Maintaining an adequate level of vitamin D is important for all stages of life. Vitamin D also called The Sunshine Vitamin, vitamin D like every other nutrient plays an important role in the proper functioning of the body. It can be gotten from fatty fish such as tuna but can also be produced in the body through exposure to the Sun because ultraviolet light from the sun is necessary to start a chemical reaction in the skin that, after several complex steps, activates the body's ability to make vitamin D. which works to promote optimal absorption of calcium hence the term ‘Sunshine Vitamin’.
Vitamin D helps to protect against various health conditions, such as some autoimmune disease, cancers, muscle weakness, mood disorders, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure. A deficiency of vitamin D in children can cause a condition known as Rickets, a disease of the bone causing it to soften and even break in extreme cases. For adults, a deficiency of vitamin D could mean an invitation for Osteoporosis which causes weak and dense bones.
Vitamin D deficiency is common. Unlike most other vitamins, getting enough vitamin D doesn't depend solely on diet or supplements. Exposure to sunshine also contributes to a person's daily production of vitamin D and like every other vitamin, not having sufficient amounts can spell doom for your health which makes it imperative for you to constantly be aware of what foods you are consuming or at least try incorporating a balanced diet to your meal plan.
Vitamin D deficiency has several untoward effects on our health; As already established, vitamin D is packed with a host of benefits especially towards promoting healthy bones, accelerated calcium absorption and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Some symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include :
Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults:
Vitamin D posesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties which increases neurotrophic factors such as nerve growth which further promotes brain health. Recent studies reveal insufficiency of vitamin D as a risk factor for cognitive decline or dementia as it has a role in normal brain function. So, insufficiency of vitamin D may lead to decreased memory and cognitive function. Now, rememeber we said our bodies have the ability to produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, well older people tend to have low sun exposure as a result of their lifestyle putting them at an increased risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency.
INCREASED RISK OF DEATH FROM CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES:
A growing number of studies point to vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for heart attacks, congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), strokes, and the conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. In addition to the well-known relationship between vitamin D and bone health, there has been considerable interest of the possible linkage between vitamin D and cardiovascular health due to the expression of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) on cardiomyocytes and vascular cells. Vitamin D plays an extensive role in the regulation of numerous pathways implicated in cardiovascular disease pathogenesis.
SEVERE ASTHMA IN CHILDREN:
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of asthma attacks in children and adults with asthma. It is thought that vitamin D has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial functions in the lungs, which may explain why it could be beneficial. low blood levels of vitamin D have been linked to increased risk of asthma attacks in children and adults with asthma. There has been a growing interest in the potential role of vitamin D in asthma management, because it might help to reduce upper respiratory infections (such as the common cold) that can lead to exacerbations of asthma. It was found that vitamin D supplementation reduced the rate of asthma attacks needing treatment with steroid tablets. Vitamin D deficiency has so been indicated in those who suffer from frequent upper respiratory tract infections .
INCREASED RISK OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES:
The major function of vitamin D is to enhance the efficiency of calcium absorption from the small intestine. Most physicians relate vitamin D deficiency to disorders of skeletal muscle but low levels of vitamin D can also hinder the body’s role in regulating the immune system and preventing immune-mediated diseases. It has been suggested that vitamin D and its analogues not only prevent the development of autoimmune diseases, but they could also be used in their treatment. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to be therapeutically effective in different experimental animal models, such as allergic encephalomyelitis, collagen-induced arthritis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune thyroiditis.
MUSCLE WEAKNESS AND BRITTLE BONES
The effect of vitamin D on the bones has long been established. its impact of muscle function for people who are deficient becomes more apparent as there is a tendency for such people to have low muscle mass, muscle weakness, muscle aches or cramps. The muscles need calcium to function optimally and Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, a deficiency can cause improper muscle function and it can also affect the bones by causing them to become brittle and more prone to fracture.
POOR MOOD REGULATION
Low vitamin D levels were found to correlate with major depression and premenstrual mood symptoms in women and mood disorders and cognitive impairment in older adults . Research supports the role of vitamin D in warding off depression and for those who received vitamin D supplements, their depression symptoms seemed to get better. Vitamin D has so been shown to be involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which affects a lot of cognitive functions such as mood, decision making and social behavior.
In conclusion, it’s obvious that Vitamin D performs a lot of functions in the body beyond bone health. Taking in the early morning sunshine for about 15-20 minutes has proven useful to improve vitamin D levels.
For people with dark skin type, the absorption of the UV radiation necessary to start this reaction is very low and as such there’s need to supplement via diet or a good vitamin such as Oaklife vitamins D3&K2