When we talk about health and vitamins, one of the most brought up subjects on every media platform is the importance of vitamin D in our body and how its lack can cause a series of problems for our health.
However, most people don’t really know what Vitamin D is nor how important it is. With that in mind, we brought you a guide on everything you need to know about this vitamin.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamins are organic substances, which are produced by our body and are essential for our immune system, metabolism and growth.
Therefore, Vitamin D also known as the sun vitamin. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it has the ability to dissolve in the fat in our body, and that one of its main functions are the calcium absorption and stimulation of bone cells.
But the importance of Vitamin D goes beyond these functions and we will talk more about them right now.
What is the importance of Vitamin D?
Over the years, the importance of Vitamin D for our organism has become increasingly evident, being essential for the development of calcium and bone cells.
Therefore, this vitamin is still extremely important for the bone development in children, making them avoid problems such as rickets.
In addition to that, vitamin D acts directly on the immune system and the proper functioning of our kidneys. Vitamin D absorbs the calcium that is present in the blood, maintaining the adequate amount to keep the metabolism functioning.
Vitamin D is also important for regulating blood sugar levels and blood pressure, which improves cardiac control.
When we talk about male health, in addition to the reasons that were already mentioned, the importance of Vitamin D is directly linked to the production of testosterone, as well as sexual desire.
For women, on the other hand, it still acts on hormonal production, helping to prevent diseases such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and endometriosis. It’s also essential for hormonal treatments during menopause periods.
What are the normal levels?
Just like other vitamins, the Vitamin D levels can be analyzed through a blood test, which ban be done in a laboratory.
The test that verifies the amount of Vitamin D in the organism is called 25-Hidroxyvitamin D3 or 25(OH)D and can be requested by a series of experts.
The levels of Vitamin D should be verified by a doctor, since the daily recommendation varies according to someone’s age and life stage, as you can see below:
|Life stage||Daily recommendation|
|0-12 months||400 IU|
|Between 1-year-old and 70-years-old||600 IU|
|Over 70-years-old||800 IU|
Blood tests for vitamin testing do not need any special preparation and can be done with a small blood sample.
This way, the normal levels can be measured, according to the 2017’s recommendation by the Brazilian Society of Clinical Pathology/Laboratory Medicine and the Brazilian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism. The sufficient levels of vitamin D for healthy people who are below 60 years old must be greater than 20 mg/ml; as to people who are in a risk group and are older than 60 years old, the vitamin D levels should be between 30 and 60 mg/ml.
Sources of vitamin D
When we talk about Vitamin D, we can say that its main absorption source is our skin, due to the exposure to sun rays.
This exposure should occur at least from 10 up to 15 minutes and 3 times a week. You should let your arms and legs exposed, so they can absorb it better.
Besides that, it’s possible to find vitamin D in foods of animal origin, such as fat fish, dairy products and eggs. Let’s see some examples:
|Amount of Vitamin D for each 100 grams of food|
|Cod liver oil||252 mcg|
|Salmon oil||100 mcg|
|Smoked salmon||20 mcg|
|Fresh herring||23,5 mcg|
|Fortified milk||2,45 mcg|
|Boiled egg||1,3 mcg|
|Meat (chicken, turkey and pork) and guts in general||0,3 mcg|
|Chicken liver||2 mcg|
|Canned sardine with olive oil||40 mcg|
|Ox liver||1,1 mcg|
|Cheddar cheese||0,32 mcg|
Symptoms and deficiency causes
As previously mentioned, the main source of Vitamin D absorption in our organism is through sun rays in our skin.
However, due to a busy routine, especially for those who live in big urban centers, we are less exposed to the sun every day and often food is also not really adequate.
Thus, the number of people with vitamin D deficiency has been increasing, which can cause a series of problems to our health.
Main symptoms of deficiency:
- Several bone problems: such as pain, osteomalacia or osteoporosis in adults; bone weakness, which makes the bones easier to break, especially the bones in our spine, hips and legs; rickets in children – it can cause arching or widening of the legs and arms;
- Growth retardation in children;
- Teething delay and an early production of cavities;
- Pain and muscle spasms
- Feelings of fatigue, weakness and discomfort.
That’s why, if there is a Vitamin D deficiency diagnosis, most times it’s necessary to have a supplementation based on specific medicines, according to medical orientation.
Vitamin D and depression
Recently, new studies pointed out the importance of Vitamin D in the treatment of depression and how its deficiency can increase depression. These studies pointed out that the lack of Vitamin D increases the risk of depression by up to 75%, alongside with an increase of heart problems caused by the depression itself.
Therefore, the combination of vitamin D with traditional antidepressant treatments can lead to an improvement in depression.
In addition to that, vitamin D increases tolerance to antidepressants and doesn’t have additional side effects.
Based on everything that was said, the importance of Vitamin D in our lives is increasingly evident.
For these reasons, whenever it’s possible, try to increase your exposure to the sun and stick to a good diet. Visit a doctor regularly and do blood tests to measure the levels of vitamin D in your body.