SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed about articles, events, and updates from Wellness Impact.
Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed about articles, events, and updates from Wellness Impact.
Vitamin D is something that most of us have heard about or came across with, and for good reason. It is a powerful vitamin that is essential for overall health. Sufficient amounts of Vitamin D in the body can result in a lot of health benefits. On the other hand, having low vitamin D levels can lead to physiological imbalances and several negative conditions.
This article will discuss all the essential things you need to know about Vitamin D.
According to the National Institutes Of Health, it is a fat-soluble vitamin that is present in relatively few dietary sources. Unlike vitamins B complex and C which dissolve in water and is readily absorbed by the bloodstream, vitamin D dissolves in fat. This means that during digestion, vitamin D derived from food gets absorbed in the digestive tract along with fat and is stored by the body until it is utilized.
The body naturally produces vitamin D through a process called synthesis. Ultraviolet rays from sunlight, when it strikes the skin, triggers this natural production process. Sun exposure, therefore, has a big role in the endogenous production of this vitamin. Hence, it is also referred to as the ‘sun vitamin’. Dietary sources and supplementation are also recommended in cases where sufficient exposure to morning sun rays isn’t possible.
Vitamin D is a highly essential nutrient for several important body processes. For example, it plays a key role in the absorption of calcium in the body, among many others. This is indispensable in maintaining bone health, sturdy teeth, and preventing osteoporosis.
Without enough vitamin D from natural, dietary and supplementary sources, bones can become brittle and can weaken early on in life.
This vitamin also plays an important role in maintaining good mental health. According to a study cited by Healthline, researchers and experts have found a link between depression and vitamin D deficiency. Depression, in turn, can lead to low blood levels. This is especially more prevalent in older people who have a relatively lower endogenous production of the said nutrient.
Aside from maintaining stellar bone and mental health, here are some of the benefits of Vitamin D on the body.
According to the Mercola website, Vitamin D prevents the proliferation of abnormal cell growth, thus making it a key agent in cancer prevention. It helps cells go through the normal process of proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis (or natural cell death).
Another medical study linked vitamin D to a heightened protection of the body from influenza viruses. The way it helps the body is through strengthening the immune response to fight off flu viruses. More studies are being conducted about the effect of vitamin D on infectious diseases. With the advent of novel flu viruses, such as Covid 19, the role of vitamin D as a first line of defense in fighting viral infections will become even more clear.
Medical News Today highlighted a study that showed vitamin D can help mothers have smooth sailing pregnancies. Low levels of vitamin D correlated with a higher risk of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and preterm birth. Sufficient levels of the vitamin in an expecting mother can reduce chances of developing such adverse complications.
Vitamin D stimulates the pancreas to make insulin which the body will use to metabolize sugar. Without insulin, there is no way for the body to absorb glucose into the cells. This leads to high levels of sugar in the blood, and conditions that result in chronic diabetes. Accompanied by a healthy low to moderate carb diet, vitamin D can help prevent the above problems.
An article from the Mayo Clinic suggests that vitamin D has a direct effect on improving cognitive health. This is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia and Parkinson’s disease later on in life.
The vitamin can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, and preventing heart attacks or strokes. Low vitamin levels in the blood resulted in a 153% increased risk of getting a heart attack, according to Eco Watch.
A study of 116 healthy adults with an age range of 20 to 74 years old showed that vitamin D derived from sunlight helped increase muscle mass in women. Although the same effect is not seen on men, the role of the vitamin for muscle improvement is worth considering.
Earlier, we mentioned how vitamin D can help fight off flu viruses. This is because it boosts the immune system response and gives the body a stronger defense against infection.
According to the Clinical Therapeutics website, this is how vitamin D plays a role in the body’s natural defenses:
White blood cells, the body’s “military army” that defends against foreign bodies and pathogens, is full of vitamin D receptors. Upon production or intake of vitamin D in the body, it binds to the white blood cells and help facilitate many processes necessary for cell survival. One of these processes is identifying foreign bodies or pathogens, and killing them.
