The Sunshine Vitamin D

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin as it is also known, is a vital nutrient with a huge influence on the body. It is essential for healthy bones as it helps the body to absorb calcium.

Vitamin D is part of the fat soluble secosteroids, with two main forms, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is obtained in the skin following exposure to direct sunlight or artificial sources with ultraviolet B light. It can be also naturally found in a number of foods.

 

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency can cause very dangerous disorders. There are various vitamin d deficiency symptoms, which will tell you that you really are vitamin D deficient.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are as follows:

The list is not complete and symptoms also might be cancers, chronic pain, diabetes, multiple sclerosis or heart diseases .

Main Causes for Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Lack of time spent on sunshine
  • Low cholesterol level (as cholesterol is needed for the skin to convert sunlight into vitamin D).
  • Intake of certain medications (some medications will stop body ability to produce vitamin D).
  • Very large or obese body (larger body simply requires more vitamin D).
  • Magnesium deficiency (Magnesium is needed for vitamin D to be converted into its active form, lack of magnesium prevent this process thus you are becoming vitamin D deficient).
  • Low fat diets (in order to absorb vitamin D the body needs to have fat (vitamin D is fat-soluble)).
  • Older age (As we are getting older, our skin is losing capability to produce vitamin D as once we were young. In order to preserve same amount of vitamin D produced, we should increase the time spent outdoor).
  • Dark skin (Dark skin blocks ultraviolet rays to reach the cells responsible for making vitamin D in the skin thus people with dark tan experience more vitamin D deficiency).

Additionally there are further serious causes provoking vitamin D deficiency. One of these causes is fat malabsorption, meaning the body can not absorb fat. People diagnosed with health conditions, particularly with digestion problems are likely to have problems with vitamin D absorption too.

If your liver is too toxic, meaning your liver can not efficiently eliminate the accumulated toxins, it will not be able to efficiently convert vitamin D to its active form. Alcoholics are especially endangered because large probability of damaged liver.

Just because there is so many possible causes, most of the people catch low vitamin D levels. This produce state of vitamin D deficiency, which means that your body is not getting sufficient amounts of vitamin D from foods, direct sunlight and/or vitamin D supplements.

Many people are certain they are getting enough vitamin D from sun, food and multivitamin supplements, but the truth is they do not, and to figure it 25-hydroxyvitamin D test is best way to confirm your vitamin D status.

Benefits of Vitamin D

Several researches and studies reveal the numerous benefits of vitamin D. actually, you might be surprised by the importance of vitamin D for your health.

Vitamin D maintains the calcium balance of your body. The maintenance of proper blood calcium level is very important for the adequate functioning of the nervous system, bone growth and also for the maintenance of normal bone density.

It helps your cell differentiation, which refers to the specialization of cells for defined functions in your body.

The active form of vitamin D has its role in insulin secretion in the case of high insulin demand. Deficient vitamin D level could have a harmful effect on insulin secretion.

Vitamin D strengthens your immunity, as it is a powerful immune system modulator.

A proper vitamin D level could be vital for decreasing potential high blood pressure.

A low vitamin D level reduces the absorption of calcium and contributes to osteoporosis. A proper vitamin D level will maintain the strength of the bones and can prevent osteoporosis.

Diagnosis of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Hypovitaminosis D can be easily diagnosed by means of a simple blood test for determining serum levels of 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D.

This test is done via a single prick sample of your blood and reports are available same day through Dr P Bhasin PathLabs (P) Ltd.

Vitamin D and Diabetes

A recent study suggests that insufficient vitamin D level could be a significant factor in developing diabetes. According to the research from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, there is a connection between Type 2 diabetes and vitamin D deficiency.

The conclusions are rather obvious, and vitamin D supplementation will not cause any harm.

Vitamin D and Cancer

Several researches have been conducted to determine the possible role for vitamin D in effectively preventing cancer.

Laboratory studies also revealed a possible protective role of vitamin D against cancer. The vitamin D encouraged cancer cell differentiation and death and it also delayed their proliferation.

