Get facts about vitamin D- what is and why do we need Vitamin D? How to know about Vitamin D deficiency, its risks? Is excessive Vitamin D harmful? What are the sources of Vit-D? Also get list of Vitamin D foods!
We all know that many vitamins are needed by our bodies to function properly. Of late, however, the role of Vitamin D has come under focus and everyone seems to be talking about this Vitamin D! After all, why do we need vitamin D? What is vitamin D deficiency? How can we know if we have vitamin D deficiency in our bodies? How much vitamin D do we need and whether too much of vitamin D is harmful? What are the sources of vitamin D? Are there something called vitamin D foods? Let’s get answers to these questions and other facts about vitamin D?
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble hormone. It has two types or forms – Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is present in fungi and plants as well as fortified foods and in supplements. The source of vitamin D3 is sunlight- it is synthesized in human skin when exposed to UVB light generated from the sun. Vitamin D can also be found in fish oil.
Why do We Need Vitamin D?
The following list will clarify as to why do we need Vitamin D?
- We need Vitamin D for strong bones and teeth.
- It is required for normal absorption of calcium and phosphorus by bones which, in turn, reduces the risk of bone fractures and degeneration of bones.
- We need Vitamin D to prevent bone diseases. Weak bones lead to such diseases as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, rickets, arthritis etc.
- Vitamin D is also needed to keep the immune system functioning in proper way so that our body can resist various types of diseases.
The picture below very well explains the role of Vitamin D in various body functions and make it clear as to why do we need Vitamin D!
What is Vitamin D Deficiency and How to Know it?
Everyone needs to have enough of Vitamin D in body. If we do not have such enough amount of vitamin D in our bodies, it is termed as vitamin D deficiency. The table below tells about the optimum level of vitamin D in body of a child and an adult. These are the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) to know how much vitamin D do we need?
PersonVitamin D (IU/Day*)
Children up to Teen Age 600 Adults up to 70 years of Age 600 Adults of 71+ years of Age 800 Pregnant Women 600 Breastfeeding Mother 600 *IU= International Units
Whether you have Vitamin D deficiency or not can be known through the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. This has to be done through a blood test.
How does Vitamin D Deficiency Affect Us?
Vitamin D deficiency affects bones and various other parts of our body. Lack of vitamin D in growing children may lead to weaker bones that are not able to support their weight- a state called rickets. Vitamin D deficiency in adults can lead to soft bones also known as osteomalacia. Its deficiency can also result into loss of bone mass in adults leading to fragile bones or osteoporosis.
Who are at High Risk of Vitamin D deficiency?
Following segments of population run the highest risk of vitamin D deficiency:
- Aged people.
- People having dark skin.
- Obese people.
- People having or prone to kidney and liver diseases.
- People who do not get direct sunlight.
Is Too Much of Vitamin D Harmful?
Too much of vitamin D in body can lead to vitamin D toxicity. This might cause such states as nausea, mood changes and even organ damage. Therefore, one should not consume more than 4000 IU of vitamin D in a day. Children younger than 9 years of age should get even lesser vitamin D.
What are the Sources of Vitamin D?
There are three sources of getting Vitamin D- sunlight, Vit. D supplements and certain foods.
Sunlight for Vitamin D
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D as skin synthesizes this vitamin when exposed to UVB sunlight. However, one must be careful not to get harmful UV rays. For this, you should expose yourself to sun rays either in the morning or in the evening when the sun is about to set. Afternoon sunrays should be avoided.
Vitamin D Supplements
People who find it impossible to get sun rays and proper vitamin D diet should take vitamin D supplements available in the market. Aged people and those with darker skin should positively have vitamin D supplements as well as fortified foods (foods fortified with vitamin D like fortified milk and fortified yogurt.)
List of Vitamin D Foods
Following foods are good sources of vitamin D and thus one should include them into daily diet.
- Cod Liver Oil
- Fortified milk and yogurt.
- Fortified orange juice.
- Eggs, especially egg yolk.
- Fortified cereals like oatmeal.
- Swiss Cheese.
The above discussion makes it clear as to why do we need Vitamin D. We need this vitamin not only for strong bones and teeth but also to keep our immune system in proper working mode.Know More about Diet for Strong Bones