- by Bgs Gleneagles Global Hospitals
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- Apr 21 2018
Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is not a vitamin it is a prohormone that is substances that the body converts to a hormone. Source : 10 percent of the vitamin D the body needs comes from food such as dairy products and oily fish, and the rest the body makes for itself.
Vitamin D is a hormone the kidneys produce that controls blood calcium concentration and impacts the immune system. It is also known as calcitriol, ergocalciferol, calcidiol and cholecalciferol.
Skin exposure to sunlight body makes vitamin. This reaction produces cholecalciferol, and the liver converts it to calcidiol. The kidneys then convert the substance to calcitriol, which is the active form of the hormone in the body.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Along with calcium, it is vital for strong, healthy bones. We normally get vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, which triggers the skin to make this vitamin. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Milk and a few other beverages and foods are fortified with added vitamin D in some countries. You can also get vitamin D in supplements.
However, many people still do not get enough of this important vitamin. For instance, the skin makes less vitamin D as we age. Use of sunscreen or sun avoidance also lowers the skin's production of vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to play a significant role on immune system which protects an individual prone to infections and illness, cardiovascular disease, and mental illnesses — including mood disorders like depression. Studies also have shown relation with obesity with people who have low vitamin D levels are more likely to be obese.
People who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have diabetes. They also are more likely to have Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome than people with normal vitamin D levels.
In overweight and obese children and adolescents, vitamin D deficiency is associated with early markers of cardiovascular disease Vitamin D deficiency was found to be significantly associated with an increase in atherogenic lipids and markers of early cardiovascular disease.
What health problems does low vitamin D cause?
Vitamin D that is too low often causes no symptoms at first. However, vitamin D deficiency can lead to a loss of bone density, fractures, muscle weakness, and the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. Severe vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Both problems cause soft, weak bones, as well as pain in the bones and muscles.
Some studies show that a lack of vitamin D may raise the risk of some cancers and certain other health problems.
What are the risk factors for vitamin D deficiency?
Some health problems raise the risk of vitamin D deficiency and suggest the need for vitamin D testing. They include:
Chronic (long-term) kidney or liver disease
Malabsorption (inability to absorb nutrients in the intestines) due to longstanding conditions.
Other risk factors for vitamin D deficiency are:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding
Use of certain medicines that affect vitamin D metabolism like steroids,epileptics,etc
Frequent falls in older adults, or a non-traumatic fracture (bone break without a major injury) in any age group
Obesity (vitamin D can get trapped in body fat)
How is vitamin D deficiency treated and prevented?
Treatment and prevention of vitamin D deficiency includes increasing your intake of vitamin D. The goal is to get your blood level of vitamin D above 30 ng/mL. You likely will need supplements to raise your vitamin D level. That is because it is hard to get enough vitamin D solely from your diet, and excess sun exposure can cause skin cancer.
In supplements and fortified foods, vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 and D3. While some research studies suggest that vitamin D2 may be less potent, either form can be effective at recommended doses.
Vitamin D comes in pills, gelatin capsules, or a liquid for children, alone or in a multivitamin. The oral dose is once daily or weekly. Children with rickets or at risk of this disease may get vitamin D injections a few times a year.
The treatment dose of vitamin D depends on your age, how low your blood vitamin D level is, and what is causing the level to be low. Most often your doctor will lower the vitamin D dose after six to eight weeks of treatment. You will then stay on this lower “maintenance” dose for as long as you need.
Vitamin D treatment can improve bone, body composition like muscle mass and quality of life in patients with vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D treatment is very safe but one should be aware of too much calcium in their blood or urine. Careful monitoring of blood vitamin D levels will help check for this possible problem.
Can you get too much vitamin D?
For most people, there is no downside to taking vitamin D supplements. Getting too much vitamin D is uncommon at the recommended intake. An overdose of vitamin D is possible, though, when daily supplements exceed the suggested upper limits. It is therefore important that you take the dose of vitamin D that your doctor recommends.
Excess Vitamin D
Excess vitamin D can cause calcium deposits, nausea, vomiting, itching, increased thirst and urination, weakness, and kidney failure.
What can you do to help prevent and treat vitamin D deficiency?
To prevent vitamin D deficiency, make sure you get at least the required daily allowance through supplements and the foods you eat.
Foods with natural vitamin D include: Certain fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, Cod liver oil, mushrooms, Egg yolks,etc
Foods that often have added vitamin D include: Dairy products, Orange juice, Infant formula, Cereal,etc
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