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The 5 Amazing Health Benefits of Vitamin D - the Sunshine Vitamin

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Table Of Contents

  • What Is Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D Hormone
  • Vitamin D Synthesis
  • Health Benefits Of Vitamin D
  • Who Should Take Supplemental Vitamin D and Why
  • Vitamin D And Osteoporosis
  • Vitamin D And Arthritis
  • Vitamin D And Fibromyalgia
  • Vitamin D And Acne
  • Vitamin D And Weight Loss
  • How Much Vitamin D To Take
  • Sources Of Vitamin D
  • References
  • A Good Hub
  • Some Of My Other Hubs On Health Topics

Sunshine Vitamin - D

What Is Vitamin D ?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It helps in the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Those people who are out in the sun for adequate time do not need to take supplemental Vitamin D, as sunlight helps in synthesizing this vitamin when bare skin is exposed to it.

There are 5 types of Vitamin D viz; D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5. Of these the human body can utilize 2 forms :

  • Vit D2 - Ergocalciferol
  • Vit D3 - Cholecalciferol

As per the data from NHANES, the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey, USA, 9 % of the child population in the USA, is vitamin D deficient.

Sunlight is our major source of vitamin D, then it's from the food we consume and if needed, from vitamin D supplements that we take.

The active form of vitamin D in the body is Calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxy cholecalciferol).

Calcitriol helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the food e eat. It also helps to reabsorb calcium in the kidneys, thereby increasing calcium levels in the blood. Calcitriol, thus, helps in bone mineralization and prevents low calcium conditions that can cause overactive neurological symptoms, cramps of hands and feet, spasms of the voice box. Calcitriol also is needed for keeping many organ systems working in top condition.

An exposure of 10 to 20 minutes on the uncovered skin (without sunblock) 2 times a week, is adequate for getting the required vitamin D3. Longer exposure has no added benefits as the excess is destroyed as soon as it is produced.

Fat is needed by the body to absorb vitamin D from the food we eat.

Vitamin D2 is not produced in our body in response to sunlight. However, Vitamin D3 is produced when sunlight falls on our bare skin.

Vitamin D is a Hormone

By definition, a hormone, is a chemical that is made in one organ, goes into the blood and affects another organ system.

The skin produces vitamin D. It is carried in the blood to the liver and kidneys for conversion to its active form and it then goes to the bones to strengthen them and intestines to help in calcium absorption. So, by definition, Vitamin D is a hormone.

Vitamin D Synthesis

Vitamin D is not an essential dietary vitamin requirement as in the presence of adequate sunlight, the body can synthesize it, as the cholesterol in the body reacts with the ultra violet rays of the sun, the UVB rays, to produce vitamin D.

Health Benefits Of Vitamin D

Vitamin D makes the bones strong and maintains its strength. It also regulates the immune system. It also aids in maintaining ideal body weight.

Some more important and beneficial benefits are that it reduces the risk of :

  • Heart disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Asthma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Damage due to low levels of radiation

Who Should Take Supplemental Vitamin D And Why ?

Supplemental Vitamin D should be considered, when and by those ;

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  • Whose exposure to sunlight is less as they live much further away from the equator.
  • Who work indoors most of the time and those with limited exposure to the sun's rays due to their clothing.
  • There is a lot of cloud cover making it impossible to get sunlight.
  • The atmosphere has a lot of smog.
  • Sunscreens are used. A sunscreen of SPF 8 can reduce vitamin D synthesis by as much as 95%.
  • Who are affected by fat malabsorption... This syndrome is associated with diseases like liver disease, Crohn's disease etc.

Under all these conditions, adequate vitamin D is not being synthesized as per the reasons mentioned. One is thus bound to develop a deficiency of vitamin D. Such persons have to have it from vitamin D supplements.

Also, the elderly and those with dark skin should consume extra vitamin D.

5 amazing health benefits of Vitamin D are :

1. Vitamin D And Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become thin and weak due to a decrease in bone mass and density. Therefore as one ages, osteoporosis becomes more common and so do fractures and broken bones.

Vitamin D not only build stronger bones but also improves muscle function thereby increasing the balance of the body. This reduces the chances of falling down and sustaining fractures.

Thus, Vitamin D and osteoporosis have a deep relationship with one another.

2. Vitamin D And Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints caused by a breakdown of cartilage, leading to stiffness and pain on movement. It is not a single condition and has more than 100 conditions that come under its umbrella.

Many studies have shown that those with osteoarthritis, of the hip and knee especially, had low blood levels of vitamin D.

Another study showed the crippling effects of vitamin D deficiency in those affected with rheumatoid arthritis.

It is believed that vitamin D benefits by either interacting with the immune system or by affecting the joints directly to relieve the painful conditions.

One reason pain in arthritis is severe is because arthritis affected people do not get enough exposure to sunlight. Therefore, to get adequate vitamin D in the body it is best to take vitamin D supplements along with as much sunlight that one possibly can to reduce and possibly eliminate arthritis pain.

3. Vitamin D & Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome, not a disease. It is a chronic state of body-wide pains accompanied by fatigue, insomnia, early morning stiffness, impaired memory, anxiety, depression and abdominal complaints. The joints, muscles and tendons and soft tissues become inflamed and painful.

Many studies indicate that those with fibromyalgia also have lower vitamin D levels. Even people with anxiety and depression have been found to have low vitamin D levels.

Studies indicate that vitamin D reduces inflammation in fibromyalgia by reducing the production of the inflammation-causing protein, cytokine.

4. Vitamin D And Acne

Acne is a very common skin infection that affects adolescents the most. The scars it leaves, in severe cases, many times do not ever go away. Acne also causes inferiority complex in many young people. Among all skin diseases, acne accounts for almost one third.