Wonders of Vitamin D: Here’s Why You Should Add This Sunshine Superstar to Your Diet in Winter
It is difficult to get enough sunlight during winter months and that leads to a significant risk to people’s vitamin D levels.
It can be very easy to get Vitamin D or the “sunshine vitamin” when you are consistently heading out for runs in the sun in the summer season. However, when the winter comes around, the days get colder and shorter and our time inside tends to grow longer. It is difficult to get enough sunlight during the winter months and that leads to a significant risk to people’s vitamin D levels.
Let’s Know about Vitamin D
It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods and is available as a dietary supplement or it can be made in the body when the sunlight is absorbed through the skin. It helps in regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate present in our blood and it also helps in the absorption of calcium which is important to maintain strong and healthy bones. It also contributes to the health of our muscles, nerves and immune system.
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There are two types of Vitamin D in the diet and supplements:
- Vitamin D2 called as ergocalciferol ( majorly found in mushrooms)
- Vitamin D3 called as cholecalciferol ( majorly found in animal food products such as oily fish, fish liver oil and egg yolks)
- D3 is more powerful and raises vitamin D levels almost twice as much as D2
How Vitamin D deficiency affect your body
If we do not get enough Vitamin D, we may be at risk for developing Rickets (rare disease that causes bones to become soft and bend),osteomalacia (that causes weak bones, bone pain and muscle weakness) and other bone disorders, diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart stroke and it may slow the aging process. Low levels of Vitamin D also linked with the increased risk of acute illness, inflammatory injuries and stress fractures.
Daily Vitamin D requirement
There are many factors that help determine the amount of Vitamin D a person needs.
The daily recommended requirement is 600 IU per day for individuals from 1 to 70 years of age and 800 IU per day for above 70 year of age. (Same recommendations for lactating mother and pregnant ladies)
For infants, the daily requirement of Vitamin D is 400 IU/day.
- Individuals who are Vitamin D deficient needs to take 6000 IU to reach sufficient blood levels.
- People who are overweight or Obese may also needs higher amount of Vitamin D.
Let’s discuss about the main Sources of Vitamin D :
- SUNLIGHT EXPOSURE – The best way to get Vitamin D naturally is from the Sun. But due to the inadequate exposure to sunlight in winters, we need to add foods loaded with Vitamin D in our diet.
- It may be cold outside, but you can still catch some rays by taking the long way to work, go for a short walk after lunch. Spending 15- 30 min. Outdoors three times a week before afternoon is all you need.
Foods containing Vitamin D
There are very few foods that contain significant amounts of Vitamin D
- Fatty fishes such as Salmon,tuna,mackerel, Fish oils, egg yolks, dairy products fortified with Vitamin D, edible mushrooms are few Vitamin D rich sources. There are many Vitamin D enriched sources available in the market such as soy milk, yogurt, orange juices.
You could also consult your doctor if you believe your vitamin D levels are low. After performing a blood test and assessing your current levels, your doctor will prescribe a dose of Vitamin D or recommend a supplement.
- Doses differ for every body and taking too much Vitamin D can be toxic, so always consult your physician before taking supplements.
Immunity and Vitamin D
Vitamin D is actually a hormone rather than a Vitamin as the final product of Vitamin D conversion in the body is considered a hormone. This hormone has a wide effect on our immune system. It also plays a role in auto immunity. It’s deficiency is observed in autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammatory bowl disease and lupus erythematosus. Sunlight exposure, Vitamin D fortified foods and supplements will help in boosting up the immunity levels in our body.
- Due to low immunity in pregnant ladies, lactating mothers and infants, it is mandatory to incorporate daily dose of Vitamin D either through foods, sunlight or supplements.
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