Vitamin D: A Comprehensive Guide : NUTRABAY™

Vitamin D: A Comprehensive Guide

Vitamin D is one of the essential vitamins critically required by us. This fat-soluble vitamin is unique because it can be made in the skin on exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D exists in two forms – D2 (present in plant-based vitamin D sources) and D3 (present in animal-based vitamin D sources and synthesized naturally in the human body).

We can also obtain vitamin D through diet or supplements. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardine and codfish, egg yolk, mushrooms, fortified milk, orange juice, breakfast cereals and yogurt are a few vitamin D foods. Getting enough vitamin D each day can be challenging through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements is an excellent way out. 

Vitamin D Benefits

Vitamin D is required for normal mineralization of bone, muscle contraction, nerve conduction, and general cellular function in all body cells. Let’s understand in detail why one must never compromise on vitamin D.

  1. Strong bone and dental health: Ensure that your vitamin D levels are adequate if you want your bones and teeth to be strong and healthy. It stimulates the absorption and resorption of calcium in the small intestine, which otherwise will get excreted by kidneys, promoting a healthy calcium level. 
  2. Support bone mineralization: Our bones contain a lot of mineral matter like calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, etc. Deficiency of any of these can weaken our bones and increase osteoporosis risk. Vitamin D is needed to maintain healthy calcium and phosphorus levels. Low vitamin D levels can increase susceptibility to fractures and injuries if you are an athlete or gym-goer.
  3. Boost immune health: Vitamin D can regulate innate and adaptive immune responses. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity and increased susceptibility to infections. Not to miss, vitamin D supplements were a part of the treatment during Covid-19 to strengthen the immune system. 
  4. Minimize heart disease risk: Researchers suggest that adequate vitamin D intake reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disorders by regulating the renin-angiotensin system, decreasing blood coagulation, and exhibiting anti-inflammatory properties.
  5. Lower diabetes risk: Vitamin D encourages healthy blood glucose levels by improving insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Hence, it is beneficial for type 2 and type 1 diabetes people.
  6. Anti-inflammatory: Vitamin D may attenuate inflammation by inhibiting the proliferation of inflammatory cytokines. Vitamin D treatment reduced disease severity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma.
  7. Healthy brain functioning: Vitamin D is considered neuroprotective. The risk of multiple sclerosis, cognitive impairment, dementia, psychosis and depression increases during decreased vitamin D levels.   
  8. Improve sleep quality: If you experience trouble sleeping, it could be due to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is needed to produce Melatonin – the sleep hormone required to regulate human circadian rhythms and sleep.
  9. Strong muscles: Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for muscle health, especially if you are a bodybuilder, athlete or active person aiming to gain muscle size and strength. Vitamin D reduces muscle damage; promotes skeletal muscle regeneration and recovery.
  10. Support weight loss goals: Studies revealed that people with high body fat have lower vitamin D levels. An association between vitamin D and more significant weight loss has also been observed. 

Vitamin D Deficiency

Studies suggest that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in India ranges between 80-90%. Many people have low vitamin D levels but not enough to be classed as deficient in the vitamin. If your vitamin D levels are above insufficient levels but still below the normal, it is still safe to top up your vitamin D even in the absence of any symptoms.

Before we talk about symptoms in detail, let us discuss some vitamin D deficiency causes:

  • Less sunlight exposure.
  • Excess use of sunscreen lotions.
  • People with dark skin as high melanin content reduce the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight.
  • Inadequate Vitamin D-rich foods intake.
  • High pollution levels.
  • Breastfeeding.
  • Spending more time indoors.
  • Ageing as our skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D decreased with age.
  • Reduced ability to absorb dietary fat in the body. Being a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D requires fat for its absorption.

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms

These are some symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency:

  • Poor immune health
  • Fatigue
  • Bone pain
  • Back and joint pain
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Muscle pain and loss of strength
  • Hairfall
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Rickets in children and Osteoporosis in adults (in case of prolonged deficiency)
  • Frequent infections
  • Weight gain

Vitamin D Normal Range 

Here is the classification of vitamin D range in our blood.

  • Normal Vitamin D level: Between 30-50 ng/ml.
  • Vitamin D deficiency: Less than 20 ng/ml.
  • People prone to deficiency: Between 20-30 ng/ml.
  • Vitamin D toxicity: More than 100 ng/ml.

Vitamin D Requirement 

The daily requirement of Vitamin D for Indians as per ICMR RDA:

  • Infants: 400 IU or 10 mcg/ day.
  • Children: 600 IU or 15 mcg/ day.
  • Adults: 600 IU or 15 mcg/day.

Vitamin D Dosage and Side Effects

Vitamin D deficiency treatment involves including sources of vitamin D in the diet and vitamin D supplements. However, you will find ample supplement variety in the market with varied strength and recommended dosage. 

One must avoid excess intake of supplements to prevent vitamin D toxicity. The dosage of vitamin D supplements might vary from person to person, depending upon existing vitamin D levels. Therefore, it is safe to take medical advice before starting the supplement. These are some vitamin D side effects of over usage:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  •  Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Metallic taste
  • Vomiting
  • Calcification of bones
  • Hardening of blood vessels, lung, heart and kidney tissues

To sum up, vitamin D plays a crucial role in keeping us healthy. Hence, it is necessary to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. Even if you follow a nutritious diet, you may require supplements to attain optimal blood levels.

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