Why Is Vitamin D Important For My Body?
Vitamin D has two sub-forms that our body needs. Those are D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D is primarily needed for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. It is essential to bone and teeth growth as well as maintaining those throughout life. Vitamin D also plays an important role in the immune system of our body.
Where do I get it?
We get vitamin D from foods such as eggs, sardines, and salmon. It is also found in fortified drinks such as milk and orange juice. Fortified breakfast cereals and bread supplement vitamin D as well. When exposed to sunlight, our skin makes vitamin D, which is then activated in our body. Most people get some vitamin D from sunlight. The amount of sunshine you get daily as well as the color of your skin can determine how much vitamin D your body produces. People with darker skin produce less vitamin D with the same amount of sun exposure.
You can get vitamin D from supplements if you are worried that you don’t get enough from your diet or if you are part of groups with a higher risk of deficiency.
How much vitamin D do I need?
The daily intake recommendations for vitamin D is 600 IU or 15µg (micrograms). Since skin synthesis of vitamin D varies so much, the latest dietary recommendations assume minimal sun exposure.
Vitamin D toxicity is very rare, but it can cause nausea, constipation, weakness, and kidney damage. The daily recommended upper limit of intake is 4,000 IU. Sun exposure will not cause vitamin D toxicity.
What happens if we do not get enough vitamin D?
Lack of vitamin D affects bones and many other parts of the body. Growing children who do not get enough vitamin D may have bones that are too soft and unable to support their weight (rickets). Adults deficient in vitamin D can develop soft bones (osteomalacia). They can also lose bone mass, which leads to fragile bones that are at risk of fracturing (osteoporosis).
In general, the following groups of people may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency:
- People who do not get enough direct sun exposure
- Older people
- Persons with dark skin
- People who are obese or have kidney or liver disease