Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin obtained from sunlight exposure, food and supplements, which improve the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Calcium and phosphorus are important for bone mineralization and bone health.
There are 5 forms of vitamin D, but only 2 matters to us.
- Vitamin D2 – ergocalciferol
- Vitamin D3 – cholecalciferol
Sources of Vitamin D
The body synthesizes vitamin D3 when it gets enough sun exposure. UVB radiation from the sun occurs at wavelength of 290-320 nm. The amount of UVB radiation depends on season, time of the day, length of the day, cloud, smog, the amount of sunscreen and skin pigmentation. UVB cannot pass through glass. So, exposure to sunlight indoor does not product vitamin D.
Wild fish that feeds on plankton are rich in vitamin D. Wild salmon, sardine, herring, tuna, mackerel and catfish are good examples. Mushrooms and egg has a small amount of vitamin D.
Vitamin D can be found in supplements and fortified food. However, you have to be careful not to overdose on the supplement and stay within 41-80 ng/dl. High dose of vitamin D can lead to heart beating too fast and irregular.
What are the benefits of vitamin D?
1) Bone health
Vitamin D is important for promoting the absorption of calcium in the gut and helping maintain calcium and phosphorus concentration in the blood. Calcium and phosphorus are 2 important elements for the mineralization of the bone. Deficiency can lead to osteoporosis.
Vitamin D protects against various forms of cancer, in particular, colon cancer. A research published in The Internal Journal of Epidemiology by Garland CF from John Hopkins University showed that there is increase incidence of colon cancer mortality in areas least exposed to sunlight in USA.
3) Muscle composition
Low level of vitamin D cause an increase in accumulation of fat through muscle tissue, which reduce muscle strength and reduce physical performance.
Vitamin D is the key regulator of calcium metabolism and calcium plays an important role in nerve firing and nerve triggering muscle contraction.
Vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy body weight. Obese people with Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30 are associated with lower blood vitamin D.
Vitamin D trigger immune factors and increase their activities preventing infection and inflammation.
6) Cardiovascular health
When vitamin D level is too low, we increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. Vitamin D helps the heart muscle to heal after a heart attack.
Are you getting enough vitamin D? If you do activities in the outdoor on a regular basis and eat a healthy diet of the vitamin D rich food, you should be all right. Otherwise, do get some supplements but make sure you do not overdose.
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