The human body needs a lot of minerals and vitamins to survive. We know that for a fact. Vitamin D is obviously one of those essentials that we cannot do without. Here’s what you need to know about it from what its functions are, its benefits and how you can get it. OK so what are some of the vitamin D benefits for longevity?
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D has many key functions, but the most important ones might be that it is good for your bone and your teeth. It also boosts your immune system which helps you protect yourself from many conditions like type 1 diabetes and depression.
Now, the name is a bit misleading because vitamin D is actually a prohormone. It is a nutrient that we cannot produce in the body on our own. But it’s not a lost cause because there is a simple way to help the body produce it.
Vitamin D needs to be activated in the body and that happens when the cholesterol in our body is exposed to the sun. That’s one way to get it and is also why it is called the ‘sunshine vitamin’. The other is through a balanced diet and supplements when you need them.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb phosphorus and calcium from the gut. But what do we get by creating vitamin D in our body? Take a look.
Vitamin D Benefits For Longevity
As mentioned before, vitamin D has a role in maintaining the health of our teeth and bones. But there’s more. Let’s look at them all in a little depth.
Vitamin D essentially helps the body regulate calcium and phosphorus in the blood which is key to keeping the bones healthy. The kidneys keep excreting the necessary calcium so vitamin D keeps the intestines stimulated by replenishing them.
If that doesn’t happen, you end up with a vitamin D deficiency. In children, it can lead to rickets which is the result of bones getting softened. In adults, it can lead to a reduction in bone density which leads to a condition called osteomalacia. This can also be the cause of osteoporosis along with weakness in the muscles.
Nervous System And Brain Health
Research shows that the right amount of vitamin D can give you protection from coronavirus and helps to prevent diseases like influenza. Vitamin D is also helpful in reducing the risk of a disease called multiple sclerosis. It also helps in reducing your chances of cardiovascular problems.
Research has also shown that vitamin D helps regulate our mood which in turn helps in fighting depression. Taking vitamin D supplements has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression in some individuals. In fact, some research has shown that those who suffer from anxiety and/or depression have a common problem of vitamin D deficiency.
There is nothing wrong with having a few extra pounds because that is what is called the body type for some people. But in some other cases, being overweight is a sign of being unwell.
Adding vitamin D to your diet in the form of supplements can aid your primary efforts to lose weight. But do remember that vitamin D supplements by themselves don’t cause weight loss. It happens because the additional calcium that your body receives from the supplements can suppress your appetite.
In pregnant women, a lack of vitamin D can increase their risk of having the baby preterm. This deficiency is associated with bacterial vaginosis which is the presence of too much of a certain kind of bacteria in the vagina.
It can also lead to gestational diabetes which is a condition that is the result of increased glucose levels in the pregnant women’s blood which might come back to normal after they give birth. But it is still unwanted.
Foods With Vitamin D
If you are not a fan of supplements, that’s okay. There are other ways to get your vitamin D through food. You just need to know how much of these foods you need to consume on a daily basis.
- If you like fatty fish like tuna, sardines, trouts and mackerel, you are in luck. You just need to eat a good deal of them every day.
- You can also look into cod liver oil. A tablespoon of this fish liver oil will give you more than what you need for a day.
- Some dairy products and fortified cereals are also good sources of vitamin D.
- And finally, egg yolks and certain rare types of mushrooms also contain a small amount of vitamin D.
Daily Recommended Dose Of Vitamin D
As with most vitamins and minerals, there is a specific recommendation based on your age, blood serum level and health conditions (like pregnancy or the lack of it).
There is a standard measure called international units or IUs of vitamin D you need every day. This is a rough estimate. For specific numbers, you should consult your physician.
- For infants from birth to 12 months of age, it’s 400 IU or 10 mcg
- For individuals under the age of 70, it’s 600 IU or 15 mcg
- For adults above 70 years, pregnant and breastfeeding ladies, it’s 800 IU or 20 mcg
How To Take Vitamin D
The easiest way to get vitamin D, of course, is through sunshine. When your body is exposed to the sun, the cholesterol reacts with the ultraviolet rays and vitamin D is produced.
If you live in a region with a good deal of sunshine, taking a walk in the neighborhood in the morning (not the noon sun) a few times during the week will take care of your vitamin D needs.
But this means you should expose as much of your skin to the sun as you possibly can. If you’re fully clothed, you won’t get as much vitamin D as you need. The same is true for those who take that walk with sunscreen on.
But if you’re going to be in the sun for many hours, of course, you should take some sunscreen along and apply it after about 10 to 30 minutes. This window is to help you determine how much sun your skin can take without burning. Sunburn causes the skin to age prematurely but it also increases the risk of developing skin cancer.
Side Effects Of Vitamin D
Too much vitamin D is not a big possibility, but it does happen. If you go overboard, which is more than 4,000 IU a day, you might experience toxicity. This might:
- Over-calcify your bones
- Harden your blood vessels, heart tissues, lungs and kidneys
- Cause headaches and nausea
- Decrease your appetite
- Lead to dry mouth
This is a greater risk with supplements which is why you take any after consulting a doctor.
Vitamin D Benefits For Longevity: In Conclusion
There are lots of great things about vitamin D. the thing to remember is that you don’t need a lot of sun every day because the body can store vitamin D for weeks and even months.
And if you don’t get too much sun in the winter, you can always get it from food sources and some supplements recommended by a doctor. May Vitamin D help you to live a long, happy life!