We have all heard of vitamin D and how staying indoors for extended periods can cause you not to get enough of it; but how precisely does sunlight lead to our body producing a vitamin that’s very important to our health? And, what role does vitamin D play in our bodies, and simply however very important is it to functions like bone strength and immunity? Well, vitamin D is incredibly vital for a variety of reasons; and you may even have a vitamin D deficiency without even knowing it.
Vitamin D overview
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, that is completely different from soluble vitamins like vitamin C. Being fat-soluble, vitamin Dis truly dissolved in the fats and oils in your body, that means it can be stored for a long time. There are 2 main forms of vitamin D: vitamin D3 and vitamin D2.
What Is Calciferol?
Calciferol is the chemical name for vitamin D. The chemical name for alimentation D2 is a fat-soluble vitamin. For vitaminD3, the chemical name is cholecalciferol. Once vitamin D is being synthesized, calciferol goes to many chemical changes in the body for it to be used by our cells.
What Causes vitamin D Deficiency?
There are many risk factors that may result in vitamin D deficiency. Most of them involve not getting enough sunlight because we get a large amount of our natural vitamin D from what our body produces once exposed to the sun. If you live in an area with high pollution or a big town where buildings can block the sunlight, you may have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. Also, spending more time indoors and using sunscreen can prevent your exposure to the sun, putting you at risk of a deficiency in vitamin D.
Another risk issue for vitamin D deficiency that you might not expect is having darker skin. This is because higher levels of melanin allow less vitamin D to be absorbed into the skin.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
Having vitamin D deficiency is fairly common; about one billion individuals in the world suffer from it, including 41.6% of people adults according to a 2011 study. The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency will often be subtle, thus most people don’t even notice that they’re deficient. The most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are:
- Having a weakened immune system
- Feeling tired and fatigued
- Pain in the bones and back
- Slow healing of wounds
- Low bone mineral density
- Hair loss
- Chronic muscle pain
- Stress fractures
Additionally, studies have shown that people with low vitamin D levels have a much higher chance of getting cardiovascular disease, diabetes 1 and 2, dementia, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Analysis has additionally linked vitamin D deficiency to a reduced life expectancy. So, we need not say that getting the proper quantity of vitamin D is vital. But, exactly what does vitamin D do?
What does vitamin D Do?
In order to become active in the body after being absorbed, vitamin D must first be converted into calcidiol in your liver, which is its storage form. Then, it’s turned into calcitriol in your kidneys, which is its active steroid-hormone form. As calcitriol, it interacts with the vitamin D receptor found in almost every cell in your body. The way it changes cells and makes a difference in the body is by turning genes on and off, like most different steroidal hormones.
One of the first things that vitamin D is able to do in the body is to affect numerous cells associated with bone health. It does this by promoting the absorption of calcium and phosphorus that come from your gut, encouraging stronger bones. However, calcium production isn’t the sole issue it helps with; new analysis shows that vitamin D may additionally help with immune function and protection against cancer.
Sources of vitamin D
There are a variety of natural sources in which you can get vitamin D. The first issue that comes to mind is sunshine, that is actually one of the most effective natural ways to get vitamin D. when your skin is exposed to the UVB rays from the sun, the cholesterol in your skin produces vitamin D. in order to get substantial amounts of vitamin D to garner benefits from the sunshine, you’ll need to expose a large part of your body.
However, sunshine isn’t the only way for you to get vitamin D. There’s a long list of food sources that are chock full of vitamin D that you should include in your diet particularly if you feel that you need more in your body. You can get vitamin D through diet by eating:
- Cod liver oil
- Fish, like salmon, tuna, and sardines
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
- Shellfish, like shrimp
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, including fortified milk, cereal, yogurt, and orange juice
- Vitamin D Supplements
If you feel that you may be deficient in vitamin D and you need way more significant amounts than you’ll get with safe sun exposure and diet, then you’ll want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
However, if you’re deficient in vitamin D, you’ll need to take a higher dose. The high dosage is also needed for you if you suffer from a deficiency, but make sure to discuss it with your doctor.
Benefits of vitamin D
Vitamin D can do more for our bodies than its basic chemical functions. There are many real benefits of vitamin D that you may potentially garner from getting a healthy amount of vitamin D in your body.
