Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the human body absorbs it by exposure to sunlight. It acts like a hormone, stimulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the intestines. This vitamin can be found in mackerel, salmon, tuna, beef liver, diary products, eggs, calcium-fortified fruit juices, canned pilchards, margarine, breakfast cereals, egg yolks and mushrooms enriched with vitamin D.
Synthesis in the skin involves UVB radiation, meaning that our body generates vitamin D in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight. Sunlight exposure is the only way to produce vitamin D in our own body.
This vitamin is found in several forms: vitamin D1, D2, D3, D4, D5. Our body needs ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Studies have shown that Calcitrol, the active form of vitamin D prevents cancer and autoimmune diseases.
People who have dark skin often present vitamin D deficiency, but preserve better vitamin B. Because of this, they are more predisposed to fatal cancers, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and rickets. Light skin allows more sun absorption, leading to a higher production of vitamin D. However, sun exposure is dangerous for our body, so the best is to take supplements of vitamin D.
Why is vitamin D so important? Well, this vitamin maintains healthy bones and reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis, obesity, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, rickets, osteoporosis (reduced bone mineral density and increased bone fragility) and kidney disorders. Vitamin D deficiency leads to abnormal softening or thinning of the skull, osteomalacia, periodontal disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, seasonal flu and more.
Vitamin D is fat soluble, insoluble in water and very sensitive to light and oxidants. This vitamin is recommended in case of rickets, rheumatism, tetanus, pregnancy and lactation, delayed consolidation of fractures, acne and eczema. Vitamin D is beneficial for those suffering from stress, fatigue, back pain, hypercholesterolemia, allergies, fragile bones and teeth, irritability, sensitivity to pain, cramps, bronchitis, nasal bleeding, etc.
Hypervitaminosis D produces hypercalcemia and may lead to restlessness, anorexia, thirst, nausea, itching, diarrhea, etc. Vitamin D toxicity can also cause pruritus (itch) and renal failure. To avoid these side effects, you should ask for medical advice before taking supplements of vitamin D.
People suffering from atherosclerosis, kidney stones and nephritis shouldn’t take vitamin D supplements. It’s important to know that some medications may interfere with this vitamin, causing side effects.
Studies have shown that a proper intake of vitamin D reduces the risk of cancer, prevents high blood pressure and protects us from sclerosis or schizophrenia. Also, it helps us live longer. Daily supplements of vitamin D and calcium reduce stress during exercise. Other studies revealed that a higher dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D correlates with lower incidence of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. It was proved that this vitamin has a key role in helping the brain to keep working well in later life.
Vitamin D plays an important role, being essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Your daily menu should contain foods rich in this vitamin. In case you want to take supplements, ask for the advice of a doctor. Vitamin D toxicity occurs rarely, but the best is to prevent any possible side effects and complications.