All There Is To Know About Vitamin D

I remember growing up and being an introvert; I loved spending most of my time indoors. My mum had to make me go outside to bask in the sun saying it was healthy for me though I never understood what the fuss was all about. Well, I developed bow legs, and now I understand why I needed Vitamin D, popularly known as the sunshine vitamin. Allow me to let you in on all about vitamin D.

What exactly is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is not a Vitamin per se. We can only obtain vitamins from our diets because our bodies cannot produce them. However, our bodies can synthesise vitamin D with the help of sunshine. Sunshine exposure for around 10 minutes thrice a week is sufficient for most people.

Vitamin D Benefits

Vitamin D has a myriad of benefits so let’s look at some of them:

l Healthy Bones

Calcium and phosphorus are two vital minerals we need for healthy bones and vitamin D plays a crucial role in helping to regulate their levels. Vitamin D enables us to absorb calcium which the kidneys would otherwise excrete.

l Increased immunity

  1. Flu-Having sufficient vitamin D will help your body fight diseases. Children who take 1,200 IU of vitamin D daily reduce their risk of contracting the flu.
  2. Diabetes- some studies show an inverse relationship between type 2 diabetes risk and vitamin D levels. Sufficient levels of vitamin D encourage insulin secretion thus lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes development.

iii. Cancer- vitamin facilitates cell growth regulation. In some studies, there is enough evidence indicating that calcitriol, vitamin D’s active form, can lower cancer progression by retarding cancerous tissue growth and development. It can also reduce cell proliferation and increase death of cancer cells.

l Better health in pregnancy

A pregnant woman lacking vitamin D is at high risk of developing preeclampsia thus requiring birth by caesarean section. Such low levels may also lead to bacterial vaginosis and gestational diabetes mellitus.

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms

Our bodies communicate to us that something is wrong by developing signs and symptoms. Therefore, when we lack enough supply of vitamin D, we develop the following symptoms:

l Constant infections- if you are continually falling ill with infections such as the flu and pneumonia, you are most likely suffering from vitamin D deficiency.

l Fatigue- feeling tired even when you have barely done nothing could be due to vitamin D deficiency so you can have your levels checked.

l Back pain- when your back is too painful, consider basking in the sun and allow vitamin D to help develop healthy bones. The same applies to joint pain and any other aches in your bones.

l Slow healing of your wounds- a wound that is taking too long to heal could be an indication that your body needs vitamin D. Vitamin D helps to form new tissue for faster wound healing.

l Bone loss- if the minute you have a slight fall you end up with a fractured bone, you lack enough vitamin D. Vitamin D enables calcium absorption and low levels result in low bone mineral density.

Will too much vitamin D affect you?

Too much of anything is toxic and the same applies in vitamin D. having too much can result in:’

l Increased calcium levels- too much calcium causes:

  1. Excessive thirst.
  2. Stomach problems like pain and vomiting.

iii. Frequent urination.

l Kidney failure- you will be overworking your kidneys with too much vitamin D. Kidneys help in excretion therefore once damaged, you may end up with problems like swollen limbs.

How much is enough?

The ideal dosage depends on various factors such as age, season and many more. However, according to the US Institute of Medicine, a daily intake of 10-20 micrograms is enough for most people.

In the UK, SACN recommends a daily intake of 10 micrograms for everyone over one year, while for infants, they recommend a daily intake of 8.5 -10 micrograms is suitable.

Conclusion

We should prioritize our bodies by taking care of them especially when we know the benefits we accrue from doing so. The best thing about vitamin D is that you get it just be lazing around in the sun. So, what’s your excuse for vitamin D deficiency?

New Studies Show Vitamin D Benefits Crucial To Health From Conception Through Childhood

Two recent studies confirm the importance of vitamin D benefits from conception through birth and childhood.

A new Dutch study indicates that newborns with low levels of vitamin D are six times more likely to develop respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the primary cause of serious lung infections during the first months of life.

The study, conducted by the Netherlands’ Utrecht University Medical Center and reported in the Journal of Pediatrics online, tracked 156 infants from birth through their first year. The researchers analyzed cord blood from the newborns to determine vitamin D levels and monitored the children to determine the incidence of lung and respiratory problems.

The initial results of the cord blood analysis confirmed the prevalence of low vitamin D levels at birth, with 54% of the infants showing deficiency of the vitamin. During the first year of life a total of 12% of the children who had low D vitamin levels developed RSV-related lung infections.

RSV, which causes inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, is the most common cause of bronchitis and pneumonia. It is extremely dangerous for infants and may even be fatal if complications arise. Inflammation is also the cause of hair thinning as men and women grow up; in an article titled “10 Ways to Naturally Thicken Hair” via Humancure, it explains how inflammation affects hair growth in turn from low Vitamin D levels.

