Almost everyone has heard of vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates and proteins and all of this stuff. That does not mean, of course, that everybody knows which does what so let’s clear things out a little bit. Today we are going to talk about Vitamin D. This is a particularly essential vitamin, because there are very few foods that can deliver it, which makes it hard to come by. It is one of the reasons for which we have expanded our life span over the years. Most of this is because we have researched into all of these essential nutrients that our body desperately needs and improved our eating diets accordingly. Vitamin D is especially important since it has so few sources that we needed to create ways to get it into our system, especially since our organism craves for it. Vitamin D really is a fat-soluble vitamin that it is mostly found in various supplements, but that you can also harness from ultraviolet rays coming from the sunlight. What actually happens is that whenever the sunlight strikes your skin, you will immediately charge with Vitamin D, but this is only the first step in the process. You see, Vitamin D, aside from the fact that is a bit scarce, it is also hard to trim down, because it is biologically inert. What it needs is to be subjected to two hidroxylations processes inside your body in order to become active. This is where your liver comes in and that is where Vitamin D is transformed into 25-hydroxyvitamin D. This product is also commonly known as calcidiol. What comes next will be taken over by the kidneys and the outcome is called 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D. The popular name for it is calcitriol.
Ok, so straight to the point. But, before selecting the most Vitamin D active foods, you need to be aware of the fact that there is extremely low the number of foods containing Vitamin D and this is why you have to look for them if you want your body to get all the benefits coming from it. Probably the most potent and reliable sources of Vitamin D that you can naturally find is the fat fish flesh. Here we must include such fish as salmon, tuna and mackerel. Also, you can find some Vitamin D, although not enough, in beef liver, cheese and some mushrooms, but not all of them. But in order to provide you with a larger list for Vitamin D filled foods, we have to enumerate some of the most popular and reliable of them. So, here are the most usual food sources of Vitamin D:
- Orange juice
- Nonfat milk, or that contains low fats
- Tuna, best served in water cans, will provide you with decent amounts of this vitamin
- Swordfish, usually cooked, will offer enough of this vitamin for a consistent meal
- Cod liver, probably not the most expected sources, but one of the most consistent in Vitamin D
- Sardines, this time in oil cans, have a decent level of this vitamin
- Beef liver, also a highly efficient source
- Some cereals, preferably integrals
- Swiss cheese
This is not an exhaustive list and you should look for other Vitamin D sources if you are unable to reach these ones. Also, you need to be able to combine all of these foods, because in some this particularly vitamin is easily detectable, whereas in other there is not enough quantity to satisfy your body’s necessities. If you could vary your diet and get benefits from all of these foods, then your benefits will be huge.
This is an important addition and everybody should keep in mind that consuming Vitamin D, as well as other nutrients, can easily backfire and provide you with plenty of unwanted results that may impact your health in the opposite way. This is also the case for Vitamin D and there are many cases when exceeding the recommended daily dose led to the well-known side effects that cause your health to start declining. You should consume Vitamin D moderately and never exaggerate, because that is not a smart thing to do. Also, there is the other side of the party and that is Vitamin D deficiency which is also known to cause some serious side effects and we should look into those, especially since we have established that this vitamin is not easily accessible. First, let’s have a look at some of the most widely known Vitamin D deficiency diseases and those are rickets and osteomalacia. The first one is especially serious since it is a common disease found in children and it is characterized by the bone’s failure to mineralize. This Vitamin D deficiency caused disease can have a meaningful impact in the future development of the skeleton and will cause softer than usual bones and various skeletal deformities that may aggravate as the child grows old. It is also hard to deal with and rectify once the subject has reached the adulthood. This disease has been discovered in the mid 17th century by British scientists and it was only 2 centuries later that the German physicists ordered the consumption of cod liver oil to reverse the rickets’ side effects. And it was the 1930s that had the most impact in treating this affection, once it has been agreed that the milk should be fortified using Vitamin D. This measure almost eradicated the disease, but there are still some cases once in a while.
Osteomalacia, another Vitamin D deficiency disease is widely spread among the adults and it is also known to be linked to weak bones, bone pain and muscle weakness. The problem with this affection is that it usually goes unknown in its early phases. When the actual effects start to set in, the Vitamin D deficiency will have already done its damage and osteomalacia will have become active.
Another important Vitamin D associated deficiency problem is osteoporosis. The difference between these diseases is that, when talking about this vitamin deficiency, the first two affections are the extremes and are not that spread. On the other hand, osteoporosis is caused mainly by the lack of calcium in your organism, but calcium is also strongly linked to the Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is the one causing osteoporosis, because a satisfying level of Vitamin D will help your system in retaining more calcium and this will help you avoiding such problems like osteoporosis. You have to remember that there are approximately 40 million Americans who either manifest dangerously low levels of Vitamin D or can develop osteoporosis, or that already have this deficiency and osteoporosis is already installed. And that is only in the US, not to mention worldwide, where more and more people each day suffer from Vitamin D deficiencies.
As we have already mentioned, this particular vitamin is a fat soluble vitamin, containing D1, D2 and D3. It is also known that it can affect around 2000 of your genes, which is why you need to take good care of the Vitamin D sources and be aware of anything that can provide you with reliable Vitamin D sources. Also, Vitamin D is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin”, due to the fact that its primary source is sunlight. When talking about Vitamin D benefits, we need to take into consideration that its primary benefit is the fact that Vitamin D eases the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and these two elements can influence your immune system. But there are others benefits related to its consumption as well and I would like to enumerate the most important ones:
- Consuming Vitamin D within the prescribed limitations can help you reducing the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. This is what a 2006 study found out.
- Vitamin D consumption is also related to reducing your heart disease and this is another priceless asset when taking Vitamin D
- It can reduce the risk of contracting the flu, because it will strengthen your immune system
- It is known to reduce your risk of developing serious chronic diseases such as cancer
- It will strengthen your skeletal health and your physical performances
Despite being a vitamin, Vitamin D can also have serious side effects when used excessively and this is why you need to pay attention to what your body tells you whenever considering taking Vitamin D supplements. Also, it will be better if you would consider consulting a specialist’s opinion before taking on any Vitamin D supplementary diets. Any vitamin, when exceeding the daily dosage, can become poison to your system and this is exactly how Vitamin D also functions. When exaggerating with Vitamin D consumption you can develop affections such as anorexia, weight loss, polyuria and various heart arrhythmias. But there are also other ways through Vitamin D excess can affect you and that is through the calcium levels in your blood flow. Vitamin D can increase these calcium levels and will lead to further heart damages and kidney affections. You don’t have to worry about excessive sun exposure, for instance, because that is not a way to get Vitamin D in excess. The reason for that is that the high temperatures on the surface of your skin will break down some of the Vitamin D that comes in and will only permit a decent amount of Vitamin D to actually go through.
The applications for this vitamin are moderated outside the food industry, but there are some that we need to take into account. You wouldn’t thought that there may be other ways to use a vitamin like this one to actually impact the clinical industry. But let’s analyze what this is all about. You see, there have been discovered several Vitamin D uses in the treatment of several diseases and disorders like: immune dysfunction, hyperproliferative diseases, endocrine disorders and some metabolic bone affections that are most commonly spread among the population. Also, several other potential applications are thought to help treating some types of cancer and osteoporosis, but the trials are still at their beginning, so it is a subject that we need to take a close eye on.