Why We Need Vitamin D – Functions, Sources and Deficiencies
Wondering why we need Vitamin D? Well, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has several important functions in the body, one of its main responsibilities being to develop and calcify the bones. Although most people get enough of the vitamin from exposure to sunlight and consuming fortified dairy products, vitamin D deficiency is a problem in some populations. Read on to learn more about why we need Vitamin D and the important roles it plays in your body and how to get enough into your diet.
As stated above, vitamin D is extremely useful for the bones. It helps to absorb dietary calcium and phosphorus from the intestines, as well as suppress the release of parathyroid hormone, a hormone that causes bone reabsorption. Vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and cancer. Research has suggested that it can also help to prevent several autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis.
Natural and Dietary Sources
The main and most natural source of vitamin D is, in fact, sunlight. Sunlight triggers the body to synthesize the vitamin. However, because of the risks of skin cancer, only 10 minutes of sun exposure a day is recommended for vitamin D production. Individuals who do not get adequate sunlight, including those who live in the north, may need to supplement to provide their bodies with enough of it. The most popular dietary source of Vitamin D is fortified milk. Certain bread products and cereals may also be fortified with Vitamin D. The best way to know how much is contained in a product is by checking the food label. Other dietary sources of Vitamin D include: cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, tuna fish, and sardines.
The main reasons for low levels of Vitamin D are:
• Lack of Vitamin D in the diet, often in conjunction with inadequate sun exposure
• Inability to absorb Vitamin D from the intestines
• Inability to process Vitamin D due to kidney or live disease
Symptoms of deficiency include: bone pain or tenderness, dental deformities, impaired growth, increased bone fractures, muscle cramps, short stature, and skeletal deformities.
Infants, children, and elderly individuals are at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency, otherwise known as Rickets. Those who are deficient usually treat it by taking supplements. The recommended dose of vitamin D is determined on an individual basis.
That's why we need vitamin D! Remember, all you need to do to make sure your body gets enough vitamin D is to get enough sunlight. You can enjoy the outdoors while also providing your body with benefits!