Doctors always recommended that newborn babies should be exposed to sunlight as it will make their bones strong and increase their density. Also, it is recommended that old age people should expose themselves more and more to the sunlight in order to keep the bones strong. Have you ever wondered why it’s so? You are just going to find it.
What is Vitamin D and Where it comes from?
Vitamin D was first discovered by Sir Edward Mellanby in Great Britain at a time when there was a high prevalence of rickets in the UK.
It is important because sunlight contains vitamin D which is quintessential in several body functions to work properly. This amazing vitamin is abundantly available through sunlight and we can even get it from certain foods and supplements as well. This is a fat-soluble vitamin and due to all these properties, this vitamin is also known as “sunlight vitamin”.
This vitamin prevents many diseases like multiple sclerosis, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, or even heart diseases.
Before looking into further benefits of this vitamin, let’s have a glance at the types of vitamin D.
Types of Vitamin D
Vitamin exists in two different types:
- Vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol
- Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol
Both these types are collectively called Calciferol.
The chemical structure of vitamin D2 was formulated in 1931 and that of vitamin D3 was characterized in 1935.
Food sources of Vitamin D
Apart from direct sunlight, vitamin D is also found in certain vegetables but in some foods, it is added as a fortification. The amount of vitamin D present in foods are as follows:
|Cooked egg yolk||0.7 IU/g|
|Beef liver (cooked)||0.15 IU/g|
|Fish or cod liver oil||100 IU/g|
|Tuna (canned)||2.7 IU/g|
Foods that are fortified with vitamin D include fruit juices, energy bars, certain cheese products, infant formulas, breakfast cereals, and milk.
RDA for Vitamin D
The following RDAs of vitamin D have been placed by the Institute of Medicine and for different age groups:
|0-6 months||200 mg|
|6-12 months||260 mg|
|1-3 years||700 mg|
|4-8 years||1000 mg|
|9-18 years||1300 mg|
|19- 50 years||1000 mg|
|Pregnant and lactating women||1000 mg|
Benefits of Vitamin D
Now let’s look at the tremendous benefits of this amazing vitamin.
1. Bone Strengthening Ability
When we expose ourselves to sunlight, vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut, and this absorption elevates the mineralization of bones. From this fact, it is proven that vitamin D is helpful in bone growth and strengthening which ultimately prevents the bones from becoming brittle. When vitamin D is taken orally along with calcium, it aids in preventing osteoporosis. In children, vitamin D deficiency can cause Rickets, which causes softening of bones and results in bowlegged bones. In the same way, the deficiency of vitamin D causes softening of bones called Osteomalacia in adults. Hence, vitamin D maintains the calcium and phosphorus levels within the body which leads to the strengthening of bones and increase their density.
2. Healthy Infants
A study conducted in 2018 revealed that children that are deficient in vitamin D, suffer from stiffness in arterial walls which causes high blood pressure. Another research showed that children who are less exposed to sunlight, are more vulnerable to get allergies like flu or asthma, as compared to children who are more exposed to sunlight. As eggs are the most primary source of vitamin D, children should be introduced to eggs in their diets when they are at the age of 4-6 months. Apart from all these, vitamin D also prevents inflammation in children and infants.
3. Healthy Pregnancy
During pregnancy, if any woman is deficient in vitamin D, she is likely to develop preeclampsia as well as can have premature births. A study in 2019, found that vitamin D deficiency in women can cause gestational diabetes and bacterial vaginosis.
4. Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
Though this result is not conclusive, a small study showed that vitamin D helps prevent type 1 and 2 diabetes. A study published in 2006 revealed that when 800 IU of vitamin D is taken along with 1200 mg of calcium, it is very much effective in lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.
5. Battles Depression
Vitamin D plays a vital role in warding off depression and regulating mood. It also greatly eliminates anxiety and brightens up the mood. According to research conducted in 2017, found that there is a direct relationship between vitamin D intake and depression. People who take vitamin D supplements daily on regular basis, largely reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
6. Helps in Weight Loss
Want to lose weight and additional fats from your body? All you need to do is add vitamin D supplements along with calcium in your daily diet because this amazing vitamin D greatly reduces weight. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2009, resulted that if obese or overweight women take calcium along with vitamin D on daily basis, sheds off the extra fats from their bodies because this vitamin has an “appetite-suppressing effect”. This effect also aids in lowering the risks of several heart diseases as overweight people tend to suffer more from different cardiovascular diseases.
This vitamin D has no specific side effects when taken in the recommended amount but when consumed in large quantity, it may cause the following problems in some people:
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Metallic taste
- Nausea or vomiting
Although vitamin D supplements help regulate our mood swings, depression, weight loss, diabetes but when the level of vitamin D increases more than the recommended allowance it can cause elevated blood calcium levels, nausea, vomiting, toxicity, and poor appetite. So moderation should be kept in mind as this astounding vitamin D is quintessential in maintaining important functions of our body.