Vitamin D is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, and also found in some foods of animal origin; Vitamin D is crucial for the development of healthy bones and teeth, particularly during early childhood. Without it, your body cannot build or maintain strong bones.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that controls calcium absorption, which affects bone development and is also essential for blood clotting. When vitamin D is in short supply, less calcium is absorbed, from food and blood levels have to be maintained by taking calcium from bones. Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin”, the body stops producing vitamin D once you got a suntan.
Common symptoms associated with a deficiency of Vitamin D.
– Lower backache
– Tooth decay
– Felling tired or fatigue
– Twisted limbs in children
– Low mood
– Brittle, painful bones.
Some conditions associated with Vitamin D deficiency.
Osteoporosis– elderly people and those at risk of developing osteoporosis may benefit from taking vitamin D supplements to increase calcium absorption and strengthen bones.
Healthy teeth: vitamin D supplements can strengthen teeth and reduce bone loss caused by gum disease.
Rickets: vitamin D can prevent rickets in children, which causes soft, malformed bones.
Psoriasis: some people with psoriasis find that their symptoms improve when they increase their daily intake of vitamin D.
Main functions of Vitamin D
– Helps build healthy teeth and bones.
– Helps regulate calcium and phosphorus absorption in the body.
Sources of vitamin D:
Natural sources: Primarily sunlight exposure in the morning. If you have plenty of sun exposure to sunlight, then you are unlikely to need vitamin D supplements.
Food sources include: cod liver oil, herrings, pilchards, mackerel, sardines, salmon, tuna, some fortified fat spreads such as margarine and some breakfast cereals.
Vitamin D supplements are recommended for all types of people especially during the winter months; people on a vegan or vegetarian diet as the main food sources are from animal origin.
People with a naturally dark skin tone have natural sun protection and require at least three to five times longer exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D as a person with a white skin tone.
Clinical benefits of vitamin D
Cancer– Vitamin D decreases cell proliferation and increases cell differentiation, stops the growth of new blood vessels, and has significant anti-inflammatory effects. There is some evidence revealing that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased breast cancer risk.
Heart disease– Several studies are providing evidence that the protective effect of vitamin D on the heart could be via the renin–angiotensin hormone system, through the suppression of inflammation, or directly on the cells of the heart and blood-vessel walls. it is important to note that although some studies showed that having low levels of vitamin D is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the low vitamin D is a result of lifestyle factors that increase the risk of heart disease but not the cause of increased risk.
Rheumatoid Arthritis– is an autoimmune disorder of unknown etiology in which both genetic and nongenetic factors contribute to disease susceptibility. The immunomodulatory effect of vitamin D has received increasing attention in recent years. Studies showed that when confronted by an inappropriate and overly exuberant immune response, vitamin D may act in a paracrine manner to decrease T cell responsiveness through the inhibition of cellular proliferation and reduction in lymphokine production. Therefore vitamin D has a beneficial effect as an immunosuppressant.