Vitamin D - the key to your health
For the longest time, vitamin D was known as a beneficial for the bones. New studies show that vitamin D is a powerful shield against cardiovascular disease and a host of other ailments.
Psoriasis, muscle weakness, rickets, PMS, back pain and pain in the bones, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, neurological diseases, as well as a general weakening of the immune system ranging from a common cold all the way to multiple sclerosis. Long-term vitamin D deficit leads to serious disease.
Many people have an increased need for vitamin D, such as the elderly, children and people who do not go outside, have dark skin or are veiled. The Health Council advises to then use a supplement. In England they go a step further. Now that many people stay at home, the Public Health England advises everyone to take a vitamin D supplement on a daily basis.
The key to our health
According to a study by the Oxford University, gene receptors all over the body need enough vitamin D to prevent the diseases listed above.
Genes need vitamin D for the gen expression, meaning the healthy use of the genetic information. This is why a lack of vitamin D can lead to serious illness. The reason for vitamin D being the key to our health also lies in our genes.
The many jobs of vitamin D in the body
It is easy to see why a lack of vitamin D can lead to sickness by taking a look at the many functions it has in the body.
- Building bones, joints, and teeth
- Absorption of calcium in the intestines
- Reduction of inflammations in the body
- Strengthening of the immune system
- Keeping hormones in balance
- Reduction of oxidative stress
- Neurotransmitter between cells
- Helps with staying calm, finding restful sleep, and coping with stress
- Feelings of harmony and optimal attention and concentration
Vitamin D - the sun vitamin
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin. The body gets most of its vitamin D, up to 90%, from exposure to the sun and only a minute amount from food. Exposure to the sun, the UVB rays in particular, leads to the building of vitamin D in the body. That is the problem with vitamin D.
Why do so many people have a vitamin D deficit?
The modern lifestyle has us getting only a minimal amount of sun throughout the year. Working indoors and covering up on the way to and from work leads to too little sun radiation and therefore too little vitamin D production even during the summer months.
TV and computers have led to more and more leisure time being spent indoors. The decades old propaganda of the sun as a bringer of skin diseases has exacerbated the problem.
Many people, women especially, do not leave the house without any SPF protection any longer. An SPF as low as 8 slows the production of vitamin D in the skin by 95%.
Insufficient absorption of vitamin D from food
Vitamin D is mainly present in fatty fish, fish liver oil, organs, and in small amounts in milk, eggs, and butter. The average consumption of milk, eggs, and butter by people in industrialized countries is not high enough to add significant amounts of vitamin D to the diet.
Vitamin D strengthens the bones
In collaboration with calcium and vitamin K 2, vitamin D holds a key role in the bone metabolism, especially in the building of new bone mass. This is why a vitamin D deficit leads to an increased risk of osteoporosis and broken bones.
Vitamin D protects against the cold
A low vitamin D level in the blood leads to a higher risk of upper respiratory inflammation by 40%. This was found by comparing the data from 19,000 people who had an average of 10 to 29 ¿g/ml of vitamin D in their blood. The relation was even more obvious in asthma patients.
Vitamin D protects from diabetes
Vitamin D protects the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas. It also increases the sensibility to insulin. With the help of vitamin D, the glucose in the blood moves faster into the cells of the body where it is used for energy. In the whole, vitamin D lowers the risk of falling ill with diabetes.
Vitamin D activates the brain
People with a high level of vitamin D can concentrate better, have a better attention span, and have the ability to function at a higher level of mental activity that those with a vitamin D deficit. Scientists at the British University of Manchester came to these results after conducting a study with 3000 men from all over Europe between the ages of 40 and 79.
The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is too low!
According to the National Institutes of Health adults and children over 1 year old should have a daily intake of 600 IU of vitamin D, and infants up to 400 IU of vitamin D. The elderly over 70 years of age have a recommendation of 800 IU vitamin D per day.
Those doses were instated to combat rickets and osteoporosis - the two most obvious ailments resulting from a vitamin D deficit. This recommendation is not regarded as enough by leading vitamin D experts.
The recommended dose for the prevention of disease lies at 1000 to 5000 IU per day for healthy adults. Therapeutic doses can be much higher, but should only be used under a physician´s supervision with frequent blood tests to monitor the vitamin D levels in the blood.
How much vitamin D do we need?
During the summer months, Caucasians can expect to produce about 10,000 IU vitamin D in 10 to 20 minutes of exposure to the sun in a bathing suit. The amount of vitamin D produced slows down with the skin tone.
People with a darker complexion take longer to produce the same amount of vitamin D. Exposure to the sun three times per week at this rate is enough to get all the health benefits of vitamin D.
Even with daily sun exposure, there is no way to overdose on vitamin D since the production of vitamin D is naturally slowed down and stopped by the production of melanin (getting a tan). A high level of calcium in the blood also stops the fabrication of vitamin D in the skin.
Vitamin D accumulates in the body, leading to a store of vitamin D that the body can draw on for about two months. After that, the body needs to replenish its vitamin D needs from food.
In northern regions, especially north of the 42th latitude, a walk in a pale winter sun is not enough to give enough UVB radiation for a sufficient vitamin D production.
How much vitamin D is too much?
Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, there are often warnings against overdosing. Since the human body naturally produces 10,000 IU vitamin D, this should be the physiological maximum level.
In all known overdoses of vitamin D, the people took vitamin D in excess of 40,000 IU per day over several months. Even extreme doses of 100,000 IU over a period of time, and under physician supervision have not led to vitamin D overdoses.
In 2002, the European Union gave out the following directives regarding the safety of vitamin D supplementation.
It was disclosed that a daily dose of 2,000 IU for adolescents, adults, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers; and 1,000 IU per day for children under 10 years of age can be taken without any risks or fear of side effects. Experts say that healthy adults can safely take up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day for up to 6 months.
What is the best way to supplement with vitamin D?
- People, who receive a lot of sun:
Those who spend time in the sun three times a week do not need to supplement with additional vitamin D. As soon as the exposure to the sun is reduced, a daily intake of 1,000 IU of vitamin D is recommended. In the winter months, a daily intake of 5,000 IU is recommended.
- People, who get very little sun:
Those who rarely expose their skin to the sun, even in summer, should take 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day. In winter, the daily intake should be raised to 5,000 IU per day.Disclaimer:
Since vitamin D 3 and vitamin K 2 regulate the way calcium is being used in the body, those two vitamins should be taken together so the calcium is transported into the bones instead of forming plaques in the arteries.
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