Unlike the other vitamins, Vitamin D is absolutely different. It is considered as a steroidal compound or a hormone that can be produced by our body. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, the skin cells break cholesterol and prepares Vitamin D. this is why it is also called as ‘Sunshine Vitamin’.
In some cases, the exposure to sunlight is inadequate which is why external sources are preferred. It can be consumed via natural food sources or by using supplements. Vitamin D is very necessary for maintaining good health. The biggest issue is the natural source of Vitamin D is a handful in number. In the case of Vitamin D deficiency, supplements are mostly preferred. The occurrence of deficiency of Vitamin D is very common in this contemporary world. In-house jobs and sedentary lifestyle contribute to this problem. A study revealed almost 41.6% of the entire US population in 2005-2006 was deficient in this hormonal vitamin.
Nature of Vitamin D
It is one of the members of the fat-soluble vitamin club. The other members are Vitamin A, D, E and K. The term ‘fat-soluble’ means that it can b dissolved in oil or fat. Hence, it can be easily stored in the cells for a long time. The vitamin is of two types.
It is also known as Vitamin D3 and is naturally found in egg yolks and fatty fish.
It is also known as Vitamin D2 and is naturally found in few species of mushrooms.
The necessary among the above types of Vitamin D is Cholecalciferol as it is double-effective than D2 or Ergocalciferol.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a very beneficial compound that is needed for regulating the genes in our body. First, it is not active during the primary stage. It has to go through two significant steps. The first step converts the vitamin molecule into Calcidiol. This is the form in which the vitamin is stored in the tissues. The second stage is where Calcidiol is converted into Calcitriol. It is the form where the vitamin becomes active. This active form of Vitamin D is then delivered to the nucleus of every cell. Vitamin D benefits start to reveal when the steroidal molecule interacts with its receptor know as Vitamin D receptor (VDR). The combination of the active form of Vitamin D along with the receptor acts like a switch for genes to turn on or off. The working principle of Vitamin D is similar to that of the hormones. The control mechanism of the steroidal compounds decides how a particular cell will work.
In a specific way, Vitamin D is directed towards the cells that are related to the skeletal system. It means that the steroidal vitamin tells the cells to absorb phosphorus and calcium and keep the bones healthy. But, recent findings suggest that Vitamin D is linked with many other functions in the cells.
Due to its gene-control mechanism, it aids in avoiding cancer and boost the immunity system of an individual.
Sunshine is the best source
Doctors often recommend those who lead a sedentary lifestyle or spend most of the time inside the house to go outside and soak the sunrays. Vitamin D is naturally produced by the skin cells with the aid of the sun rays. The ultraviolet rays (UVB) are utilized as the energy source to convert cholesterol into Vitamin D. Sunbathing or exposing your skin for 15 minutes every day will provide ample amount of vitamin to run the functions normally.
All you need to do is to expose maximum part of the body. Only exposing the arms or face will not produce the required amount of the vitamin your body needs. In this case, using sunscreen is also harmful. The cosmetics screen the UVB rays and stop them from reaching the skin cells. In the same way, when you stay behind a glass wall or a shadow, your skin cells will be deprived of UVB. This is why the risk of Vitamin D deficiency increases to a considerable extent.
The best way to ensure getting a high amount of Vitamin D is via exposing in the sunlight. The exposure time should be limited or else, adverse effects of UV rays will occur. The skin might get sunburned and dark patches will appear. In fact, it is hard to absorb ample amount of UVB for those who have a sensitive skin. The physicians recommend exposing under the sun for 10 to 30 minutes without a sunscreen. After the prescribed time, you can apply sunscreen.
Natural Vitamin Sources: Vitamin D rich foods
Unfortunately, Vitamin D3 is found in very few natural sources. It is found in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, trout, swordfish, tuna, sardines, etc in a decent amount. In order to achieve the level of requirements, you have to consume them every day in good amount.
The Vitamin D Rich foods and sources that can be consumed other than the fatty fish are fish liver oils. It contains a higher amount of Vitamin D3. Cod liver oil is a very common source of Vitamin D3 that is used in almost every household. One tablespoon, that is 15ml, can deliver double the requirement of an adult.
On the other hand, the cereals and dairy products are also considered as Vitamin D Rich foods and sources. As mentioned earlier, Vitamin D is also found in egg yolk and in few species of mushrooms.
Children suffer from rickets due to the deficiency of Vitamin D. In fact, a study has shown that 96% cases of cardiac arrest are deficient. The deficiency does not produce any prior symptom which is why its deficiency is also considered as a silent epidemic. Prolonged deficiency can lead to reduced bone mineral density and osteoporosis. The deficiency also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, autoimmune disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis, etc. When the natural food source is not enough, doctors often recommend taking Vitamin D supplements for better and quicker results. The supplements increase bone density and physical strength. The proper level of Vitamin D also reduces the chances of Diabetes Type I by 78% and cancer by 60%.