Well-conducted heart functions naturally lessen the chances of any heart-related disorders.
An optimum intake of vitamin D has been proven to reduce the number of heart attacks, strokes, cardiac death and cardiovascular deaths too.
The matter of tuberculosis in connection with vitamin D came up when most of the cases of TB were observed to have been emerging from places of higher altitudes as compared to those near the equator. And also, people who were diagnosed to have TB had lower levels of vitamin D in their bodies.
Taking into consideration the above evidence, many studies concluded that enough sunshine exposure and additional vitamin D in food can diminish the chances of tuberculosis. This is because vitamin D strengthens the immune system and a powerful immune system doesn’t let the TB bacteria inflict lungs.
5. Vitamin D reduces the number of infant mortalities
Many infants die in the womb due to insufficient nutrition. Among the key nutrients, vitamin D has an important standing.
Vitamin D production during pregnancy is very important to develop fetal lungs and bones. If the fetus does not get a modest amount of UVB exposure, it is probable that lung development is hindered and the infant develops respiratory distress syndrome. This may increase the risk of mortalities.
Vitamin D dosage
According to 2010 reference dietary intake, 600 IU of vitamin D dose is to be maintained under normal circumstances. However, in order to treat a particular illness, or under a chronic deficiency, the maximum limit can be stretched up to 1000 IU per day.
Recently, many vitamin supplement providers have started to offer 1000 IU D2 or D3 as a standard requirement per day.
Vitamin D Sources
Vitamin D can be derived from the following three sources.
1. Vitamin D from sun
The best way to receive vitamin D is to spend a minimum of 15-20 minutes in the sun if you are living near the equator. Increase the exposure in case of higher latitudes and during winters.
2. Vitamin D from wholefoods
Vitamin D from food does not suffice the actual requirements of the body. There are very few foods that offer vitamin D in modest proportions. However, alongside optimum sun exposure, a vitamin D rich diet should be maintained on a daily basis.
Vitamin D is found in fatty fishes, such as Tuna, Mackerel and Salmon. It can also be obtained from beef liver. Some dairy products such as cheese and egg yolk also provide little amounts of vitamin D. Mushrooms are a good source.
Moreover, all the fortified foods such as cereals, yoghurt, cheese and milk contain adequate levels of Vitamin D.
3. Vitamin D in supplements
Vitamin D supplements are a great way to build up sufficient vitamin D reserves in your body. If you are living in the U.S. or Canada or other places of higher altitudes, this is probably the only best option for you.
Vitamin D is not just a vitamin that you should take casually to stay healthy, rather you must take it deliberately to stay perfect to enjoy all the perks of life.