Saturday, 8 February 2014

Vitamin D – How Much It Helps Our Immune System?

Vitamin D is a nutrient that supports the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is needed for health and to maintain strong bones. It supports breast, colon and prostate health, and contributes to the maintenance of a healthy mood. People who are not getting enough vitamin D may develop soft, thin, and brittle bones, a condition known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. 

 Watch a video below by 91177info  about Vitamin D:

Vitamin D Benefits

Vitamin D is found in two different forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Both increase vitamin D in the blood. Both boast properties beneficial to our bone, tooth, muscular and immune health. It helps the movement of muscles and the immune system needs vitamin D to fight against bacteria and viruses. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps to protect older adults from osteoporosis.

Vitamin D Foods

Very few foods naturally have vitamin D. Some of them are:
  • Animal meat, eggs, fish oil and dairy products. Beef liver is one of the best sources of vitamin D.
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna.
  • Mushrooms provide some vitamin D.
  • Infants can get vitamin D through formula milk. Mother’s milk is very important, but it is not high in vitamin  D.
Vegetarians do not consume any of these foods, but they can opt for fortified cereals, energy bars or dietary supplements that are enriched with vitamin D. The body makes vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun, and most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs this way. However, despite the importance of the sun to vitamin D synthesis, it is prudent to limit exposure of skin to sunlight in order to lower the risk for skin cancer. People who avoid the sun or who cover their bodies with sunscreen or clothing should include good sources of vitamin D in their diets or take a supplement.

Deficiency of Vitamin D

People can become deficient in vitamin D because they don't consume enough or absorb enough from food or their exposure to sunlight is limited, or their kidneys cannot convert vitamin D. Some categories of people are not getting enough vitamin D required by the body and these groups are:
  • Breastfed infants, since human milk is a poor source of the nutrient.
  • Older adults, since their skin doesn't make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Their kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form.
  • People with dark skin.
  • People with disorders such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease who don't handle fat properly, because vitamin D needs fat to be absorbed.
  • Obese people, because their body fat binds to some vitamin D and prevents it from getting into the blood.

In children, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, where the bones become soft and bend. In adults, vitamin D deficiency leads to osteomalacia, causing bone pain and muscle weakness. Vitamin D has possible connections to several diseases including diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis. As you get older, you are at risk of, osteoporosis, where bones become fragile and may fracture if one falls. It is one consequence of not getting enough calcium and vitamin D over a long term. Some studies show that vitamin D may protect against colon cancer and cancers in prostate and breast.

Toxicity of Vitamin D

Excess amount of vitamin D is harmful and it will cause nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, and weight loss. It may also cause confusion, disorientation, and problems with heart rhythm. Excess vitamin D will make damage to the kidneys.

There is also an important difference between the two forms of vitamin D. While D3 can be manufactured naturally by exposure of the skin to sunlight, D2 is found only in plants. Therefore, D3 (cholecalciferol) deficiency can be avoided by taking a Vitamin D supplement that contains ‘cholecalciferol’.

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