Helps Fight Diseases
There are many studies showing that vitamin Dis also effective in boosting your immune system and helping to fight numerous diseases. In 2010, the analysis showed that vitamin D may additionally help to reduce the likelihood of developing the flu. One 2006 study showed that vitamin D was able to reduce the chance of developing multiple sclerosis. More findings in 2008 found that vitamin D may actually be able to decrease your likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. One study even linked 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day to a 78 reduced risk of type1 diabetes.
Vitamin D and Depression
Several studies have looked into the effect that vitamin D can have on depression. One study showed that individuals with depression who took vitamin D supplements were able to notice an improvement in their symptoms. Another study found that vitamin D deficiency was actually more common in people who were also experiencing anxiety and depression.
Helps Weight Loss
This one is also surprising, but vitamin D has been shown to boost weight loss. One study found that individuals who took daily calcium and vitamin D supplements were able to lose more weight than people who took a placebo. The reason behind this was the appetite-suppressing impact that the supplements had on the people in the study; the supplements made them less hungry, so they ate less and lost weight.
Stronger Bones and Muscles
We know that vitamin D has a strong ability to help assist in the maintenance of bone strength. However, analysis has shown that higher doses of vitamin D can actually help to osteoporosis and fractures from falling in older adults. Vitamin D has additionally shown promise in aiding physical strength, with analysis finding that it helps in both upper and lower limbs.
Can You Take too much vitamin D?
Like most vitamins, there’s such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” the normal blood serum levels of vitamin Dgenerallyvary from 50 to 100 micrograms per deciliter. Generally, the suggested IU per day for kids, teens, and adults up to age 70 are 600 IU. When it comes to adults over the age of 70, the quantity increases to 800 IU because the elderly are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.
According to the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the safe daily intake of vitamin D is 4,000 IU. Anything over that may be dangerous to the body and cause vitamin D toxicity.
Vitamin D Toxicity
Also known as hypervitaminosis, vitamin D toxicity may be a very rare condition. However, in contrast to vitamins like vitamin C, it’s fat-soluble instead of water-soluble. This means that the body has no simple way of getting rid of it, thus an excessive quantity of vitamin D can actually build up inside the body.
People with symptoms of vitamin D toxicity usually have levels above 150 ng/mL in the body. This is usually caused by an excessive dose of vitamin D supplements because it’s relatively difficult to get excess vitamin D from diet and sunshine alone.
Research has shown that a daily intake ranging from 40,000 to 100,000 IU for one to several months can cause vitamin D toxicity in humans. This condition is usually reversible, but severe cases of vitamin D toxicity can eventually cause kidney failure and calcification of the arteries if gone unchecked.
Vitamin D side Effects
One of the foremost common side effects linked to vitamin D toxicity is hypercalcemia, which is characterized by a buildup of calcium in the blood. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and weakness are all early symptoms of hypercalcemia. Further down the line, you may experience excessive thirst, an altered state of consciousness, high blood pressure, kidney failure, and kidney tube calcification, and hearing loss. it usually takes a couple of months to resolve hypercalcemia because of how slowly it’s released into the body, due to it being stored in the body’s fat.
While vitamin Dis vital for proper calcium absorption and bone metabolism so as to maintain strong bones, having too much may actually have the opposite impact. Contrary to most symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, bone loss may be a symptom that may happen due to large doses leading to low levels of the vitamin K2 in the blood. This is because vitamin K2 is important for keeping calcium in the bones and out of the blood; analysis has shown that very high vitamin D levels might reduce the activity of vitamin K2.
Difference Between vitamin D and D3
Sources of vitamin D
Vitamin D2 (chemically called ergocalciferol) can be found in the following food sources:
- Mushrooms grown in UV light
- Fortified foods
- Dietary supplements
Vitamin D2 is much cheaper to produce than vitamin D3 because it comes from plant-sourced foods, making it the way more commonly found form in fortified foods. Almost like how sunlight on the skin creates vitamin D3, UVB light exposed to plants and mushrooms forms vitamin D2.
Vitamin D3, with the chemical name cholecalciferol, differs from vitamin D2 because of its food sources. You can mainly find vitamin D3 in:
- Oily fish
- Egg yolks
- Dietary supplements
When your skin is exposed to sunlight, the type of vitamin D that’s made is vitamin D3. When it comes to effectiveness, vitamin D3 may actually be more effective at boosting the vitamin D levels in your body. This is because vitamin D3 once metabolized in the liver is able to yield much more of the main circulating form of vitamin D (called calcifediol). One study found that a single dose of vitamin D was nearly twice as effective as vitamin D2 in raising levels of calcifediol.