Your Guide to Vitamin D
A Guide to Vitamin D
The D vitamin is the only vitamin that is not obtained from foods that are consumed.
Instead, the vitamin D is actually obtained by sunlight on the skin. There has been a lot of media coverage about the dangers of getting too much sun but it is essential that the skin is exposed to sunlight to obtain the recommended daily allowance of the vitamin D.
In reality, the amount of time that a person has to spend in the sun to receive a sufficient dose of the vitamin D is extremely small and just a few minutes a day will be sufficient and not have any adverse effects from the amount of ultra-violet light received.
The most important function of vitamin D is to help control how much calcium is absorbed from food. The majority of the calcium is used to build strong teeth and bones but it is also needed to send messages along the nerves and to help muscles, such as the heart muscles, to contract.
It is vitamin D that ensures that there is always sufficient calcium in the blood to perform these tasks. Other functions that require vitamin D relate to the immune system and it is believed that it is also a contributing factor in reducing the risk of contracting cancer and, in particular, colon cancer.
The variant of the D vitamin that is formed under the skin is known as vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol. Vitamin D is created when the ultraviolet in the sunlight reacts with a type of cholesterol that is found under the skin naturally.
D3 is converted into a more active form of the D vitamin in the liver and is then diverted to where it is needed the most. Some of the D vitamin remains in the liver and kidneys to help reabsorb the calcium from the blood. The rest of the D vitamin is dispersed to the bones to help them retain their calcium and the intestines to aid absorption of calcium from food.
Even though the majority of the D vitamin is formed through the exposure of the skin to sunlight there are some foods that do contain some of the vitamin naturally. This form of the D vitamin is known as vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol.
This is used in the same way as the other D vitamins and is the type used to create the majority of D vitamin supplements.
Mineral Vitamin Supplements
The majority of mineral vitamin supplements are made from chemicals rather than natural substances. However, there is a steady growth in the demand for natural mineral vitamin supplements. This is due to the amount of debate that there is as to whether chemical mineral vitamins can be more harmful than beneficial in the long term.
The fact is that chemical mineral vitamin supplements are not as easily absorbed as normal food particles are. The mineral vitamin industry is constantly striving to create products that are more easily processed by the body and therefore more beneficial.
Every now and then the industry comes up with a new 'more bio-available' form of a vitamin or mineral. To overcome this, a large number of mineral vitamins have been developed that combine other elements with the vitamins and minerals to enable them to be more easily absorbed by the body. Iron is commonly combined to form iron gluconate which enable the mineral vitamin supplement to be more absorbable.
The amount of a nutrient in a mineral vitamin supplement needs to be far greater than it would be in a more natural form for the body to be able to absorb the amount that is required. This can obviously lead to problem where a toxic level of the particular nutrient is being consumed by the large doses of the mineral vitamin supplement that are needed.
It is therefore extremely important that a person does not simply take vast quantities of all of the mineral vitamin supplements that are advertised on television and should seek advice from a health professional. It is also worth being aware of the developments in the mineral vitamin supplement industry as there are constantly new and better combinations being developed.
One method that mineral vitamin manufacturers have developed to help aid absorption is through culturing the raw materials with yeast cells. This form of mineral vitamins are known as ‘food state’ and are up to four times easier for the body to absorb the required nutrients as the yeast is completely digested.
Of course, the need for mineral vitamin supplements depends on the diet that a person has. There is no doubt that it is far more preferable for a person to obtain the nutrients that they require from their food rather than by taking mineral vitamin supplements wherever possible.
During certain periods it may be necessary for a person to take mineral vitamin supplements on a temporary basis but their long term use is not recommended for a number of the supplements that are available.
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Tips for Buying Vitamins Online
Buying your supply of vitamins online is a convenient way to ensure that you meet your daily requirements. Not only do you get access to the different supplements you need without leaving your home, you also learn important information and medical updates.
However, not every site that offers vitamin supplements online is safe and reliable.
Furthermore, not every vitamin product sold on the internet is safe or effective.
If you want to know how to protect yourself while buying vitamins online, here are things you can do:
Find out who runs the site.
There are run-of-the-mill sites that sell vitamins online that promise miracles and instant cures.
Go to sites of government or medical organizations and search these sites for directories of reputable vitamin suppliers. You'll get more accurate information from the sites sourced by qualified professionals and experts in the field of medicine.
If product literature is provided, find out who the source and references are.
Vitamin manufacturers often include a description of their product along with testimonials and other information to make it more attractive to consumers. Learn to distinguish genuine scientific information from hype.
If there is an ingredient included in a product that you've never heard of before, do some research.
If the advertisement mentions studies, it should be able to show the specific information about that particular study, where and when it was conducted and who performed the research. This way, you can corroborate the information.
You should be able to get in touch with the manufacturer.
If you have questions about the vitamins you’ve purchased, you should be able to talk to the manufacturer or at least to the customer service and be satisfied. It is their responsibility as a manufacturer to provide you with information and advice when you need it.
Check their return and refund policy as well. If you're unsatisfied with their product, you should be able to get your money back.
Be wary of too many promises.
Even vitamins have their limits so when you buy online, be careful about exaggerated claims.
Some studies can be deceptively complex and clever copywriters can twist published findings to their advantage, especially when medical terms are used.
You might also encounter testimonials and endorsements from people with dubious training in medicine or nutrition. The internet is awash with misleading information, so be very careful.
The internet can be a very important tool to help you establish a healthy lifestyle, provided you know what to look for. Practice prudence and common sense, especially when buying vitamins online.
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Vitamins for Your Health: Can You Get Enough from Food?
To ensure the body gets the right amount of vitamins it requires, we often take supplements in pill form, or as juices, concentrates, powders or candy bars. Even if this is helpful in keeping the body healthy, most experts agree that the best source of vitamins is still food. But can you get enough vitamins from food?
Yes, health experts say. According to dietitian Sarah Schenker, who is also a British Nutrition Foundation dietician, a well-balanced and healthy diet is all that people need to get enough vitamins. She recommends increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables to achieve this end.
The important thing is that the foods are carefully chosen for their vitamin-rich content and that people should go for about 5 portions daily. If you follow this regimen, you will get enough vitamins from food and no longer require supplements.
It has been found that eating foods rich in certain vitamins has an advantage. There are certain extra benefits such as antioxidants found in one food that aren’t available in a single supplement. One small apple, for example, has enough antioxidant effects to equal that of a Vitamin C mega dose; that's 1,500mg of the vitamin all packed in a single fruit. You get chemicals that are anti-carcinogenic, anti-allergenic, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory all in one food.
It's best to begin eating a healthful, balanced diet early in life, not only because it helps develop good eating habits but also because some vitamins and minerals are best ingested during the developing years. Calcium, for example, is best taken during the teen years and the early 20s. This is the best period to protect the bones against osteoporosis later. Supplements may not be enough to correct a calcium deficiency developed during youth.
How much do you need?
The body only needs small amounts of the essential vitamins each day. Getting them isn’t the question, since there are plenty of sources available. The concern is how to ensure that the body receives the right balance for the body's benefit. It is a known fact that prolonged deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can lead to certain conditions and diseases. Conversely, getting too much can be toxic to the body.
There are people who need extra help from vitamins in the form of supplements. People with certain illnesses like cancer and alcoholism or those who are malnourished need extra help.
Vegans and people who don’t get enough sunlight also need to take supplements.
Pregnant women or those who are planning a pregnancy should also not rely on food alone to get their daily vitamin requirements.
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