Lacking the Sunshine Vitamins: Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is particularly essential for bone health and functioning of the immune system in our body. Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium and phosphorus, and maintain strong bones and teeth.
Vitamin D is derived from endogenous sources and exogenous sources.
· Endogenous source or Natural source: It is produced in our body on exposure of our skin to sunlight.
· Exogenous source: Dietary source of the vitamin D includes fish, eggs, fortified dairy products and dietary supplement.
To summarize, the best sources of vitamin D are sunshine, fish, egg yolks, fish liver oils, fortified foods and vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D is also known as sunshine vitamin as it is naturally produced on exposure of the skin to sunlight. The process of formation of Vitamin D on exposure to the sun is complex if we consider the exact mechanisms. A simplified explanation for this complex process is that when the bare skin is exposed to UV-B rays (present in sunlight), a cholesterol derivative (7-dehydrocholesterol) present in the skin gets converted into vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The liver converts cholecalciferol to calcidiol, which is then converted to calcitriol (the active chemical form of the vitamin) in the kidneys.
You should also know that the use of excessive sunscreen can block UV-B rays from the sun resulting in decreased synthesis of vitamin D. But excessive exposure to UV radiation from sunlight may also cause premature ageing, burns and may increase your risk of developing some forms of skin cancer. In case you are Vitamin D deficient, you can treat this condition by getting more Vitamin D through diet and supplements. Increased exposure to sunlight also helps as Vitamin D is produced in our body on exposure of skin to sunlight.
Consult your doctor to know about how much Vitamin D supplements you need to take, how often you need to take it, and how long you need to take it in case you are Vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D requirements depend on a number of factors like age, race, geographical location, season, sun exposure etc. A daily Vitamin D intake of 1000–4000 IU, or 25–100 micrograms, should be enough to ensure optimal blood levels in most people.
Excess supplementation of Vitamin D can result in Vitamin D intoxication. Vitamin D levels can easily be monitored by a simple Vitamin D blood test.
Some of the common symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include:
– Frequent bone fractures due to thinning and brittle bones
– Bone and back pain
– Frequent infections
– Mood swings
– Anxiety or depression
– Feeling exhausted. tired
– Impaired wound healing
– Hair loss
– Muscle pain
But, prolonged Vitamin D deficiency can result in serious health conditions like Osteomalacia in adults, Rickets in children and Osteoporosis.
Osteomalacia is a characteristic feature of vitamin D deficiency in adults. Osteomalacia is softening of bone due to demineralization (the loss of mineral) and most notably by the depletion of calcium from bone. Vitamin D deficiency in children can result in Rickets. Rickets results in softening and bending of bones. Osteoporosis is a condition of fragile bones with increased susceptibility to fracture. Vitamin D and calcium deficiency are one of the leading cause of osteoporosis.