Monday 11 July 2011

Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is perhaps the single most underrated nutrient in the world of nutrition – That is probably because no health industry is interested in promoting it as it is still FREE!!!
Vitamin D is probably most known as the Sunshine Vitamin, as it is a well-known fact that our body is able to synthesize the Vitamin D that our bodies need through the Ultra-violet rays of the sunlight. Those people living closer to the poles tend to show more vitamin D deficiencies than those of us lucky enough to live closer to the equator.
Sunscreens with a sun protection factor of 8 or greater will block UV rays that produce vitamin D, but it is still important to routinely use sunscreen whenever sun exposure is longer than 10 to 15 minutes. It is especially important for individuals with limited sun exposure to include good sources of vitamin D in their diet.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that “vitamin D 'triggers and arms' the immune system”. It said that researchers believe that vitamin D plays a key role in boosting the immune system.
The study looked at human T cells in the laboratory, and found that vitamin D was part of a complex process in which T cells become 'primed' and help to fight infection.  This would explain why most of us tend to come down with some kind of cold and flu infection through the colder months.
Rickets and osteomalacia are two terms for the disorder caused by a lack of Vitamin D. These both are the results of either inadequate sunlight exposure or intake of Vitamin D. The major biological function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. This lack of Vitamin D can in turn make it impossible for the body to absorb calcium (important for strong bones and teeth, maintenance of regular heartbeat, transmission of nerve impulse, lowers cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and prevents bone loss) and phosphorus (important for blood clotting, bone and tooth formation, normal heart rhythm, kidney function, the bodys’ utilisation of vitamins and the conversion of food to energy)

Consuming too much vitamin D through diet alone is not likely unless you routinely consume large amounts of cod liver oil. It is much more likely to occur from high intakes of vitamin D in supplements. Being a fat-soluable Vitamin, it is very possible to overdoes your daily intake of vitamin D if you are taking it in a tablet form so do not take more than stated as the typical RDA, or ask your health consultant for more advice.

Some facts about Vitamin D:

  • Vitamin D prevents osteoporosis, depression, prostate cancer, breast cancer; and deficiencies have also been related to diabetes and obesity.
  • You would have to drink ten tall glasses of vitamin D fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into your diet.  And, the form of vitamin D commonly found in fortified milk is Vitamin D2 while the ideal form for supplementation is vitamin D3.
  • People with dark-skin pigmentation may need 20-30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. This may be why prostate cancer is epidemic among black men.
  • Sufficient levels of vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.
  • It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure: your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs.
  • If it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic vitamin-D deficiency right now.
  • Vitamin D is "activated" in your body by your kidneys and liver before it can be used.  Therefore, having kidney disease or liver problems can greatly impair your body's ability to activate circulating vitamin D.
  • Even weak sunscreens (SPF=8) block your body's ability to generate vitamin D by 95%. This is how sunscreen products actually cause disease  by creating a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.
  • The healing rays of natural sunlight (that generate vitamin D in your skin) cannot penetrate glass. So you don't generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.
  • People who have tested to have the lowest levels of blood serum vitamin D have been proven to have a significantly increased risk for developing Parkinson’s disease. Those that have high levels of the vitamin demonstrated protection against the disease.
Diseases associated with Vitamin D deficiency:
  • Vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate type 2 diabetes and impair insulin production in the pancreas.
  • Obesity impairs vitamin D utilization in the body, meaning obese people need twice as much vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is used around the world to treat Psoriasis.
  • Vitamin D deficiency causes schizophrenia.
  • Chronic vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia because its symptoms are so similar: muscle weakness, aches and pains.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a melatonin imbalance initiated by lack of exposure to sunlight.
  • Cancer, including prostate cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer
  • Osteoporosis - A greater vitamin D intake from diet and supplements has been associated with less bone loss in older women
Sources of Vitamin D:
Fish liver oils, Fatty saltwater fish, salmon, sardines, tuna, oysters, dairy products, eggs, butter, liver, shitake mushrooms, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and vegetable oils.
Herbs and sprouts: Dandelion, alfalfa, horsetail, nettle and parsley, Fenugreek

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