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
- 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.
- 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:
- Excessive thirst.
- 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.
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?