Vitamin D: What Is It?
It’s a fat-soluble organic substance that occurs in eggs, fish-liver oils, etc. and is essential for the formation of teeth and bones. Vitamin D is primarily responsible for controlling the level of phosphorus and calcium in the human body.
These reasons are more than enough for you to ensure that you consume foods that are rich in Vitamin D. But there are also other vital functions as well as benefits that you can derive from intake of this essential vitamin.
The rest of this article will be devoted to the in-depth study of Vitamin D and its relationship with UV light.
Why Is Vitamin D So Essential to the Human Body?
- As mentioned earlier, it ensures that your bones and teeth grow strong and healthy. It helps your body to absorb the calcium it requires to develop healthy bones and even partakes in the building of bone density. By so doing, it minimizes the risk of rickets in children or fracture of bones in older adults.
- Not only does it assist bone growth, but it also contributes to the nutrition of cartilage, implying that it may play a significant role in preventing osteoarthritis. Additionally, it has been medically proven that when you consume calcium-deficient foods, it affects your nails negatively as well. As a result of the low rate of absorption of calcium, your nails may start chipping and peeling unceremoniously. You will find it hard to use nail dryers or apply nail art when this happens.
- Furthermore, it has been shown to lower the risks associated with falling, and it achieves this by improving the quality of your muscles and balance. For the most part, Vitamin D receptors which are always found in tissues indicate that this essential organic substance plays a significant role in the performance or functions of muscles.
- One of the prominent reasons for the loss of teeth is attributed to an ailment known as periodontal disease. This condition arises when the tissues around the root of the teeth have submitted to chronic inflammation which causes the gradual wearing away of the enamel (teeth) and the receding of the gums. But when you consume Vitamin D-rich foods, your teeth remain healthy as this vitamin effectively prevents the occurrence of inflammation or gum disease. Therefore, individuals who are deficient in Vitamin D run the risk of developing periodontal disease.
- It also enhances your immune system by preventing what is known as angiogenesis. This is a condition that arises as a result of the development of new blood cells. However, this occurrence is a critical factor in the growth of tumors. It can also inhibit the metastasizing of tumor cells and has been associated with reducing the danger of both pancreatic and colorectal cancer.
- It is responsible for increasing the production of T-2 cells and for decreasing the production of T-1 cells (which are in charge of autoimmunity). The T-2 cells help to regulate the actions of T-1 cells. It is believed that this is the immunity effect that explains why it may contribute to the prevention of the occurrence of type 1 diabetes.
- Moreover, the levels of it have been found to be very low in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system of people with Vitamin D deficiency is hyperactive which means that high levels can help in preventing rheumatoid arthritis.
- It also stimulates the production of insulin and also plays a part in insulin resistance. People who are obese, therefore, require an increased amount of this essential nutrient.
Daily Supplement Stack ? 1) 600mg EPA + DHA because I don't eat enough oily fish and omega 3 fatty acids are the absolute BEST for general health. 2) 2500IUs Vitamin D because I sit in an office all day long. 3) 5g Creatine Monohydrate because I play a sport that relies on repeated intermittent sprints and jumps. 4) Probiotics because even though we don't fully know which strain is best or how much we should be taking, there's enough evidence to support their use in digestive health (I also feel loads better when I take them, especially during busy periods where I feel a bit run down). 5) Multivitamin as a fail safe because even nutritionists get busy and can't quite eat the variety of nutrients needed to hit all of their daily micronutrients.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
It is a vital organic compound that is essential for the healthy development of the human skeleton and the bones in general, irrespective of sex or age. Just as infants need this vital nutrient, so do men and women of fifty years of age and above. However, the difference lies in the volume or amount that is required for each gender or group of people.
For instance, infants need it and ingest it from their mother’s breastmilk, thereby making their bones stronger and facilitates their growth. In the same way, women who are fifty years and above need more Vitamin D than men within the same age group. This is because the bones of old ladies tend to be weak which brings about increased incidence of hip fractures.
So when it comes to the question of how much Vitamin D the human body needs, the answers can only be given based on many different perspectives. But the answers generally depend on:
- Your location
- How old you are, and
- Your daily routine
Your location or locality goes a long way in determining how much your body needs. In the United States and Europe, for instance, the sun is virtually non-existent during the winter months. Since sunlight is the number one source, people living in these locations find little need for it during winter. But in Africa, where there is an overabundance of sunshine, the skin color of the majority of the people living on this continent is black.
This prevents their skin from readily converting the available sunlight into Vitamin D. Asians, on the other hand, have most of its population exposed to lots of sunshine which they utilize by turning it to Vitamin D that they require.
In the same vein, the occupation of individuals can determine how much Vitamin D they will require per time. People that work outdoors or in an open environment tend to get more Vitamin D as against people who work indoors or in an office with limited access to sunlight.
Infants and adolescents need nothing less than 400-1,000 International Unites (10mcg) on a daily basis. Older women, i.e., fifty years and above, need about 700-1,000 International Units per day. Men need about 400 International Units at best for their bodies to utilize the essential Vitamin D.
The following statistics as documented by the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is outlined below based on the latest scientific evidence that substantiates the vital role of calcium as well as vitamin D in skeletal health:
- 600 International Units for children, young people and adults 1-70 years.
