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.