Thursday, 27 February 2014

Functions and Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is also known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” because we get most of this vitamin from exposure of the skin to sunlight. 

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which means that any excess that the body doesn’t need to use straightaway is stored by the body for future use and so therefore you do not necessarily have to in-take it every day.  Vitamin D is stored chiefly in the liver, although some is stored to a lesser extent in the skin, kidneys, spleen and other tissues.

How do we get Vitamin D from the sun?

Ultraviolet sunrays act on cholesterol / oils in the skin, converting it into Vitamin D, which is then absorbed into the body.

Remember to take care in the sun though and not allow your skin to burn!

Functions of Vitamin D

Vitamin D has several functions, including:

·        Regulating calcium and phosphorus absorption.
·        Regulating calcium levels in the blood.

Benefits of Vitamin D

The benefits of adequate levels of Vitamin D to the body include:

·        Helping to strengthen bones and teeth.
·        Helping to regulate normal neuromuscular functioning.
·        Helping to regulate normal blood clotting.

Natural Food Sources of Vitamin D

Most of our Vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun, but you can get small amounts from natural food sources including:

·        Fish liver oils
·        Mackerel
·        Sardines
·        Salmon
·        Tuna
·        Eggs
·        Milk and dairy products
·        Fortified breakfast cereals

Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D

The majority of people should be able to get all their Vitamin D requirements by eating a balanced diet and getting some exposure to the sun.

For adults who are not exposed to much sun, it is recommended that you take a daily supplement containing 0.01 mg (10 micrograms) of Vitamin D.  This recommendation also applies to pregnant and breastfeeding women, and to people aged 65 years or over.

Deficiencies of Vitamin D

Lack of Vitamin D over a long period of time could result in one or more of the following deficiencies:

·        Rickets in children, which is the softening and deformity of the bones.
·        Osteomalacia in adults, which means that the bones are inadequately mineralised and leads to softening of the bones.
·        Senile osteoporosis, which is a gradual decrease in the rate of bone formation which leads to softening of the bones.
·        Severe tooth decay.
·        Poor muscle tone and weakening of the muscles.

Side-effects of Too Much Vitamin D

Excess intake of Vitamin D over a long period of time could result in one or more of the following side-effects:

·        Nausea.
·        Vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
·        Weight loss.
·        Yellow deposits under the fingernails, on the skin or in the eyes.
·        Excess calcium levels in the blood.
·        Abnormal calcium deposits in the blood vessel walls.
·        Hardening of the arteries.
·        Calcium deposits in the kidneys.

N.B.  It’s always advisable to consult your doctor or health care professional if you have any concerns regarding your health or nutrient intake.

Prices/discounts indicated are correct at the time this article was written/published.  E&OE.

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