Vitamin D is a group of five prohormones (Vitamin D1 to D5), which help the body in a variety of ways, particularly in regards to the bones and teeth. It was discovered in the 1930’s by a scientist performing studies on canines that were raised without exposure to sunlight.Within a few years, Vitamin D was isolated (along with Vitamin D3), and it was immediately used to treat rickets in children.
Vitamin D is produced when the body is exposed to direct sunlight. Therefore, in countries with low sun levels, or high smog levels, vitamin D deficiencies may be more prevalent. To counteract these deficiencies, many countries provide fortified milk products to help people get their daily recommended dosage of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D Benefits
Below is a list of just a few of the benefits of Vitamin D. As studies continue, scientists and researchers care constantly finding more ways in which Vitamin D is beneficial to the human body.
• Bones and Teeth: Vitamin D plays a key role in regulating the absorption of calcium into your body. This in turn helps with the growth and maintenance of your bones and teeth, promoting strength and density.
• Immune Modulator: Vitamin D works with your immune system, keeping it healthy and helping prevent any autoimmune disorders.
• Insulin Secretion: Studies have shown that Vitamin D plays a role in insulin secretion, and may one day play a major role in the cure for diabetes.
• Osteoporosis: Directly related to its relationship with calcium (above), Vitamin D intake can significantly help in preventing post-menopausal osteoporosis, promoting bone strength and density.
• Cancer: Studies have shown that Vitamin D may play a role in the prevention of some forms of cancer (particularly colon, colorectal and prostate cancers).
• Alzheimer’s Disease: Although there is no proven link between Vitamin D and Alzheimer’s disease, recent studies are showing great progress in noting how Alzheimer’s appears to affect more seniors who do not get adequate amounts of direct sunlight.
Vitamin D Food Sources
Vitamin D can be found in a plethora of meat and dairy related foods. Below is a short list of Vitamin D food sources:
• Cod liver oil
• Salmon or mackerel (cooked)
• tuna fish or sardines (in oil)
• Milk (includes non-fat, reduced fat, whole and of course Vitamin D fortified milk)
• Margarine (fortified)
• Egg yolk
• Liver or beef (cooked)
• Swiss cheese
• Fortified cereal
Vitamin D Deficiency
A deficiency in Vitamin D is usually the result of poor diet, impaired absorption or increased secretion. Deficiency due to diet usually occurs due to milk allergies or lactose intolerances. Peoples who get very little direct sunlight also deprive their body with the ability to produce Vitamin D.
The most common symptom of Vitamin D deficiency is rickets. Before Vitamin D was discovered, rickets was very prevalent in children throughout the world. Since the discovery of vitamin D, rickets is all but extinguished in first world countries and generally prevalent in Asian, African and Middle Eastern descendants (due to differences in their Vitamin D metabolism). Vitamin D deficiencies in adults can also lead to bone weakness, osteomalacia, and severe pain in both the muscles and bones.
Vitamin D Overdose
Taking too much vitamin D can be toxic. Excessive Vitamin D intake has been known to cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, weakness, and weight loss. In some excessive cases, Vitamin D overdose can cause heart rhythm abnormalities and confusion. You cannot overdose on Vitamin D by over exposure to the sun.