Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that the body requires to function normally. This nutrient is often associated with bone health. It helps maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorous in the body which contribute to healthy bones.
Research suggests that this nutrient also plays a vital role in the function of our immune, nervous, and muscular systems.
Deficiency of this nutrient leads to insufficient calcium absorption from the diet. In this situation, the body must take calcium from its stores in the skeleton, which weakens existing bone and prevents the formation of strong, new bone.
You can get this vitamin in three ways: through the skin, from the diet, and from supplements. Experts recommend that up to the age of 70 years, a daily intake of 600 IU (International Units) is necessary. People over the age of 70 should increase their uptake to 800 IU daily.
The Institute of Medicine recommends no more than 4,000 IU per day for adults. However, sometimes doctors may prescribe higher doses.
There are many foods sources including egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and fortified milk. Some of the ready-to-eat cereals are also fortified with this vitamin.
The sun is a very efficient source as well. It is estimated that direct sun on your skin may make as much as 20,000 IU of vitamin-D in only 10-15 minutes.
For optimum production, aim for 2 sessions (at least an hour apart) of 10-15 minutes with at least your face and arms exposed to the sun.
Many of the health benefits comes as a result of the effects that it has on improving bone health and immune system function. Some of the main benefits include:
A deficiency usually stems from poor depleted diets, a lack of exposure to sunlight or both.
Any symptom of low levels of this nutrient is hardly noticeable until blood levels get very low. Over time, this results in demineralization of the bone – a condition known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
Some studies have even suggested that deficiency of this nutrient might be linked to diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, heart and vascular disease, arthritis, and asthma.