It is common knowledge by now that Vitamin D is integral to the body’s functioning. A deficiency in this Vitamin can cause unwanted problems and hinder our lifestyle. This is even more so the case in winters.
As we all know, the sun’s rays are the most abundant source of Vitamin D. However, during the winter months, sunlight isn’t as abundant as compared to the other seasons. This significantly increases the likelihood of acquiring Vitamin D from the sun, which may cause Vitamin D deficiencies to be more common.
Solving the problem of Vitamin D requires a comprehensive understanding of what Vitamin D does for our body and how we can make the most out of it.
Three key reasons why Vitamin D is important for the body are as follows:
• Strengthening the bones: Vitamin D is essential in facilitating calcium and phosphorus to build bones. Without this, bones are susceptible to becoming brittle, weak, soft, and even conditions such as rickets.
• Calcium absorption: Vitamin D promotes the optimal absorption of Calcium from our food, which is important in the health and maintenance of different parts of our body – from our teeth to our blood.
• Synergy with parathyroid glands: Vitamin D works together with the parathyroid glands to regulate Calcium levels in the bloodstream. This happens in conjunction with the kidneys, gut, and skeleton.
Some of the signs and symptoms are seen in a person who has very low levels of Vitamin D can include:
• Muscle weakness, muscle aches, muscle cramps
• Bone pain
• Mood changes
• Rickets (very rare cases) in children.
· Defect bone mineralization can lead to osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults.
Vitamin D can also be the result of certain medical conditions, the most prominent of which are:
• Obesity – Fat cells don’t allow VItamin D to be released into the bloodstream. This is why higher Body Mass Indexes are often associated with lower Vitamin D levels.
• Kidney and liver disease – They reduce the amounts of required enzymes needed to change Vitamin D to the form it is utilized in by the body.
• Cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease – these diseases prevent the intestines from absorbing sufficient Vitamin D.
Apart from natural sunlight, the following are some sources of Vitamin D:
• Foods: salmon, tuna, cod liver oil, egg yolk, orange juice, fortified cereals.
• Nutritional supplements
· Recommended daily allowance: 1500 – 2000 units /day in adults.
Just like most other things, too much of a good thing can be bad symptoms of hypervitaminosis D are due to increased calcium in the blood. Some symptoms that may indicate overly high Vitamin D levels in the body are:
• Increased thirst and urination
• Reduced/ poor appetite