Among the most beneficial vitamins, vitamin D, also known as Calciferol, holds a distinctive place. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and can, therefore, be easily stored inside the body. We often hear about vitamin D when talking about calcium. It is because of the fact that vitamin D and calcium usually act together in making the bones and teeth strong. A good amount of exposure to sunlight is an effective source of producing more and more vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is also known for improving the condition of the immune system.
Generally, vitamin D is available in two variant forms; vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. These types act in their particular ways of increasing the level of vitamin D in the blood. But their actual activity should be known before one opts to take these vitamins as supplements.
Influence of Vitamin D on different age groups
Vitamin D is important for adults as well as children. Apart from many positive effects produced by vitamin D, deficiency of this vitamin can lead to many serious conditions both in adults and youngsters. Adults deficient in this vitamin D experience fractures and skeletal deformations such as Osteomalacia (softening of bones) more often.
Most people with darker complexions do not absorb sunlight that efficiently and the vitamin D production in these people is considerably reduced. This deficiency can lead to many different kinds of diseases like high blood pressure, different kinds of cancer, depression, and obesity in adults. In children, vitamin D deficiency can prove very detrimental as it causes rickets, in which children have soft and brittle bones and the weight-bearing bones, like those of pelvic girdle, are deformed easily, affecting the overall posture of the body.
How it affects the Body
Vitamin D affects almost all the processes of the body in a very favorable way. It is known to prevent some of the most dangerous disorders and improve the overall condition of the body. Some of the remarkable effects this vitamin creates on the body are as under:
● Vitamin D helps calcium get absorbed into the bones, making them all the more strong. It prevents osteoporosis and other bone disorders, particularly in women having experienced menopause. They, by taking regular vitamin D doses along with calcium supplements, can easily prevent the increased risk of fractures with age.
● Vitamin D helps to reduce chances of falling, especially in older people. It also prevents any possible parathyroid disorders and smoothes up the process of usage and storage of calcium by the body. It helps reduce hypertension to some extent.
● In most cases, vitamin D is found to play a role in reducing the risk of colon, skin, prostate and breast cancers. Good amount of vitamin D also helps prevent type II diabetes. If infants are given 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily for one year, type I diabetes does not develop in these children in the future. Vitamin D also helps prevent the heart diseases like heart attack and a sudden complete heart failure, as it prevents calcium from accumulating in the arteries and blocking the passage of blood to the heart.
● Vitamin D is also associated with reducing the risk of many unusual disorders. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), occurring during the winter season and giving the patient extreme depression due to lack of sufficient sunlight, can be easily treated with vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D revitalizes the minds of the patients and makes them feel relaxed and contented. Vitamin D also reduces the chances of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) considerably.
● Vitamin D helps you keep away from obesity as well. It also makes you less susceptible to any possible factors causing direct death.
Sources of Vitamin D
Natural sources of vitamin D include cereals, eggs, fatty fish (mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, etc.) and, most importantly, cod liver oil. Nowadays vitamin D-fortified milks and other dairy products are also available in the markets. Another natural source of vitamin D is direct sunlight but the tendency of vitamin D formation by our skin reduces with age. Supplements are also available but they should only be taken on prescription. Taking the vitamin unnecessarily can cause side effects like poor appetite, weight loss, fatigue, itchy eyes and skin and metallic taste in the mouth. Sometimes vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and frequent urination can also be the side effects.
Daily dosages of Vitamin D
In infants from the time of birth up to 12 months, 400 IU of vitamin D is required daily. Children between the ages of 1 and 18 should take in 600 IU of the vitamin daily. For adults between the ages of 19 and 50, 600 IU and for those having the age of 70 or above, 800 IU of vitamin D is required. Breastfeeding and pregnant females are advised to take 600 IU of the vitamin daily.
How to treat Vitamin D deficiencies naturally
Vitamin D, like any other vitamin, should be taken in sufficient amounts regularly. If a person gets deficient in vitamin D somehow, quick steps should be taken to overcome these deficiencies. There are many trusted ways for making up for vitamin D deficiencies:
● A good amount of exposure to sunlight is the best way to produce more and more vitamin D within your body. People having lighter complexion can absorb sunlight very efficiently and generally do not suffer from this deficiency. But darker ones have a problem in absorbing enough light. So such people should take in regular doses of vitamin D supplements to keep away the deficiency.
● Not many food sources are very commonly found to have this vitamin in sufficient amount. Usually, this vitamin is artificially made a part of dairy products. Fish, eggs, fish oils, beef liver, shrimps, some particular types of cheese, orange juice and cereals are some of the few food sources that can provide you with plenty of vitamin D.
● Vitamin D supplements, although not a natural source, are considered very useful in fulfilling the vitamin D requirements of your body. These supplements are only recommended when one wants to overcome any syndrome resulting from vitamin D deficiency. Whatever reason you want to take these supplements for, always consult a good doctor before you start the course.
By Liya Das
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