Often called the ‘sunshine vitamin’, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble
vitamin which is naturally synthesized by your body. It can be broadly
classified into two types depending on its synthesis; vitamin D2 (also
called ergocalciferol) is produced by plants while vitamin D3 (also
known as cholecalciferol) is produced by humans when their skin is
exposed to UVB (ultraviolet-B) rays that are obtained by sunlight. In
humans, the active form of this vitamin is synthesized in the kidneys.
What are the functions of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a critical nutrient for regulating the activity of
nerves, muscles, calcium and phosphorous levels, secretion of insulin,
various immune functions and the production of cells. It is not only
crucial for survival and growth of different cells in the body but is
also a part of many metabolic processes and should essentially be
considered as a prohormone.
What are some signs of Vitamin D deficiency?
The following are some indicators of vitamin D deficiency, if you
find any of these signs applicable to your body; it is high time that
you consider taking vitamin D supplements.
Feeling depressed most of the time.
Wounds heal slowly.
Excessive hair loss.
Pain in muscles, bones and back.
Falling ill or experiencing infections often.
Health benefits of taking Vitamin D supplements
Taking Vitamin D supplements is recommended for all adults in order
to maintain health and to make sure that all metabolic processes can
occur smoothly. Since taking these supplements has shown no adverse
side-effects, most doctors prescribe these supplements for the following
Risk of osteoporosis and fractures is reduced
Vitamin D supplements when combined with calcium are likely to
prevent osteoporosis and fractures due to the vitamin’s beneficial
effects on the density of bone mineral.
Vitamin D increases bone mineral density, mineralization and is often used as a therapeutic while treating osteoporosis.
Reduces the risk of cancer
Researchers have shown how the byproducts of this vitamin prevent
the spreading of cancerous cell growth and how it also brings about the
death of existing cancer cells. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the
risk of pancreatic, ovarian, breast and prostate cancer.
Taking vitamin D supplements in combination with everyday exposure
to sunlight has proven to be beneficial for women since it prevents the
risk and occurrence of breast cancer.
Studies have shown that a daily intake of 2000 IU of this vitamin is
correlated with a 50% reduction in the prevalence of breast cancer.
Necessary for brain development
Daily intake of vitamin D supplement reduces the risk of different
psychotic and neurotic disorders and helps combat dementia, Alzheimer’s,
schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, depression etc.
Induces detoxification by inhibiting nitric oxide which protects brain cells.
Necessary for production of proteins which prevent neurological disorders
Improves different cognitive functions like memory, balance etc.
Helps combat sleep disorders
Deficiency has been prevalent in cases of sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.
Higher levels of vitamin D in the body increase your chances of sleeping better.
Combats cardiovascular diseases
Helps fight against heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, atherosclerosis and peripheral arterial diseases.
Lowers blood pressure and improves the body’s control over it which prevents a variety of cardiovascular diseases.
Helps reduce the risk of diabetes
Vitamin D plays a vital role in synthesis of insulin and its
secretion from the pancreas which not only helps fight against diabetes
but slows down the progression as well.
Apart from these major health benefits, vitamin D is proven to have
anti-inflammatory properties and is also seen as a cure for celiac
disease, cystic fibrosis etc. Its importance to the nervous system, the
immune system and the digestive system show just how important it is to
take vitamin D supplements on a daily basis.