Sometimes it seems like we could be on a supplement overload if we followed all of the advertisements that are out there about vitamins and minerals! Too much information may have caused you just to ignore the subject all together. However, it is important to know what your body needs. Just what is vitamin D all about? Is it important to know about it? Hopefully this summary will answer these questions for you!
**This week’s Healthy Habit is meant to be only an informative overview of Vitamin D. Please consult a physician if you feel you are deficient or before you start to take supplements. **
What’s It Good For?
Though “vitamin D” refers to many different forms. The two forms discussed here will be Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 which are the forms that are important for humans. D2 is synthesized in plants and D3 is synthesized in the human skin.
- The major function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. This is what most people think of regarding vitamin D. It helps your body absorb calcium and thereby build and maintain strong bones. Without it, only 10-15% of dietary calcium is absorbed. – This is why you often see calcium supplements that contain vitamin D as well.
- Synthetic Vitamin D3 ointment has been found to help control skin cell growth and is used for moderately severe skin plagues. Also, high doses of a vitamin D analog is known to be beneficial in the treatment of psoriasis. (Please see this site for more in-depth information.)
- Reduce Heart Disease Risk
- Fight against colds and flu
- Reduce risk of developing diabetes
- Fights cancer (especially breast, colon, and prostate)
Am I Getting Enough?
- Those who are most at risk of a vitamin D deficiency are the elderly (due to a lack of sun), infants fed only breast milk without supplemental vitamin D or without the mother supplementing
- , those living in areas with only seasonal sunlight (the body is unable to produce sufficient amounts), and those with fat malabsorption syndromes (such as cystic fibrosis).
- The standard set in 2010 states that those ages 1-70 should be getting 600 IU (International Units) daily and those 71 and up should be getting 800 IU. (Please see this site regarding the doses for different diseases/deficiencies.)
- Again, please talk with your doctor if you feel that you should be taking supplements. It is possible to get too much vitamin D and actually increase your risk for fractures, falls, infections, etc.
Symptoms of Deficiency?
There are no set symptoms of deficiency because the body manifests it in many different ways. Some symptoms that have been reported include:
- Frequent infections
- Chronic pain
- Rickets – weak bones in children which leads to skeletal deformities and fractures later in life
- Osteomalacia (Adult rickets) – loss of bone mineral content resulting in bone pain, muscle weakness, and soft bones.
- Exacerbated auto immune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and common cancers
How do I know if I’m Getting Any? Here are the main sources:
- The SUN
- Fortified Milk
- Fortified Soy
- Cod Liver Oil
- UV irradiated mushrooms
I hope this gives you a little better understanding of the importance of vitamin D in your body (It does amazing things for you!) and why you should be informed about possible deficiencies.
All Information was Complied Using These Sources:
Mayo Clinic – Vitamin D – The Basics
Medical New Today – The Importance of Vitamin D and Problems Caused When Deficient
Office of Dietary Supplements (National Institutes of Health) – Vitamin D Fact Sheet
Vitamin D Council – About Vitamin D
Wikipedia – Vitamin D