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We all know well that vitamins are necessary for the body to carry out its normal day to day functions. Any kind of deficiency or even excess of these vitamins can be harmful to the body and may hamper its normal functioning.
Indian dietary habits have undergone a drastic change in the past few years. Adoption of western food habits resulted in an increase in consumption of preserved, processed and ready-to-cook foods that has impacted the health of people in the form of nutritional deficiencies in spite of eating sufficiently.
In spite of India being a tropical country, sedentary lifestyle, physical inactivity and lesser time spent in outdoor activities can also be attributed to vitamin D deficiency among the general population.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient which is produced naturally by the skin on exposure to UV rays of the sun. It is therefore also called the Sunshine Vitamin.
Other Sources Of Vitamin D Include
- Fish and fish liver oil
- Egg yolk
- Fortified foods such as milk, cereals, yogurt, and juices.
Recommended Daily Requirement Of vitamin D
|Category||Daily requirement (IU â€“ International units)|
|Adults up to 70 years||600 IU|
|Adults older than 70 years||800 IU|
|Pregnancy and lactation||600 IU|
Functions Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D functions both as a nutrient as well as a hormone in the following ways:
- Vitamin D is essential as it is responsible for maintaining serum calcium and phosphorus concentrations in the human body.
- In kidneys, it increases the re-absorption of filtered calcium and phosphorus.
- Helpful for maintaining bone density
- Important for the proper functioning of muscles.
- Formation of teeth
- Experimental studies suggest the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of cancers.
- Enhances immunity.
- Studies suggest that vitamin D enhances the anti-microbial and anti-bacterial activity of white blood cells.
- It is also suggested that adequate vitamin D may be beneficial for preventing cardiovascular diseases.
- Role in fighting depression.
- A study conducted on patients with fibromyalgia found that vitamin D deficiency was common in patients who experienced anxiety and depression.
- Vitamin D also boosts weight loss.
- A study was conducted which claimed that people who took calcium and vitamin D supplements daily were able to lose more weight as compared to patients on placebo.
Should Vitamin D Be Taken With Food?
Whenever vitamins are prescribed by the doctor, the first question that pops up in the patientâ€™s mind is as to how and when to take the vitamins. This article will help you understand if vitamin D can be taken with food or not and also the best ways to take vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which means that it does not dissolve. Vitamin D, when taken, is absorbed into fat globules that pass through the intestine and eventually into the bloodstream.
- A commonly accepted theory is to consume vitamin D with a fatty meal so that it is more easily and effectively absorbed into the bloodstream.
- A study was conducted which found that participants who took vitamin D with a fatty meal were able to absorb up to 32% more vitamin D as compared to participants who had a fat-free meal.
Fatty foods such as avocados, full-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, and eggs are known to help boost the absorption of vitamin D. On the other hand, there are also research studies which have found no connection between high-fat meal and greater vitamin D absorption.
Causes Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Deficiency of vitamin D could be as a result of the following conditions:
- Improper nutrition
- Mal-absorption due to illnesses
- Patients who are bedridden
- Persons living in polar regions where sunlight isnâ€™t abundant
- People who have dark skin
Deficiency Of Vitamin D Results In
- Rickets in children â€“ Insufficient mineralization of bones resulting in hampered growth and softening and curvature of bones.
- Osteomalacia in adults â€“ Insufficient mineralization resulting in osteoporosis
- Increased risk of fractures in adults
Best Ways To Take Vitamin D
Vitamin D needs to be taken at a specific time in the day since the bodyâ€™s ability to absorb certain nutrients is different at different times.
- Some research studies support the theory to take vitamin D in the morning. This is because Vitamin D, when taken at night, can interfere with sleep.
- Melatonin is a hormone responsible for maintaining sleep-wake cycles. Studies have suggested that Vitamin D can interfere with the function of melatonin and hence hamper sleep.
- Taking vitamins early in the morning is also easier and more convenient than carrying them to work.
- The above theories indicate that the best way to take vitamin D is during meal time and preferably during the day.
Research is lacking to support the theory of vitamin D affecting the functioning of melatonin, so it is best to simply experiment and find out what time works best for you.
Since Vitamin D can be naturally produced by the skin, it is wise to not rely solely on vitamin supplements. The best way therefore to take Vitamin D is to spend some time in the sun especially from early morning to 10 am, that is, when the sun is not shining too bright. Adequate sun exposure is the best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D.
If you do not wish to take vitamin D supplements, then the best way to take vitamin D is through natural sources such as fish, eggs and fortified foods available in the market. A study claimed that persons who rely only on diet tend to have a daily intake of just 288 IU of vitamin D which is certainly lesser than the average daily requirement.
Therefore, persons who are suffering from health problems specifically due to vitamin D deficiency need to combine both dietary options as well as take vitamin D supplements to maintain their vitamin D stores.