Vitamin D is a fat-soluble secosteroids. It is called ‘sunshine vitamin’ as the human body can manufacture it when exposed to the sun adequately. It's function in humans is unique for it is a prohormone, it works in conjunction with calcium to build strong bones. The daily dosage depends on exposure to sunlight.
Health benefits of Vitamin D
The health benefits of Vitamin D are numerous and it acts best with calcium to maintain strong bones. It also regulates cells and immune system. Here are some of the serious medical conditions that require the right daily dosage of Vitamin D to prevent them.
Benefits in Rickets : This condition can be treated by the right dosages of Vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D can result in the body’s inability to control levels of calcium and phosphates. This means the body needs to generate other hormones to release calcium and phosphate from the bones. This leads to weakening of bones and rickets. Rickets can soon be cured with extra dosage of Vitamin D. The abnormality of the bones quickly disappears.
Osteomalacia : This is a skeletal disease that means ‘soft bones’. Bones are strengthened with the right amounts of mineral coating over a collagen matrix. If the collagen mix is good, then strong bones are formed. If this mineral coating does not form correctly, osteomalacia takes place. New bones will be formed without the mineral coating and this can result in softening of bones. Soft bones can bend and crack easily. Osteomalacia can be treated with exposure to the sun’s rays and oral dose of Vitamin D.
Obesity : The vitamin is known to help in controling obesity. According to a study, post menopausal women who consumed 1000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of Vitamin D for 3 years where found to be less obese than those who did not take this supplement.
Osteoporosis : The right amounts of Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium needed for strong bones. To prevent osteoporosis when older, you must consume enough quantities of Vitamin D all through your life. It is especially needed in growing children when bones are being formed. Health benefits of Vitamin D for post menopausal women are critical since they are the category most likely to contract osteoporosis. Combined with calcium, Vitamin D supplements can lessen bone loss rate and help prevent osteoporosis. This in turn reduces the danger of fractures, which many people suffering from this illness are susceptible to.
Cancer benefits : Some studies have shown a link between consuming the right quantities of Vitamin D and reduced risk of certain cancers such as prostate, breast, skin, pancreatic and colon cancer. Some laboratory tests have been done to provide a link between Vitamin D and anti-cancer effects. It has been suggested that post-menopausal women who consume Vitamin D and calcium supplements run less risk of developing various types of cancer. Similar supplements are said to lower the risk of colon cancer and colorectal cancer. However, no human study has measured any direct effect between taking Vitamin D and lowered risk of cancer.
Hypertension : Some studies have shown that Vitamin D can reduce high blood pressure in people with overactive parathyroid gland or kidney disease. However in post-menopausal women, the study found that Vitamin D and calcium did not lower hypertension significantly.
Seasonal Affective Disorder : SAD is a condition that affects people during winter when they are not exposed to inadequate sunlight. Since Vitamin D is the ‘sunshine vitamin’ it was suggested that those who suffer from SAD be treated with photo therapy and improve intake of Vitamin D.
Benefits in Diabetes : Some population studies suggest that those who have low levels of Vitamin D will develop Type 2 diabetes and infants who are given 2,000 IU of Vitamin D a day can be protected from type 1 diabetes in later years.
Heart Disease : Health benefits of Vitamin D are said to be significant for those susceptible to heart attacks, heart failure and strokes. This is because calcium builds-up in arteries when levels of Vitamin D are low. Calcium build-up results in plaque formation in arteries that results in atherosclerosis and the result is a stroke or heart attack.
Benefit in Multiple Sclerosis : White men and women having higher Vitamin D levels in the blood run a lesser risk of contracting multiple sclerosis (MS). The same however is not true for Hispanic and African American population. Further studies are needed to bring a direct link between Vitamin D supplements and prevention or treatment of MS.
Miscellaneous Health Benefits of Vitamin D
- The risk of falls in seniors can reduce by 22% with an optimum daily dosage of Vitamin D.
- Parathyroid disorders can be treated using Vitamin D. This hormone is essential for 2two key functions – store and use phosphorous and calcium.
- Rachitic Rosary is found in kids who suffer from rickets. These beadlike bumps on the joints of ribs and cartilage can be treated with Vitamin D.
- Peripheral arterial disease can be reduced with the right doses of Vitamin D for it helps the body absorb calcium essential for bones. For this reason, kids are told to sit in direct sunlight to absorb Vitamin D.
Foods rich in Vitamin D
Fatty fish that include mackerel, salmon and tuna provide the best sources of Vitamin D. Lesser quantities are found in cheese, beef, liver and egg yolks. Vitamin D is found in many breakfast cereals, yoghurt, soy beverages, orange juice and margarine. It is also found in multivitamin supplements like tablets, soft gel capsules and liquids. Cod liver oil is considered the best source of Vitamin D supplement.
Optimum dosage of Vitamin D
For infants up to a year it is 10 mg; children 1 to 18 years – 15 mg; adults 19-50 years – 15 mg and over 70 years 20 mg. The requirement increases for senior citizens as body can no more synthesize it naturally using sunlight.
Precautions while taking Vitamin D
The health benefits of Vitamin D are numerous and our bosies have capability of synthesizing it naturally. Whenever a vitamin supplement is consumed, it is essential to do so under the supervision of a health care provider. Those who suffer from heart problems, kidney disease, TB, sarcoidosis and high phosphorous and calcium levels in the blood must be cautious when taking Vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D supplements are especially required by infants, children and the elderly who are not exposed to too much sunlight. With age, the ability of the body to produce this essential vitamin is also reduced. This is why older people suffer from bone diseases that can be debilitating. Consume the recommended doses and enjoy the significant health benefits of vitamin D as enumerated here.