Random clinical trials – regarding the effects of vitamin D supplementation on bone health – indicated that an increased vitamin D intake could reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Several observational studies have examined the possible connection between higher vitamin D levels and lower cancer risk, especially breast and colorectal cancer.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression

Vitamin D is  also helpful in fighting depression and some other mood disorders. Some researchers believe that decreased exposure to sun, resulting in vitamin D deficiency, is in direct connection with depression. Numerous studies also revealed that there is a connection between seasonal affective disorder, severe depression, premenstrual syndrome and vitamin D.

It is considered that vitamin D stimulates the serotonin level of the brain, which could affect the depressive symptoms. Seasonal affective disorder – SAD – might also be influenced by vitamin D deficiency. According to some conducted studies, vitamin D has a greater effect than light therapy in people with this disorder. The seasonal affective disorder is most frequent during the winter time, when the rays of the sun are very weak.

Vitamin D and Chronic Backache

Clinical trials published by the medical company “Pain Treatment Topics” showed a relation between chronic backache and the lack of vitamin D. It is known that vitamin D is crucial for the proper formation and strength of bones. Its lacking results in weaker bones, which in turn affects back support. People with a vitamin D deficiency experience fatigue, osteoporosis and muscle pain which can all affect a person, causing the pain to become chronic.

Hypertension

The  mechanism of effect of vitamin D and calcium on blood pressure is not fully  understood. The authors hope that the administration of both formulations may  increase the effects of drugs used to treat hypertension.

Vitamin D Food Sources

You might not be aware of it, but only a few foods are vitamin D sources, unless it wasn’t artificially added to it. That is due to the fact that our organism is programmed to get vitamin D from sunlight through the skin and not by food. However, once your body got sufficient vitamin D, it has absolutely no importance if you got it by food or through your skin.

The richest food in vitamin D is salmon ; mackerel; and mushrooms exposed to UV light for a higher vitamin D level.There are also other natural sources of vitamin D, including cod liver oil (it also contains a lot of vitamin A, which could be bad for your health, if it is consumed in excess), sardines canned in oil, tuna canned in water, beef or calf liver, cheese, egg yolks and milk or yogurt fortified with vitamin D.

Since most of these items are not a part of our daily diet in India, we are turning out to be a highly Vitamin D deficient population.

Vitamin D Deficiency Treatment

Vitamin D deficiency treatment can be applied in various ways, which can be combined in cases of critical vitamin D deficiency.

The vitamin is available in mainly two forms: ergocalciferol (D2) and cholecalciferol (D3). People suffering from vitamin D deficiency are treated to get the same level of the forms of the vitamin D in the body. The vitamin D deficiency treatments include:

Direct Sunlight Exposure

Dietary Intake – Regular consumption of natural foods, such as beef liver, cow’s milk soy milk, eggs, fish and fish oil, which are rich in vitamin D, can efficiently treat and prevent vitamin D deficiency.

Dietary Supplementation – Dietary or vitamin supplements can be found in vitamin D2 and D3 supplements to treat vitamin D deficiency.

Medication – Vitamin D deficiency can also be treated with various forms of medications and injections.

Prior of taking any of these treatments, a medical practitioner should be consulted as overdose of vitamin D can represent a significant health hazard.

Our experience with Vitamin D and Indian Population.

When Vitamin D testing was initially started and was prescribed by doctors to patients, majority of patients were testing deficient or insufficient.

Nowadays, we find atleast 20% samples being reported as sufficient and upon studies for our academic purpose we have observed that these people were those who had tested deficient earlier in our lab or elsewhere and are now testing sufficient after supplementation.

We believe most of our population is Vitamin D deficient and needs supplementation.

But Hypovitaminosis D should be first established and then supplementation through medication started after prescription from a registered medical practitioner since excess supplementation is also dangerous and an established medical condition.

Our Suggestion

Get a Vitamin D test done today and feel the change in those minor symptoms you have been facing all throughout and have not been diagnosed as of yet.