Important of Vitamin D-"The Sunshine Vitamin"
Vitamin D has a huge impact on the health and function of our cells. Worldwide 50% of the population is deficient of vitamin D. The term "vitamin D" refers to several different forms of this vitamin. Two forms are important in humans: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Vitamin D2 is synthesized by plants. Vitamin D3 is synthesized by humans in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from sunlight.
The sun contributes significantly to the daily production of vitamin D, and as little as 10 minutes of exposure is thought to be enough to prevent deficiencies. Vitamin D is found in many dietary sources, such as fish, eggs, fortified milk and cod liver oil.
People who are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency:
People with limited sun exposure, such as homebound individuals, women who wear long robes and head coverings for religious reasons and people with occupations that limit sun exposure are likely to be Vitamin D deficient.
People who have a naturally dark skin tone are prone to have more natural sun protection and require three to five times longer sun exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D than a people with a white skin.
Vitamin D synthesis is reduced by more than 95% in the skin if people wear a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30.
People with fat malabsorption. Vitamin D is fat soluble vitamin and requires dietary fat in the gut for absorption.
People who are obese or who have undergone gastric bypass surgery
Older people as they spent most their time in house and do not get enough sunlight.
Vitamin D and cancer:
Many studies have suggested a link between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of cancer. Vitamin D reduces cellular growth (which promotes cancer) and improves cell differentiation (which puts cells into an anti-cancer state). Vitamin D is one of the most potent cancer inhibitors. Its deficiency has been linked to colon, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer.
Vitamin D and Depression:
Vitamin D may help to increase serotonin level in the brain and helps with mood disorders. A Norwegian trial of overweight subjects showed that those receiving a high dose of vitamin D (20,000 or 40,000 IU weekly) had a significant improvement in depressive symptom scale scores after 1 year versus those receiving placebo. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is caused by decreasing daylight in the winter months. High doses of vitamin D during winter have been proven to be a very effective natural remedy for SAD.
Vitamin D and Infection:
Vitamin D plays an important role in the prevention of the common respiratory infections such as flu and cold. It also plays an essential role for activating immune defenses from T cells in the body. A randomized control trial in 2015 suggested that Vitamin D3 significantly reduce the risk of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in university students.
Vitamin D and Asthma:
More than two million people in Australia are suffering from asthma. It affects people of all ages. It is a lifelong lung disease that makes it difficult for breathing sometimes. Vitamin D helps to reduce inflammation in airways caused by asthma. Vitamin D also makes our immune system smarter; therefore less infection and less asthma attack.
Vitamin D and Autoimmune diseases:
Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune thyroid disease.
Vitamin D and Pregnancy:
Low vitamin D during pregnancy is a risk factor for the development of postpartum depression symptoms. Study found that Higher maternal circulating levels of 25(OH)D3 in pregnancy are associated with lower risk of developing ADHD like symptoms in childhood. Another randomized control trial found that improving Vitamin D3 status in pregnancy or early infancy may reduce the development of allergic disease in infants.
Vitamin D and Children:
Vitamin D plays an important role in children’s growth and development. It may help in the development of fetal lungs, brain and bone. A cohort study in 2015 from Pediatric found Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy was associated with impaired lung development, neurocognitive difficulties, increased risk of eating disorders and lower peak bone mass.
Vitamin D and fall & fracture:
The active form of vitamin D has an important role in calcium metabolism and in bone mineralization. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of falls in older adult patients. Without vitamin D, only 10–15% of dietary calcium and about 60% of phosphorus are absorbed. Vitamin D sufficiency enhances calcium absorption by 30–40% and phosphurs absorption by 80%.
Vitamin D has an important role in physical and mental development of our health. In order to enjoy wonderful benefits of Vitamin D such as, healthy bone, healthy immune function, better mood, less allergy and cancer prevention, make sure you have optimal level of Vitamin D. High dose Vitamin D can cause toxicity so, make sure that you have checked vitamin D level before taking any supplements. Don't forget to enjoy moderate sunshine several times a week.