Another way by which vitamin D and immune system work together is by helping reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. This leads to lesser toll on the body during metabolic processes.
Lower oxidative stress is linked to a lower risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. On the other hand, eliminating inflammation from the body will assist in preventing cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarctions, strokes, and atherosclerosis.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a sufficient level of vitamin D increases the likelihood of a pregnant woman to have a healthy, full term pregnancy. Women who have difficulty conceiving and giving birth successfully are routinely checked for low Vitamin D levels. A low level of this vitamin is one of the risk factors for infertility and other related health issues.
However, the important thing to remember for vitamin D supplementation is proper intake in reasonable amounts. Excessive intake may also cause problems, and can be as bad as having a deficiency of the vitamin.
The study highlighted by the Cleveland Clinic showed that out of 193 women who have vitamin D deficiency and trying to conceive, 108 women became pregnant in 12 months after vitamin D supplementation. This further supports the view that vitamin D can assist reproductive processes.
The benefits of vitamin D for fertility are as follows:
According to a study highlighted by Medical News Today, having excess belly fat is linked to low levels of Vitamin D. While a deficiency of the vitamin is not the main case of obesity, but it is one of the contributors to adding those extra fat around the waste area.
Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is the hardest type of fat to get rid of from the body. It is a result of prolonged unhealthy diets, stress, hormonal imbalance, and a high sugar intakes. Having a larger waistline can also be a risk factor for diseases like heart attacks, diabetes, stroke and cancer.
The study mentioned above discovered that as the amount of belly fat grows, vitamin D levels tend to go down. This could mean that obesity and being overweight is correlated to the level of vitamin D in the body.
Although scientists are still studying the causal relationship between weight loss and vitamin D deficiency, or whether one causes the other and vice versa, it is sufficient to note that there is a close association between them. Actions must then be taken by the individual to reduce belly fat through proper diet and exercise, and take the best vitamin D supplement to meet the recommended daily intake. This ensures that there is a two-pronged approach to solving the problem.
Here are other ways by which vitamin D can aid in losing weight:
An article published in WebMD showed the main causes of a lack of vitamin D. A lot of people are deficient in vitamin D without even knowing about it. As in the case with a lot of nutrient deficiencies, an individual may be unknowingly suffering from it for a long period of time. It is only when certain medical conditions arise that the need for supplementation is addressed.
Here are some of the main causes of vitamin D deficiency:
The above causes of vitamin D deficiency, except pre-existing medical conditions, can be solved by supplementation of the vitamin.
There are specific warning signs or symptoms that a person is deficient in vitamin D. Here are some of them:
According to Healthline, up to 50% of the world’s population does not have sufficient vitamin D due to a lack of exposure to sunlight. Interestingly, there are limited dietary choices of vitamin D compared to other nutrients. Individuals with a deficiency of the vitamin (or trying to avoid low levels of it) can get it from the following vitamin D foods:
According to Harvard Health Publishing, taking a vitamin D3 supplement is good but overdoing it can have adverse health effects.
The best way to get vitamin D natural exposure to sunlight, as well as acquiring it from dietary sources. However, some people may live in conditions that limit their sun exposure and access to foods rich in vitamin D.
In such cases, it is important to get a vitamin D supplement only with advice from a doctor or a professional nutritionist. People with pre-existing health conditions should consult a medical expert before starting supplementation of a vitamin. This ensure that the individual is getting the right amounts and not over-supplementing.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin D for most people is only 600 to 800 IU (with 1,000 IU still acceptable but considered slightly higher than normal). This should already include amounts produced by the body through sunlight, dietary sources, and supplements.
Vitamin D has a lot of health benefits, and it is free for everyone to acquire in the form of sunlight and natural food sources. With a growing awareness today about pandemics and infectious viruses, vitamin D could be the missing piece that will help the world fight contagion. Its benefits for boosting the immune system is well-documented by many scientific studies.
Furthermore, its role in fighting obesity, infertility, pregnancy complications, and cardiovascular problems makes it one of the most potent nutrients to consume for overall health.