What Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, is a trendy topic nowadays. You may have recently known that you or someone in your family is vitamin D deficient. It is hard to believe because sunlight exposure of just 20 minutes is enough to get the daily dose of this nutrient. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency has now become a global health concern affecting an estimated one billion people all across the globe. 

Vitamins are considered to be very important because either your body can’t make them, or produce them in tiny amounts to avoid adverse health implications or diseases. You must get an adequate dosage of each of the vitamins either by food or supplements. 

Vitamin D was marked significant when it was found that they are required for the treatment of rickets. It is a fat-soluble vitamin like vitamins A, D, E, and K. 

There are two forms of vitamin D- D2 & D3.

  • Vitamin D2: also called ergocalciferol and comes from plants, fortified foods, and over-the-counter supplements.
  • Vitamin D3: also called cholecalciferol and comes from animal foods (eggs, liver, cod liver oil, and fatty fish), fortified foods, and supplements. 

How Much Vitamin D Do You Require?

Recommended daily dosage of vitamin D depends on your age, gender, and pregnancy status. Have a look at the following data:

Infants (birth to 12 months): 400 IU

Children (1 to 13 years): 600 IU

Teenagers (14 to 18 years): 600 IU

Adults (19 to 70 years): 600 IU

Seniors (71 years and older): 800 IU

Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU

What Are The Risks Of Not Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Depending upon the region in which you live, you may get inadequate sunlight exposure resulting in lower levels of vitamin D. Not only it affects your mental health but also increases the risk of several other health conditions as well.

Dementia

A scientific study has reported that moderate to severe vitamin D deficiencies doubles the risk of certain forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia causes a drop in thinking, behavior, and memory that can negatively impact the quality of your life. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prevalent forms of dementia, which accounts for about 80 % of the overall dementia cases. 

At this point, the link between vitamin D deficiency and dementia is only observational. More research is needed to prove the significance of the study. 

Most vitamin D is synthesized in your body in response to sunlight exposure. It is rarely found in any food. It occurs naturally in only certain foods such as fish liver oils and fatty fish. Some of the most popular dietary sources of vitamin D are fortified foods such as orange juice, milk, and cereals. You can also rely on vitamin D supplements in case of deficiency. 

The body’s ability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight decreases with age, and so most of the older adults usually develop a deficiency of vitamin D. 

So, it’s too soon to increase the dosage of vitamin D to prevent the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But the good thing is that there is no harm with taking steps to maintain healthy vitamin D levels, it can, in fact, make you less susceptible to osteoporosis. 

Nothing can be concluded, and more research is needed to determine if vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and if providing vitamin D can address the conditions. 

Erectile Dysfunction

A scientific survey reported that men with severe erectile dysfunction (ED) had significantly lower levels of vitamin D as compared to those with mild ED. 

Researchers have evaluated data from more than 3400 American men, age 20 yrs or older, who did not have any heart disease. About 30% of them were found to be vitamin D deficient, which implies that their levels of vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin were lower than 20 nanograms per millilitres of blood, and about 16% of them had erectile dysfunction. 

The study found that 35% of men with erectile dysfunction had erectile dysfunction, in contrast to 29% of those without erectile dysfunction

Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland found in men, which produces semen. When cancer cells in the prostate grow beyond control, prostate cancer happens. It brings about some of the symptoms such as pelvic pain, difficulty urinating, and difficulty ejaculating. Some research demonstrated that deficiency of vitamin D might be associated with prostate cancer. 

Also Read: What Does Vitamin D Do?

Several types of research have been done to determine whether vitamin D can prevent or decelerate the progression of prostate cancer. They realized that cancer was less prevalent in people who reside at southern latitudes with high sunlight exposure. 

A study conducted in 2014 considers vitamin D deficiency as one of the significant risk factors for prostate cancer. The researchers found that African-American women with vitamin D deficiency had an elevated risk of getting diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

But, the research is still ongoing. 

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder that affects approximately 1.1 % of American adults. Studies suggest that symptoms usually start commencing between 16 years and 30 years and include incoherent speech, hallucinations, trouble focusing or paying attention, withdrawal from others, etc. 

Certain studies suggest that people who are deficient in vitamin D are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia than those who are not.

Further research is required to determine whether treating with vitamin D can help prevent schizophrenia. They clarified that the condition is more widespread in places with cold climates and high latitudes. Children who have relocated to colder regions appear to be at a higher risk of developing the condition in contrast to their parents. 

There is no cure available for schizophrenia, although some alternatives can help manage the symptoms. It includes cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, psychosocial therapy, family education, and self-support groups.

Sources:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/

https://www.healthline.com/

https://www.medicinenet.com/

https://www.webmd.com/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/

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