What is Vitamin D
Fat-soluble vitamin D (or calciferol) is found in limited amounts in nature, is added to many processed foods, and is sold as a dietary supplement. Vitamin D is synthesized endogenously when exposed skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Vitamin D from the sun, food, and supplements is biologically inactive and needs to go through two hydroxylations in the body to become active. The first hydroxylation happens in the liver and changes vitamin D into 25-hydroxyvitamin D, also called “calcidiol.” The second hydroxylation happens mostly in the kidneys. It makes 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], also called “calcitriol,” which is a physiologically active form of vitamin D.
- Reduces Blood Pressure
- Decreases All-Cause Mortality
- Reduces Fat Mass
- Decrease Inflammation
- Reduces Frequency of Asthma Attacks
- Improves Insulin Sensitivity
- Lessens Risk for Multiple Sclerosis
- Increases Testosterone in Men
Getting enough of this vitamin may also help you stay healthy by protecting you from the following diseases and maybe even helping to treat them. Some of these conditions are:
- High blood pressure and heart disease.
- Infections and immune system disorders.
- Falls in the elderly
- Some types of cancer, such as colon, prostate, and breast cancer,
- Multiple sclerosis.
Reasons for deficiency:
- What you eat doesn’t provide nearly enough vitamin D.
- You don’t absorb enough vitamin D from the food you eat (this is called malabsorption). You don’t spend enough time in the sun.
- Your liver or kidneys can’t change it into a form that your body can use.
- You take medicines that make it hard for your body to change vitamin D or absorb it.
Rickets is a disease that children get when they don’t get enough vitamin D. It causes bones to be weak, muscles to be weak, bones to hurt, and joints to be deformed. This rarely happens. But children who don’t get enough vitamin D can also have weak muscles or muscles that hurt and are sore.
Adults don’t notice as much when they don’t get enough of this vitamin. Some signs and symptoms could be:
- Bone pain.
- Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps.
- Mood changes, like depression.
Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?
Some people are at higher risk of this vitamin deficiency:
- Breastfed infants, because human milk is a poor source of it. If you are breastfeeding, give your infant a supplement of 400 IU of it every day.
- Older adults, because your skin doesn’t make it when exposed to sunlight as efficiently as when you were young, and your kidneys are less able to convert it to its active form.
- People with dark skin, which makes it harder for the sun to make it.
- Because fat is necessary for absorption, people with Crohn’s disease or celiac disease have impaired fat absorption.
- People who are overweight, because some vitamin D gets stuck in their body fat and can’t get into their blood.
- Those who have had gastric bypass surgery
- Those who have osteoporosis
- have been dealing with renal or liver issues for an extended period of time.
- People who have hyperparathyroidism have too much of a hormone that controls how much calcium is in the body.
- People with granulomatous diseases like sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, histoplasmosis, or another one (disease with granulomas, collections of cells caused by chronic inflammation)
- Some cancer patients have lymphomas.
- People who take medicines that change metabolisms, such as cholestyramine (a cholesterol drug), anti-seizure drugs, glucocorticoids, antifungal drugs, and HIV/AIDS medicines.
Foods To Eat To Get Vitamin D.
This vitamin is not found in many natural foods. Some of the best sources are the flesh of fatty fish (like trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils. The amount of vitamin D in an animal’s tissues is affected by what it eats. It can be found in small amounts in beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese, mostly as vitamin D3 and its metabolite 25(OH) D3. Vitamin D2 can be found in different amounts in mushrooms. Some mushrooms on the market have had UV light shined on them to make them have more vitamin D2. Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the green light for UV-treated mushroom powder to be used in food products as a source of vitamin D2. Very little evidence suggests that the bioavailability of vitamin D from different foods doesn’t differ much.
There are a few foods that naturally have some vitamin D:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
You can also get it from fortified foods. You can check the food labels to find out whether a food has vitamin D. Foods that often have this vitamin added include:
- Breakfast cereals
- Orange juice
- Other dairy products, such as yogurt
- Soy drinks
Vitamin D is in many multivitamins. There are also supplements, both in pills and a liquid for babies.
Can too much be harmful?
Too much of this can be bad. This is called vitamin D toxicity. Signs of toxicity include feeling sick, throwing up, losing your appetite, having diarrhea, feeling weak, and losing weight. The kidneys can also be hurt by too much vitamin D. It also makes your blood have more calcium in it. High blood calcium levels, called hypercalcemia, can cause confusion, disorientation, and problems with the way the heart beats.
Most people get too much vitamin D when they take too many supplements. Vitamin D poisoning isn’t caused by too much sun because the body limits how much of this vitamin it makes.
- Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org)
- Vitamin D – Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
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