Do you have a vitamin D deficiency? We tell you how you can get your dose from natural sources and of course, supplements.
What is vitamin D?
It is a fat soluble vitamin which is needed for bone strength in human body. It is stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Did you know that this is why overweight people are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency? The fatty tissues absorb the vitamin and prevent it from being used within our body.
The vitamin D absorbed from sun or other sources must undergo two hydroxylation in the body for activation. One occurs in liver to form calcidol and other in kidney to form calcitriol.
Why do we need vitamin D?
Vitamin D has many roles including the modulation of cell growth, nuero muscular and immune function and reduction of inflammation. But the main function of all being promotion of calcium absorption.
You need sufficient vitamin D for calcium absorption in the gut and for the maintenance of adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentration. This is important for the mineralization of bone and to prevent hypocalcemic tetany.
Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become brittle, thin or misshapen. Vitamin D prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Together with calcium, vitamin d also helps protect older adults fr osteoporosis.
How do we get vitamin D?
Recommended dietary allowance (Average daily intake to meet the nutrient requirements) for vitamin D ranges from 400-1000 IU/day for kids and 600-5000 IU/day for adults.
Very few natural foods contain vitamin D. Some sources are
1) Sun exposure
2) Fishes like swordfish, salmon and tuna and fish liver oils
3) Diary products like milk, yogurt, egg, Swiss cheese
4) Dietary supplements.
5) Raw milk
7) Portabella and Maitake Mushrooms
You should try and spend at least 10 to 20 minutes of time in the sun. Lighter skinned people can aim for less time, and darker skinned people should try and get more sun time. An hour of exposure to sunlight will give you around 1000IU of Vitamin D. Remember though that being out in the sunlight isn’t enough. You should try and get your dose from other sources to meet your daily requirement.
Groups at risk for vitamin D deficiency
Breastfed infants, older adults,post menopausal women, people with limited sun exposure, people who are obese and dark skinned are at risk of vitamin D inadequacy.
More than 40 million adults in U.S are at risk of osteoporosis.
While our childhood days had endless outdoor activities, children these days suffer due to lack of space, security and in some cases extreme weather conditions. This has resulted in immigrants from Asia, Africa and middle East developing rickets, possibly because of genetic differences in vitamin D metabolism and vitamin D deficiency.
During menopause, the balance between the process changes result in more bone re-absorption.
You cannot get Vitamin D only from your diet. You can absorb animal based vitamin D more easily than plant derivatives. So in most cases, especially if you are a vegetarian, vitamin D deficiency is more rampant and you need supplements. You can take them as capsules, tablets or drops. Vitamin D council recommends taking vitamin D3 rather than vitamin D2. It’s highly essential to follow the recommended levels as excess consumption can result in adverse reactions.