Similar high rates of deficiency in newborns has been demonstrated in the US. A 2010 Boston hospital study showed that 58% of infants and 36% of mothers had insufficient levels of D vitamin, with about 38% of infants and 23% of mother testing at severely deficient levels.

Infants born of mothers who took vitamin D supplements during pregnancy were at greatly reduced risk of deficiency, the study said.

D Vitamin Deficiency Associated With Childhood Obesity

The negative implications of vitamin D deficiency don’t stop in infancy. A recent University of Pittsburgh study revealed that children who have the lowest levels of the vitamin are the most likely to be obese.

The study tracked more than 200 white, black, obese and non-obese youngsters between 8 and 18 years of age. A disturbing finding of the research confirmed the widespread prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in young people; most of the children tracked by the study had insufficient levels of the vitamin, the researchers said.

The results showed strong associations between D vitamin deficiency and higher body mass index, higher fat levels, and lower levels of “good” cholesterol. Among those who demonstrated D vitamin deficiency, the white children were found to be more at risk for excess visceral fat while the black children were are great risk of excess subcutaneous fat.

Vitamin D Benefits: How Much Do We Need?

Vitamin D benefits us in a multitude of ways. It can positively affect many conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. Considering it’s notable benefits, many people are becoming more interested than ever in finding ways to get enough of this wonder vitamin. We know we need it, but what are the best sources, and how much should we be getting?

It’s common knowledge that vitamin D benefits are related to sunlight exposure, but can basking in the sun’s rays alone yield outstanding results? Do we need vitamin D from other sources? Doses in commercial supplements vary widely, which can make choosing one a difficult process. Do we need them in the first place, and if we do, in what quantity?

There are many things to consider when determining how much vitamin D benefits us each day. While there’s no magic dose which is right for everyone, there are many ways to tell if we need to be more mindful of our vitamin D intake.

How can we tell if we’re not getting enough vitamin D? Important things to consider include how much time we spend in the sun each day, where we live, our age, and our physical makeup and overall health. Old-fashioned sun exposure works well for many young, generally healthy people; for them, spending even 10 to 30 minutes in the sun can provide optimal vitamin D levels. Even if we’re getting sufficient UVB sun exposure, in our late 30’s we start to lose the ability to activate all the vitamin D our bodies usually need.

When the human body is exposed to the sun’s UVB radiation, a cholesterol derivative in our skin produces vitamin D. The sun’s UVB rays are less able to stimulate our bodies’ natural vitamin D production in northern areas due to the tilt of the earth’s axis. This means that if we’re not living in the right location, even if we’re getting a lot of sun, it still may not be enough. Those in southern climates fare better, with best results obtained near the equator. Those of us inhabiting points north may need to consider a supplement.

Naturally, the amount of vitamin D we need is closely related to our body weight. The more we weigh, the more we need. Even when a heavier person gets a great deal of sun exposure, they are likely still not getting enough to produce all the vitamin D they require.
vitamin D benefits those suffering from chronic illnesses greatly. These conditions can take a toll on the body’s vitamin D reserves. When our bodies are fighting to remain healthy, we often use vitamin D more quickly than we can produce it through sun exposure alone.

Inadequate sun exposure has a negative impact on our vitamin D levels in and of itself, but when combined with other factors, many of us find ourselves seriously deficient in this vital nutrient. The best way to find out if you’re getting enough vitamin D is blood testing. In terms of clinical tests, vitamin D testing is relatively inexpensive. While this is often done at the doctor’s office, online tests and even home testing kits are now in wide use.

60-80 ng/ml is considered an optimal vitamin D blood level, similar to that of a young, healthy person who spends enough time in the sun. Levels this high allow your body to maintain a reserve. It’s a good idea to start taking a vitamin D supplement at least two months before having your levels tested. This way, doses can be adjusted based on the results of your test. Experts recommend beginning a vitamin D supplement regime by taking 1,000 IU per 25 pounds of body weight. For example, a 150 pound person would start by taking an approximate 6,000 IU daily dose. If the results of the test show an insufficient amount of vitamin D, adding more is relatively simple. For most people, each 1,000 IU more vitamin D supplement ingested results in approximately a 10 ng/ml boost in vitamin D blood levels. Remember that this is general information, and to carefully customize your dose it’s necessary to repeat blood testing every few months.

Finding the best kind of vitamin D supplements can help acheive steady results. Oil-based vitamin D yields the most desirable results. Being fat-soluble, vitamin D is best ingested with some form of fat. Oil-based supplements facilitate maximum absorption.

The two most commonly found varieties of vitamin D are Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 is a synthesized form of the vitamin, manufactured by exposing various plant varieties to ultraviolet radiation. It’s mostly found in pill preparations, and is considered less desirable than Vitamin D3, which the body uses more efficiently. Vitamin D3 can be purchased in commonly available oil-based softgel pills.