What is vitamin D: Its Benefits and Side effects

 

Famously known as the sunshine vitamin, the vitamin D is an essential element required by the human body. Contrary to the popular belief, this essential vitamin is not obtained directly through the sunlight. Rather, the exposure to sunlight starts the vitamin D production within the human body as the result of the breakdown of a specific element that is there in the body. However, some amounts of this vitamin can also be taken in the form of food and supplements.

It is important to note that even when it is aptly called so, vitamin D is not exactly a vitamin considering the scientific criterion an element needs to fulfil to be called a vitamin. It would be better to say that more than a vitamin, the element under discussion in this article is a pro-hormone. Since it can be synthesized, even when in minute amounts, by the body itself; it cannot be called a proper vitamin.

How to ensure enough amounts of Vitamin D?

Nutritionists and researchers claim that a direct exposure of human skin to the sun at least 30 minutes per week helps in the formation of enough vitamin D amounts. However, this element tends to break down very easily and there is usually a risk that the body will run out of enough vitamin D amounts. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure some intake of vitamin D through your diet to ensure that your body does not become deficient in it. It is also essential to keep a check on your vitamin D intake as its excessive amounts can lead to various disorders in the body.

Other than the sunlight, we can get vitamin D from cod Liver oil, raw or half-cooked fishes like salmon and tuna, mushrooms, orange juice, eggs, skimmed dairy products, chicken, cheddar cheese, etc. It is interesting to note that more amounts of this element are required by our bodies in winters as compared to the hot season.

Vitamin D intake can also be ensured artificially by taking supplements and injections that have been fortified with this element. However, such a sort of intake is usually not favored by the doctors as they advocate a balanced dietary intake to ensure the regulation of proper body functioning.

Here are a few benefits of taking vitamin D in the required amounts as well as some of the side effects that may show up in cases where vitamin D exceeds the required amounts in our bodies.

Benefits of Vitamin D intake

  • Improves skeletal heath and ensures its development: Vitamin D is essential for the extraction of Calcium and phosphorus from the food we eat and thereby ensures their needed amounts in the blood. Enough amounts of Vitamin D help in ensuring that these elements are present in the blood stream in the required amounts. Calcium and Phosphorus are necessary for the maintenance of a healthy skeletal system and promotes its development in children too.
  • Improves Immunity against the recurring infections: Vitamin D intake in enough amounts has been reported to improve and strengthen the immune system of individuals, especially children’s. A persistent and monitored vitamin D intake helps prevent common cold and flu. It also reduces the risk of other viral and bacterial infections.

 

  • Helps prevent cancer: Vitamin D has surprising effects when it comes to cancer prevention. Since it has the ability to control cell’s growth and regulate cell-to-cell contacts, this element can control and diminish the growth of cancer from cell to cell. It can also diminish the production of cells and vessels in the cancer affects regions of the body and therefore slows down the cancer progress.

 

  • Diabetes risk reduction: Vitamin D in the body has been reported to oppositely affect the levels of insulin in blood. This helps the people with diabetes to resist various other disorders that are associated to diabetes e.g., cardiac issues, Blood pressure, etc.

 

Side effects associated with high vitamin D levels in the body

If there is more than enough intake of Vitamin D, it can adversely affect the body and various organs instead of helping in their growth and working. Some of the risks associated to excessive vitamin D intake are as follows:

  • Hypervitaminosis D can lead to hypercalcemia, a condition characterized by the higher levels of calcium in the body. This leads to the hardening of vessels and can even lead to the deposition calcium in arteries, leading to cardiac disorders.
  • Higher vitamin D levels interrupts the proper digestive working.
  • More than the required vitamin D leads to obesity, headaches, nausea, recurrent infections, and even hypertension.