Kauvery Hospital | Patient Newsletters |Importance of Vitamin D in the Body

1. What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D plays a very important role in maintaining strong, healthy bones and teeth, and the overall health of the human body. Vitamin D further makes sure that the brain, heart, lungs and muscles, all function efficiently and helps the body to fight infections.

2. In what form is Vitamin D available?

Sunlight is the main source from which the skin on our body absorbs Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also available as supplements and in very small amounts in certain foods that we eat.

3. Why does our Body need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D helps manage the amount of calcium in the bones, blood, and gut. It further helps the cells in our bodies to communicate correctly. It further regulates the phosphorous content in our body. It supports the health of the immune and nervous system. It regulates insulin levels and helps in the management of diabetes. It helps the lungs function and maintains the cardiovascular health in our bodies. It also influences the expression of genes involved in the development of cancer.

4. In comparison to the other Vitamins, what makes Vitamin D, unique?

The Vitamin D that is absorbed into the body is converted into a hormone called calcitriol or activated Vitamin D. Unlike other Vitamins, Vitamin D because of the process it undergoes is actually not a Vitamin but a hormone.

5. How do I get sufficient Vitamin D?

The ideal method of getting ample Vitamin D would be to allow your face, legs and back to soak up sunlight, for 30 minutes, without applying sunscreen. However, the downside of this is, so much exposure to UV radiation, could be harmful. Therefore, it would be better to get some of the daily dose of Vitamin D from supplements and foods. Furthermore, dark skinned people absorb less Vitamin D from the sun, in comparison to fair complexioned people.

6. Are there tests available to determine the level of Vitamin D?

There is a blood test called 25-hydroxyvitamin D available and the experts agree that anyone with a 25 - OHD level of less than 15ng/ mL needs more Vitamin D.

7. Which of the foods are rich in Vitamin D?

Foods rich in Vitamin D include:

  • All kinds of oily or fatty fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg Yolks
  • Tofu
  • Fortified Cereal
  • Soy Milk
  • Milk and Yoghurt
  • Cheese
  • Cod Liver Oil

8. Will intake of Vitamin D supplements interfere with other medications?

Yes, if you are on anyone of the following medications, then these medications can interfere with the metabolism of Vitamin D. Therefore, if you are taking any of the following medications regularly, you should discuss with your doctor prior to taking Vitamin D supplements.

  • Steroids such as prednisone
  • Weight Loss Drugs
  • Cholesterol- lowering drugs
  • Drugs prescribed for seizures

9. What is the recommended intake of Vitamin D?

It is recommended that the following International Units (IU) be taken, but please do consult with your doctor before consuming any Vitamin D supplements.

  • Infants 0-12 months - 400 IU (10 mcg)
  • Children 1-18 years - 600 IU (15 mcg)
  • Pregnant or lactating women - 600 IU (15 mcg)
  • Adults to age 70 - 600 IU (15 mcg)
  • Adults over 70 - 800 IU (20 mcg)

10. What are the possible effects of consuming Vitamin D?

An overdose of Vitamin D can be harmful and can lead to hardening of the kidneys, heart, lungs and blood vessels. The bones will also become over calcified. The most common symptoms of an overdose or hypervitaminosis D, are vomiting, loss of appetite, headaches, constipation and a metallic taste in the mouth, diarrhea, and dry mouth.

To achieve good health and to prevent diseases, concentrate on eating a well-balanced natural diet avoiding supplements.

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