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Sources of Vitamin D and why is it important for your health

The main function of vitamin D in the body is to facilitate the absorption of calcium by the body, which is essential for the healthy development of bones and teeth. In addition to improving bone health, vitamin D prevents diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

Vitamin D is important for regulating bone metabolism, and acts as a hormone by keeping calcium and phosphorus present in the proper amounts in the blood by increasing or decreasing the absorption of these components in the small intestine.

Sources of Vitamin D and why is it important for your health

Functions of Vitamin D

The functions of vitamin D in the body are:

  • Increases the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the gut;
  • Strengthens bones and teeth, making them healthier;
  • Prevents diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and multiple sclerosis;
  • Increases muscle production;
  • Improves balance;
  • Strengthens the immune system;
  • Improves cardiovascular health;
  • Prevents some types of cancer, such as colon, rectum and breast;
  • Prevents premature aging.

The benefits of vitamin D are obtained through the regular consumption of foods rich in this vitamin and sun exposure, which activates the production of vitamin D in the skin.

Where to find vitamin D

Vitamin D can be found in foods like fish, seafood, cod liver oil, egg yolk, milk and dairy products. Check out a list of  foods rich in vitamin D.

Another natural source of vitamin D is its production in the skin from exposure to the sun's rays. Therefore, to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D, light-skinned people should stay in the sun for at least 20 minutes a day, while black-skinned people need about 1 hour of sun exposure daily.

In addition to natural sources, vitamin D can also be found in the form of capsule or drops supplements, which should only be used in cases of vitamin D deficiency. The amount of supplement to be taken varies according to age, dose of medication and the degree of vitamin deficiency. Children and pregnant women should only take vitamin D supplement according to medical advice.

Sources of Vitamin D and why is it important for your health

Daily need for vitamin D

The required amount of vitamin D a day varies with age:

  • Children up to 1 year: 10 mcg;
  • Children older than 1 year and adults: 15 mcg;
  • Elderly people over 70 years: 20 mcg;
  • Pregnant women: 15 mcg.

In general, a diet is not sufficient to meet the daily needs of vitamin D, so it is important to have daily sun exposure to have adequate vitamin D production. The lack of vitamin D in the body is identified through a blood test called 25-Hidroxy Vitamin D, and the diagnosis of deficiency is done when you have results below 30 ng / ml.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in the body are:

  • Decreased calcium and phosphorus in the blood;
  • Muscle pain and weakness;
  • Weakening of the bones;
  • Osteoporosis in the elderly;
  • Rickets in children;
  • Osteomalacia.

Absorption and production of vitamin D are impaired in some diseases, such as kidney failure, lupus, Chron disease and celiac disease. See more in: Signs that may indicate vitamin D deficiency.

Consequences of excess vitamin D

The consequences of excess vitamin D in the body are weakening of bones and elevated levels of calcium in the bloodstream, which can lead to kidney stones and cardiac arrhythmia.

The main symptoms of excess vitamin D are lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, increased urinary frequency, weakness, high blood pressure, thirst, itchy skin and nervousness. However, excess vitamin D only occurs when there is overuse of supplements of this vitamin.

Bibliography >

  • COZZOLINO Silvia. Biodisponibilidade de nutrientes. 4º. Brasil: Manole Ltda, 2012. 343-364.
  • LÓPEZ Alonso, VELASCO Ureta et al. Vitamina D profiláctica. Revista de Pediatría Atención Primaria. 12. 47; 2010
  • JUDD Suzanne et al. Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation | AHA/ASA Journals. 117. 4; 503-511, 2008
  • ASCHERIO Alberto . Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and Risk of Multiple Sclerosis. Journal of the American Medical Association. 296. 23; 2832-283, 2006
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