Vitamins play a vital role in the body, aiding in its smooth and healthy functioning. It is similarly essential to have enough vitamin D within the body to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Lack of vitamin D can result in making the bones soft, fragile and distorted among adults.
Where do we get from?
Your body gets most of the essential minerals and vitamins from the meals that you eat. However, hardly any food contains vitamin D naturally. The foods that do contain vitamin D only have small amounts, so it is almost difficult to get what your body needs just from food.
One of the most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight. The amount of vitamin D produced from sunlight depends on the location, time and the colour of your skin. The more your skin is exposed, the more vitamin D is produced.
With today’s technology, most people take a daily supplement of Vitamin D to add to what they gain from sunlight exposure. However, It is determined that we should get more than 90 percent of our vitamin D from daily sun exposure!
How your Body Converts Sunlight into Vitamin D
Your body can produce its own vitamin D3 when your bare skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. A chemical reaction takes place when the UV rays hit your skin, and your body starts transforming a pro-hormone in the skin into vitamin D.
During this process, a naturally formed 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) in your skin tends to absorb the UVB radiation and converts it into cholecalciferol. Cholecalciferol is the pre-vitamin form of D3. The pre-vitamin passes through the bloodstream to your liver, where the body begins to metabolize it, turning it into hydroxyvitamin D. Hydroxyvitamin is also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D. This metabolized vitamin develops into dihydroxyvitamin D in the kidney. Therefore, this is the hormone form of vitamin D that can be used by your body.
Vitamins D is the fat-soluble vitamin that dissolves in fat and are stored in body tissues.
Deficiency of Vitamin D: Signs and Symptoms
Going through a blood test is the only way to know for sure if you have a deficiency of vitamin D. Although, there are some signs and symptoms to be aware of.
- You Have Darker Skin
It is noted that African Americans are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency because of dark skin. A darker skin may require as much as ten times more sunlight exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D than a person with pale skin.
- You’re 50 or Older
With the growing age, your skin’s capacity to form vitamin D in response to sun exposure declines. At the same time, the kidneys become less efficient at developing vitamin D.
- You’re overweight or obese
Vitamin D being fat-soluble, body fat would act as a “sink” and collect it. If you are overweight, you will need more vitamin D than a slimmer person.
- Your Bones Ache
It is noted that people who suffer from aches and pains, especially in combination with fatigue, are actually showing symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. The deficiency creates a defect in placing calcium into the collagen matrix into your skeleton, which results in bone pain.
- Head Sweating
Having a sweaty head is one of the classic signs of vitamin D deficiency. Extreme sweating in infants due to neuromuscular irritability can be described as a common and early symptom of vitamin D deficiency.
Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Soaking Up the Sunlight: Your skin generates vitamin D3 when exposed to UV rays. Exposure of arms, legs or back for minimum 5 to maximum 30 minutes anytime between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. twice a week can help you achieve adequate levels of vitamin D.
- Foods Naturally High in Vitamin D: The best and natural food sources of vitamin D are oily fish, rainbow trout, halibut, salmon, including mackerel and tuna. Cod liver oil is an excellent source, providing 1,360 units of vitamin D in 1 tablespoon. A small amount of vitamin D is also available in egg yolks and cheese.
- Foods Fortified with Vitamin D: Foods often fortified with vitamin D includes milk, orange juice, yogurt, bread, cereals, and soy products, including tofu.
- Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D is easily available as a dietary supplement in the form of vitamins D2 and D3. While these two forms are regarded similar, evidence suggests that at high doses of vitamin D2 may be less potent than D3.
Connect with Dr Martina van der Mescht,