Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

woman stares at the sunrise
Vitamin D is widely known as the “sunshine vitamin” due to the fact that the body easily synthesizes it from sunlight. (Photo by ZephyThor)

Vitamin A, B, C and E are generally the nutrients that garner the most attention when it involves the question of general well being. Vitamin D or the “Sunshine Vitamin” is often neglected. However, it is absolutely essential for good health. Its benefits go beyond maintaining strong bones and we’ve have discussed some of them below.

The Benefits of Vitamin D

Stronger Bones

The skeletal framework made up of bones needs calcium and phosphorus for their growth and development. Vitamin D improves calcium absorption from the food you eat, giving you stronger bones and muscles. In its absence, the body starts sourcing calcium from the bones and depositing it into your bloodstream.

A deficiency of Vitamin D in adults increases the risk of fractures due to brittle bones. It may also reduce bone density. In children, it could result in rickets, a condition characterized by bone deformities (bowed legs and knocking knees). Vitamin D is especially beneficial to menopausal women, who are more likely to develop osteoporosis.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys Myelin, the protective cover of the nerve fibers across the brain and spinal cord. This disrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body resulting in weakness and blurred vision. Recent studies claim that Vitamin D can help for multiple sclerosis.

Builds the Immune System

Vitamin D increases one’s resistant against various types of disease. Thus, you are in a position to recover faster from illnesses. It also prevents the onset of infections.

Diabetes and Cardiac Health

It can act as your weapon against cardiac problems. It lowers blood pressure and reduces the chances of heart disease. There is also evidence of the link between Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) and low levels of Vitamin D. Increasing your dosage helps improve insulin sensitivity.

(Photo by Jasmine Kaloudis)
(Photo by Jasmine Kaloudis)

Weight Loss

If you are struggling to lose weight, Vitamin D could be the answer. An added dose of vitamin D coupled with a calorie-restricted diet facilitated faster and easier weight loss. It helps curb appetite too.

Along with the benefits listed above, Vitamin D also ensures healthy teeth. It is known to reduce the risks of women-specific cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer.

Are you at a risk of Vitamin D deficiency?
A few people tend to be at a higher risk of a Vitamin D deficiency because of the region they live in and the diet they eat. You are more likely to suffer a deficiency if:

  • You are a strict vegetarian
  • You have darker skin
  • You live far away from the equator, colder climates
  • You suffer intestinal disorders such as celiac disease

Natural Sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. The D-group vitamins include D1, D2 and D3. The body, the skin to be exact, synthesizes Vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. Get your daily dose of Vitamin D by spending 10-15 minutes in the sun, early morning.

Speaking about food sources, Vitamin D is mainly present in animal products. Servings of salmon, trout, mackerel, swordfish, sardines, tuna and shrimp contain a healthy amount of Vitamin D. It is also present in beef liver and egg yolk. Vegetarians can eat cereals, yogurt and milk fortified with Vitamin D to get their daily requirement of this nutrient.

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