Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin
Vit D is the only vitamin (some say it is really a hormone) that is not necessarily something you need to get from your diet. Sunlight on your skin activates a precursor that manufactures this vitamin. However, if you live in northern climates or have very dark skin, it may be more difficult for you to get enough sunshine. In that case, you will need to get the sunshine vitamin from your diet.
Those most affected by deficiency are children living in poverty and the elderly. In developed countries, rickets (deficiency in children) is uncommon. However, infants who are breast fed by mothers who don’t get enough sunshine or vitamin fortified foods may become deficient.
Elderly at risk
The elderly are at risk because with advancing age, the body becomes less able to manufacture the sunshine vitamin. In addition, older people tend to stay out of the sun or to use sunscreen. Vegans and vegetarians who do not include fortified products in their diets, are also at risk for deficiency.
Although Vit D is mostly known for its role in healthy bones, recent studies have shown that it may have a protective influence against some types of cancer and some autoimmune diseases. There is also some research that shows that Vit D helps protect against viruses such as respiratory flu.
Caveat: Of all the vitamins, Vitamin D is the most likely to become toxic if taken in large doses. Too much Vit D can cause calcification of the soft tissues of the body.
All of the vitamins work together to keep you healthy and feeling good. Here is a summary of the role of the sunshine vitamin, one of the fat-soluble vitamins, in your good health.
|What it does||Promotes healthy bone growth and density; Helps balance blood calcium levels; Part of healthy immune function|
|Daily needs (AI#)|| [Infants: 10 µg or 400 IU]|
[Children: 15 µg or 600 IU]
[Men: 15-20 µg* or 600-800 IU ]
[Women: 15-20µg* or 600-800 IU]
[Pregnant: 15 µg or 600 IU]
[Lactating: 15 µg or 600 IU]
|Not enough||Rickets in children, Soft bones, back pain and leg pain in adults; Osteoporosis|
|Too Much||High blood calcium level; calcification of soft tissues(Upper Limit established by USDA for infants, 0-6 months is 25 µg or 1,000 IU, infants, 6-12 months is 37.5 µg or 1,500 IU, children, 1-3 years is 62.5 µg or 2,500 IU, children 4-8 years is 75 µg oe 3,000 IU, and children 9-13 years and adults is 100 µg or 4,000 IU.)|
|Foods||Sunlight, Fortified dairy products and cereals, Liver, Eggs, Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, Fish oil|
The best way to know if you need to supplement with Vitamin D, is to get tested to determine your current level. Here are some links to help you make sense of the numbers once you know what your Vit D level is.
Our thanks to one of our regular website visitors, Don, for providing the links to these helpful websites.