Vitamin D is one of the essential vitamins our bodies need in order to function appropriately. Most people understand that vitamin D, in conjunction with calcium and phosphorus, are important for the health of your bones. And now, in the recent news media, researchers have also determined that vitamin D has even greater benefits than physicians and nutritional experts previously believed.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamins that exists in several forms. This means that the vitamin is absorbed into the fat cells of the body and an individual can overdose on a fat-soluble vitamin. This is different from other water soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C, which is excreted through the kidneys when an individual takes too much.
Vitamin D is found as vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D is found in many different dietary sources such as fish, eggs, fortified milk and hot liver oil. However the sun assist the body in producing all the vitamin D that is required when an individual receives between 45 minutes and to 90 minutes of sun exposure a day. Some researchers believe that as much as 10 minutes of exposure can be enough to prevent deficiencies but the exact number is dependent upon the strength of the sun and the amount of clothing the individual is wearing.
Vitamin D also helps in the absorption of calcium which is probably why milk is fortified with vitamin D in order to help the body absorb as much calcium from it as possible. Recent research also suggests that vitamin D can help protect individuals from hypertension, cancer and several autoimmune diseases. Because there are vitamin D receptors on many cells in the body researchers are also investigating the importance for a variety of other health conditions such as multiple sclerosis and associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in women.
Individuals who may be at higher risk for deficiency will include the elderly, obese individuals and those who have limited exposure to the sun. Other individuals who may be at risk are those strict vegans and those living with chronic inflammatory disorders of the intestinal tract that interfere with nutrient absorption. Vitamin D is converted into an active form in the body through the liver and kidneys. This means that those individuals who have liver cirrhosis, hepatitis or kidney stones may also have difficulty metabolizing vitamin D and can become deficient as well.
The National Academies of Sciences currently recommends 200 international units a day for children and adults up to the age of 50 and increases that to 400 to 600 international units for those older than 50. Researchers now question whether those levels are adequate and believe that a daily intake of up to 1000 international units would benefit many people.
Even more of the recent research indicates that vitamin D has a significant role in the immune system. Individuals who have a sufficient amount of vitamin D metabolized in their body has a decreased risk of contracting cold or flu. Researchers have determined a link between the amount of sunshine and individual may be exposed to and cold and flu season.
In other research physicians found a link between women who were deficient in vitamin D after time of diagnosis with breast cancer and their likelihood to die from the disease. Apparently, cancer is twice as likely to spread to other parts of the body in individuals who are deficient in vitamin D and suggests that the status or level of vitamin D in the body will affect how rest cancer will progress.
Vitamin D deficiency is have significant negative effects on the overall health of an individual but because of the incredibly easy access that most of us have to maintaining appropriate levels individuals should be cognizant of the amount of time that they spend in the sun.