- 400 International Units for babies/children 0-1 years.
- 800 International Units for adults 71+ years.
What Are the Primary Sources Of Vitamin D?
There are numerous sources where one can obtain vitamin D. A few examples are vegetables, the sun as well as supplements. But the best and significant source of this fat-soluble vitamin is sunlight which is the best for both non-vegans and vegans.
The human body is a wonderful machine that manufactures the vitamin as soon as sunlight hits it. All the human body needs are to be exposed to sunlight for just fifteen to thirty minutes every day, and it will be produced concurrently.
Food Sources of Vitamin D
It can be obtained from specific foods. The next few sentences will discuss particular types of foods where you can get this vitamin naturally.
Cod Liver Oil
This is one of the best sources of vitamin D.
This fish oil, which is extracted from the liver of the cod (a saltwater food fish), is also rich in vitamin D. Cod-liver oil is usually packaged in supplements and taken during winter.
This is because the winter season is usually overcast or cloudy, thus limiting the amount of sunlight that reaches the human body needs per time. As a result, you need to stock up your body by using supplements.
The best way to get your usual dose in winter is to take supplements, i.e., 1,000 mg of cod-liver oil capsules. If you don’t like capsules or pills, you can go for a tablespoon of the oil. But to maintain the freshness of this fish oil, make sure that you refrigerate it at all times.
Milk and its derivatives are dependable sources. This is the primary reason why breastfeeding mothers are advised to ensure that they feed their infants with adequate breast milk for sound growth and development.
Healthcare experts also recommend that growing children should consume as much milk and margarine as possible in their diets every day.
The human body needs to maintain good health, and that is why yogurt and all its derivatives are veritable sources. You can also eat bakery products such as pastries, bread, and cakes since they also contain an appropriate amount.
One of the most abundant sources of is the wild mushroom. These umbrella-shaped fungi grow well under sunshine and a jam-packed. This is why they are nearly always used as food ingredients in select cuisines around the world.
However, not all mushrooms are edible. In fact, some mushrooms are so poisonous that they can end a healthy man’s life within minutes after consumption. Therefore, you must be careful when it comes to selecting and eating mushrooms.
To be on the safe side, mushrooms that are carefully picked, packed, and made available in the market is the best option and can be included in your food to obtain it.
How Do You Get Vitamin D from The Sun?
Exposure to sunlight is the most important, natural source of this nutrition. Summertime is the perfect time for your body to stock it up.
Sunlight is generally composed of ultraviolet light made up of two unique UV bands: UVA and UVB. The latter is responsible for providing the vitamin D that the human body needs to thrive.
When UVB sunbeams hit your skin, there is a biological reaction that takes place which facilitates the production via your skin cells. If you have fair skin, the best time to get your daily dose is to expose yourself to sunlight at midday for at least ten minutes. You don’t need to apply any sunscreen when you do this.
If you are an outdoors person, or you go out every day and expose yourself to sunlight, no matter how minimal the sunbeams are, you will obtain a significant and healthy level. For people who are indisposed and are required to stay indoors, they should ask their physician to examine the levels of vitamin D in their bodies.
How Is Vitamin D Produced by The Skin?
It is synthesized or produced when ultraviolet rays react with a natural chemical substance that is present in the skin, called 7-dehydrocholesterol compound. To obtain high-quality vitamin D, it is imperative that the human body is exposed to UVB sunbeams with wavelengths that range from 270-300 nm.
The only way for sunbeams of such wavelengths to exist is when the UV index (i.e., an index indicating the strength of the sun) becomes more conspicuous. In the same way, the angle of the sun when it is positioned over the horizon plays a significant part in influencing the production of vitamin D. This is because the atmosphere becomes thicker at low points, thus absorbing more ultraviolet rays.
When the angle of the sun is slightly above 45 degrees over the horizon, it facilitates the production of vitamin D. However, recent studies have made it known that the creation of vitamin D can occur at low angles like 30 degrees.
At higher altitudes, the atmosphere is no longer thick enough to absorb useful ultraviolet rays from the sun.
The Use of UV Lamps for facilitating Vitamin D Synthesis
As mentioned earlier, the amount of UVB is considerably less during winter, and since this band of sunlight is responsible for vitamin D synthesis, it is highly crucial that you supplement or augment this vital nutrient in one way or the other.
This is why UV lamps or sun-lamps were invented. UV lamps radiate UVB sunbeams which enables you to obtain your daily measure at all times and in any area, irrespective of the weather condition.
It is not dangerous in any way as it emits the exact amounts of UVB sunbeams that your body needs per time and in the most natural way. This is the best option for people whose skins are excessively delicate and cannot expose themselves to natural sunlight.
In conclusion, Vitamin D can only be synthesized when there is sufficient amount of UV light of the right kind. When catching your regular dose, ensure that you watch and evaluate how you feel so that you can readily determine whether or not you have a health issue or shortcoming.
If you find that you are nearly always fatigued or drained, or you find it difficult to sleep as well as observe feeble immune reactions, it is highly recommended that you consume foods that have plenty of it.
Asides these observations, when it comes to health, one can never be too careful. The fact that getting sufficient amount every day helps to fight off autoimmune diseases and cancer should be more than enough motivation for you to take your health seriously.
Infographic: Vitamin D Sources