Things you should know about vitamin D
OK what is vitamin D?
Well the most obvous answer would be that it's a vitamin but of course the name gives that away already. Vitamin D has been classified as a steroid vitamin and helps with the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous.
Currently 5 forms of vitamin D have been discovered and they are D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5. It is said that the important ones for us are vitamins D2 and D3.
How to get vitamin D naturally
Well the most obvious source of vitamin D comes from the ultraviolet(UV) radiation from our sun. We should be getting at least 15 minutes of sun exposed on our skin per day. However it can vary depending on our skin colour. If you have naturally dark skin you will need to have more sun exposure to absorb the vitamin D or perhaps take a suplement. As we know too much sun with high UV levels can damage our skin and increase our risk of skin cancer.
Another natural way to recieve vitamin D is through certain foods that we eat. Some fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as fish liver oils are considered to be the best sources. Some vitamin D is also present in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.
Why do we need vitamin D?
We need a good amount of vitamin D for many reasons. One that was mentioned at the beginning of this article was to assist with the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous which in turn assists with the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
It also helps to regulate the immune system and also assist it against viruses such as the common cold and also reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, cancer and even rheumatoid arthritis in women.
Some people even think that vitamin D is also helpful in maintaining a heathy body weight.
There are many more benefits to vitamin D but those are just some main points.
How much is too much?
If you are wondering if you can overdose on vitamin D then the answer is yes. We should only be aiming to have around 1000IU of vitamin D per day 2000IU at the most. If you have any concerns about how much vitamin D you should be taking then consult your doctor.
Going over 4000IU of vitamin D can actually be harmful to your health. One example would be lets say if you were taking over 10,000IU of vitamin D per day which is overly excessive you may absord too much D and too much calcium that it could cause damage to your kidneys. Also too much is no good for your blood vessels and can cause stiffened arteries.
Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?
It is always best to consult your doctor however here are some people who would be at risk of being deficient in vitamin D.
- People with naturally dark skin. Their skin reduces the amount of UV rays that penetrate it.
- People who go outside but cover themselves up with not much skin exposed (that would be mainly in winter) or who put on lots of sunscreen and hat and stay in the shade (mainly in the summer)
- People who stay/work indoors and not getting any sun.
- The elderly (usually a good idea to get tested)
- People who are overweight (D stored in fat is less bioavailable)