What are the health benefits of vitamin D?

Date

We found this article in Newsweek on how vitamin D has started gaining more attention for its health benefits.

For individuals looking to take control of their health, using dietary supplements may be an easy way to boost well-being. Cod liver oil is well known for the health fatty acids omega 3, such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) & DPA (docosapentaenoic acid) and the health benefits are well documented in the literature. However, cod liver oil also contains vitamins A and D. In recent years, vitamin D has started gaining more attention for its health benefits.

While in general vitamins are nutrients that the body cannot synthesize itself, vitamin D is an exception which our bodies produce in response to sun exposure. Commonly known as “the sunshine vitamin”, our bodies produce vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight. During wintertime with less sun exposure, it might be difficult to secure sufficient D-vitamin levels, and cod liver oil may be a
good alternative.

People with darker skin tones may not produce vitamin D as quickly as those with fair skin. Sunscreen, while important in guarding against skin cancer, also reduces the body’s ability to absorb the UV rays necessary to prompt vitamin D production. Vitamin D plays an important role in our bodies. It assists in keeping bones and teeth healthy, supporting the immune system, supporting lung and cardiovascular health, and could be involved in other important processes in our bodies.

Healthy Bones
Vitamin D’s role in keeping bones healthy is down to its ability to promote the absorption of calcium. A deficiency in older years can lead to osteoporosis or osteomalacia (bone softening).

Healthy Children
In children, low levels of vitamin D have been linked to rickets. Abroad, many foods are now fortified with vitamin D to prevent rickets including cereals, some dairy products, orange juice, and soy milk. A 2018 study published in Journal of Hypertension linked vitamin D deficiency in children to stiffness of
the arterial walls. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has also suggested that children lacking vitamin D are more likely to develop food allergies.

Healthy Pregnancy
Doctors commonly associate vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy with increased chances of developing bacterial vaginosis and gestational diabetes. Research published in Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health in 2019 also found that pregnant women lacking vitamin D were more likely to develop pre-eclampsia.

Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
Symptoms of deficiency can include fatigue and frequent sickness or infection, bone and back pain, low mood, hair loss, muscle aches, and impaired wound healing. A sunscreen with a sun protection factor higher than 30 can reduce vitamin D production by as much as 98 percent, according to a study published in  Dermato Endocrinology . As we lead increasingly indoor-oriented lifestyles, not
spending enough time in direct sunlight can also lead to vitamin D deficiency especially for those who live in northern latitudes.

How to Make Sure I’m Getting Enough Vitamin D

When trying to get enough vitamin D from time spent in the sun, it’s important to remember that prolonged exposure without sunscreen can be harmful. Current advice is to spend half as long as it takes your skin to burn in the sun without sunscreen to get the benefits without risking skin cancer. This could be as little as 15 minutes for a fair skinned person but may take longer for those with
darker skin. Alternative ways to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D safely include eating foods high in vitamin D such as cheese, egg yolks, fatty fish, beef liver, mushrooms or alternatively taking a supplement such as cod liver oil.

The Norwegian National Council for Nutrition recommends that everyone have a daily intake of 5 ml cod liver oil* (*except children less than 1 years old) 

Source: Article in Newswee 

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