Vitamin D is no doubt a crucial part of a healthy diet. Unlike some other basic nutrients, it is naturally produced by the body on exposure to direct sunlight. Many people are still unaware of the health benefits of sufficient intake of this important vitamin. It is known for its contribution in helping the body absorb calcium which builds stronger bones and joints. It has been proved that people who consume vitamin D in sufficient amounts are less likely to be affected by osteoporosis and joint pain. It can also slow down the effects of arthritis and decrease back pain in many people. It also prevents certain types of cancer.
The body has to be exposed to sufficient amount of mild sunlight for vitamin D production, and an hour per week is more than sufficient. However, excessive intake may lead to many complications and diseases. Though it is considered a vitamin, it factually acts more like a hormone by attaching to the DNA receptors to promote cell distinction. Studies have shown that as our age increases, we are likely to produce less vitamin D even with adequate exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D is necessary for the growth and development of strong and healthy bones. Its main purpose is to maintain the right amount of calcium and phosphorus in the body and regulate the process of calcification. It is especially crucial in babies and young children, whose bones grow and develop faster than a full-grown person. It maintains the normal structure of bones, governs the balance between bone and blood calcium, and helps in the development of normal healthy teeth. Dental caries and abnormal growth of teeth can be a reason for the deficiency of this vitamin D. This vitamin controls retention of calcium, and the parathyroid gland determines the level of blood calcium by managing the movement of calcium from the bones. In this way, vitamin D and parathyroid help each other in calcium metabolism and bone formation. It also helps in normal growth of the body. The collective functions of vitamin D are to increase the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, retain them for longer period, and use them efficiently in the body.
It helps boost your immunity and acts like a powerful immune system modulator. There are many scientific evidence that it has several effects on the functioning of the immune system and inhibits the development of autoimmunity. It may also be helpful in the prevention of some cancers. Several studies propose that a higher dietary consumption of calcium and vitamin D is directly proportional to lower cases of cancer. Greater exposure to sunlight reduces deaths due to cancer.
Just as it is important to have adequate vitamin D in your diet to avoid deficiency, it is also important not to over consume it. Moreover, it is important to consult a doctor whether or not you require a supplement as part of your diet. Foods such as fish and eggs, are the best sources of this vitamin. Milk and other foods are also regarded as good sources of vitamin D, hence they should be a part of your daily diet.