Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium and maintain strong bones. It also supports your immune system, brain, and nervous system. However, many people are deficient in vitamin D and may not be aware of its benefits or sources. Here are some things you should know about vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency is common and can cause various health problems
According to a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research, about 70% of Indians are deficient in vitamin D. This can lead to various health problems, such as:
- Bone pain and fractures: Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for bone health. Low levels of vitamin D can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, which are conditions that weaken the bones and cause pain and deformities.
- Fatigue and depression: Vitamin D is involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, and appetite. Low levels of vitamin D can cause low mood, fatigue, and depression.
- Infections and inflammation: Vitamin D modulates your immune system and helps fight off infections and inflammation. Low levels of vitamin D can increase your risk of respiratory infections, autoimmune diseases, and chronic inflammation.
Vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight, food, and supplements
The most natural and cost-effective way to get vitamin D is from sunlight. When your skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, it produces vitamin D. However, factors such as skin pigmentation, sunscreen use, pollution, season, and latitude can affect how much vitamin D you can make from sunlight. Experts recommend getting 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week.
You can also get vitamin D from some foods, such as fish, mushrooms, egg yolk, and red meat. However, these foods contain only small amounts of vitamin D and may not be enough to meet your daily needs. Therefore, you may need to take vitamin D supplements if you are deficient or at risk of deficiency. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for adults is 600 international units (IU) per day, but some people may need more depending on their age, health status, and lifestyle.
Before taking vitamin D supplements, you should consult your doctor and get your vitamin D levels checked. Taking too much vitamin D can cause toxicity, which can lead to nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, hypertension, drowsiness, cognitive impairment, and constipation. You should also take vitamin D supplements with other nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin K, and magnesium, to enhance its absorption and function.
Vitamin D has multiple benefits for your physical and mental health
Vitamin D is not only important for your bones, but also for your overall well-being. Some of the benefits of vitamin D are:
- Prevents osteoporosis and fractures: Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for bone health. Adequate intake of vitamin D can prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures in older adults.
- Boosts muscle strength and performance: Vitamin D plays a role in muscle function and metabolism. It can improve muscle strength, endurance, and balance, especially in older adults and athletes.
- Supports immune system and reduces inflammation: Vitamin D modulates your immune system and helps fight off infections and inflammation. It can protect you from respiratory infections, such as colds and flu, and reduce the severity of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
- Improves mood and mental health: Vitamin D is involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, and appetite. It can improve your mood, reduce stress, and prevent depression.