Vitamin D is formed by the skin’s exposure to the sun. This fat-soluble vitamin is found in dietary supplements and in some foods. The two types of vitamin D are vitamin D3 and vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is also known as cholecalciferol, which is caused by the response of the body to the sun exposure as well as by certain foods. On the other hand, vitamin D2 ergocalciferol is the type commonly used in many supplements. Vitamin D2 is used in fortifying foods including milk.
Vitamin D is necessary in maintaining the normal calcium levels and the phosphorus in our blood to sustain the mineralization of the bone as well as in improving the functions of nerves, cells and muscles. It acts as a hormone, which is responsible in improving the calcium and phosphorous absorption in the small intestines.
Vitamin D is necessary for normal growth especially for young children. Without vitamin D, the bones will be deformed and weak, which may result to osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children. A person that is vitamin D deficient may have high risk in having osteoporosis.
According to different studies, vitamin D is helpful in the prevention of cancer as it blocks the growth of the cell. The risk of having prostate, ovarian, breast and other types of cancers has more cases in areas in higher latitudes than in geographical areas in lower latitudes where there is sufficient sun exposure. Vitamin D is also necessary for the immune system, which is helpful for autoimmune disease. It is also necessary to prevent diabetes, bone and muscle pain, gum disease, fibromyalgia and mood disorders.
Besides the sun’s ultraviolet rays, vitamin D is found in fish such as mackerel, herring, sardines and salmon. Eggs and milk are also good sources or vitamin D as well as cereals and some juice products.
A person is vitamin D deficient if he or she is experiencing too many teeth cavities and brittle or weak teeth as well as bone growth defects. If the condition of diabetes gets worse due to the affected production of insulin in pancreas, there is lack of vitamin D. Lack of energy, insomnia and other sleeping problems, diarrhea and nervousness are also caused by vitamin D deficiency.
People who have insufficient sun exposure are required to have more vitamin D. Moreover, people who frequently use sunscreen need vitamin D because sunscreen prevents vitamin D formation. If you have dark skin, you need to consume more vitamin D because melanin absorbs ultraviolet rays that actually lessen the ability of the skin to manufacture vitamin D.
Too much vitamin D may cause excess calcium in the blood or hypercalcemia. This may result to muscle weakness, vomiting and confusion and may lead to different complications including kidney failure and kidney stones.
You must not take vitamin D if you have sarcoidosis or hyperparathyroidism unless recommended by the doctor.
Avoid taking vitamin D and calcium together with thiazide diuretics because it may cause too much calcium levels in your body. In addition, if you are having calcium-channel blockers, you must prevent having calcium and vitamin D. You need to consult your doctor before taking these supplements.