Our body needs vitamin D for a number of reasons. Human body performs physical movements and actions with the help of muscles and bones. Muscles are involved in nearly all bodily movements and also serve an important role in maintaining body posture and joint stability. But muscles cannot work alone without bones helping them by transmitting the force of muscle contractions. Together, bones and muscles help us perform simple to complex movements such as walking, running, bending over, swimming, cycling and even smiling. Vitamin D is the key ingredient for improved bone health since it helps our bones in calcium absorption and maintaining bone mineralization. It is also important for bone growth especially in children. Without enough vitamin D in our body, bones may become thin and weak leading to development of various chronic conditions associated with muscles performance and motor disabilities.
Vitamin D is generally referred to as “calciferol” as it is a fat soluble vitamin. Although its natural sources from food are scarce, it can be added to other foods such as dairy products and is also available in the form of dietary supplements. One of the greatest sources of getting vitamin D is sunlight. Our body endogenously produces vitamin D when our skin is exposed to ultra violet rays from sunlight and the process is commonly known as vitamin D synthesis.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics, just less than one in every four Australian adults had vitamin D deficiency, which makes up 23% of total Australian population. ABS in this survey, which was published in 2013, further reported that 17% of Australians were mildly while 6% were moderately deficient with 1% having severe deficiency of vitamin D.
Healthy bones contribute greatly to healthy life. Vitamin D deficiency can severely affect your bones and cause various conditions such as Rickets. Children are widely affected by Rickets, a disorder that makes bones weak and soft. Vitamin D is vital for bone growth and strength since it helps bones absorb calcium and phosphorus. Softened bones in adults are termed as “Osteomalacia” which can lead to chronic conditions such as pain in bones, fractures and muscle weakness. Another condition associated with Vitamin D deficiency is known as “Osteoporosis”. In this condition, bones are weakened by lose of mass and density making them more susceptible to sudden and unexpected fractures. This condition is difficult to diagnose since it often progresses without any symptoms and is only detected at the time of fracture.
Ways to get adequate amount of Vitamin D
1.One of the safest ways to intake vitamin D is through natural foods. Sourcing vitamin D from natural foods can be hard as vitamin D is scarce in natural foods. There are still a few options such as egg yolk, beef liver and a few types of fish such as salmon and tuna.
2.Apart from naturally occurring food sources, vitamin D is also available in the form of fortified food rich in vitamin D. These foods have added vitamin D in them. Some of fortified food sources of vitamin D available on the shelf are fortified orange juice, vitamin fortified milk, yogurt fortified with 20% of the daily value of vitamin D, and cereals fortified with 10% of the daily value of vitamin D.
3.Nutritional supplements are another source of vitamin D but it is recommended to take detailed consultation from doctor before jumping into it. It is very important to understand and know how much vitamin D you need. Too much or unchecked intake can affect your health leading to dangerous results.
4.Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D and is available easily to everyone without any cost. Our body is designed to convert UV rays from sun into vitamin D. The amount of vitamin D human body can produce depends on various factors such as the season, the time of the day, location and the melanin content of the skin. Maintaining a balanced approach to sun exposure is the key here as too much or prolonged exposure does not mean increased or more production of vitamin D in the body. It can be harmful instead. Your skin determines the amount of exposure to sunlight since people with darker skin color may require more time in sun than those who have lighter skin tone to produce equal amount of vitamin D.
Vitamin content in your body can be administered by eating balanced diet and maintain a healthy life style. Adequate amount of calcium intake is also important for better bone health, along with vitamin D. Having an exercise oriented everyday routine also helps bones in gaining strength. Improved digestion system and quality sleep can also boost vitamin content in your body.