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Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin

Could you have a Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D seems to be the latest vitamin being talked about and by the sound of it, we could all benefit from a boost of this fat soluble vitamin.

It seems we don't expose our skin to enough direct sunlight to produce enough of our own. A good 40 minutes at a time is needed for the ultra violet rays to activate a form of cholesterol called ergosterol which is present in our skin, converting it to Vitamin D. UV can't do this through our clothes or through glass, so direct contact with our skin is vital for this process to occur.

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Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency...

A deficiency of Vitamin D leads to inadequate absorption of calcium from the intestinal tract and a retention of phosphorus in the kidneys. This leads to an inadequate retention of minerals in the bone structures, resulting in an inability of these soft bones to withstand the stress of weight, leading to skeletal malformations.

Rickets is a bone disorder in children related directly to a deficiency of Vitamin D. Signs of rickets are softening of the skull, softening of fragile bones with bowing of the legs and spinal curvature, enlargement of the wrist, knee and ankle joints, poorly developed muscles and nervous irritability.

A deficiency is most commonly seen in premature babies or children who have had too little exposure to sunlight. "Adult rickets" may occur and is called osteomalacia.

Conditions caused by a lack of Vitamin D include:

  • Rickets
  • Soft bones and teeth (and dental cavities)
  • A lack of body tone
  • Fatigue
  • Respiratory infections
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Constipation
  • Ptosis
  • Prolapsus
  • Retarded growth
  • Inadequate calcium absorption
  • Instability of the nervous system

The absorption and storage of Vitamin D...

When you eat food rich in Vitamin D or take a Vitamin D supplement, it is absorbed with the fats, through the intestinal wall, with the aid of bile. It is then transported to the liver for storage. Good reserves of Vitamin D can be stored in the liver, for use when required by the body. Other deposits of Vitamin D are found in the skin, brain, spleen and bones.

Vitamin D from dehydrocholesterol, by sun radiation, is formed in the skin and absorbed into the circulatory system.

Pigmentation is an important factor in the absorption of ultra violet rays. The more pigment there is in the skin, the less vitamin d produced in the body by irradiation.

Heat and oxidation do not usually affect Vitamin D, however very high temperatures may injure it. 

Vitamin D for general good health...

Vitamin D is vital for helping to maintain a stable nervous system, normal heart action and normal blood clotting in the body. This is because of of these function relate to the body's supply and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus.

It is believed that vitamin D and parathyroid hormones work together to regulate the transport of calcium around the body. A deficiency of calcium can cause tetany, a condition characterised by muscular numbness, tingling and spasm.

Adequate Vitamin D is essential for growing children...

Vitamin D is necessary for the formation of healthy bones and teeth in children. Calcium and its co factors will not be absorbed adequately, if there are inadequate Vitamin D levels present. So often we see children playing in doors, rather than running around outside in the sunshine and fresh air.

Vitamin D for strong healthy teeth...

Vitamin D plays an important role in dentition. Besides being necessary for proper tooth eruption and linear growth, it continually strengthens the teeth. According to Adelle Davis, vitamin D helps in preventing tooth decay and pyorrhea, an inflammation of the sockets of the teeth.

Vitamin D for immunity...

Danish researchers have discovered that the body's immune system killer cells, or T cells rely on there being adequate levels of Vitamin D in the blood. If there is a deficiency, they may remain dormant and not respond to the pathogen or infection.

Professor Carsten Geisler of Copenhagen University's Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology said "When a T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it extends a signalling device or 'antenna' known as a vitamin D receptor, with which it searches for vitamin D"
"This means the T cell must have vitamin D or activation of the cell will cease. If the T cells cannot find enough vitamin D in the blood, they won't even begin to mobilise."

This really points out the absolute vital importance of adequate levels of Vitamin D in the body, and especially for those who have a compromised immune system.

In another study, it was found that taking both Vitamin D and Vitamin A together (both found naturally in fish oil) have been beneficial in reducing the incidences of colds. The two vitamins taken along with Vitamin C, act as a preventative measure. Researchers have reported that the acidity of the gastric juices is affected by the amount of Vitamin D in the diet. These juices are named as a cause of stomach ulcers. Therefore an ulcer patient should be checked to see whether their diet has a sufficient supply of Vitamin D and if not, supplementation should be considered.

Food sources of Vitamin D...

Food sources of Vitamin D include:

  • Sardines, salmon, cod liver oil, halibut, prawns, fish roe and fish oils
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Egg yolks (particularly organic eggs)
  • Mushrooms
  • Naturally produced dairy products
  • Green leafy vegetables that have been grown in the sunshine

Can you have too much Vitamin D?

Pathological changes can occur in the body with an excess of Vitamin D - also known as hypervitaminosis D. Excessive amounts may cause high levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood and excessive excretion of calcium in the urine. This leads to calcification of soft tissues and of the walls of the blood vessels and kidney tubules, known as hypercalcemia.

Symptoms of acute over dosage of Vitamin D are increased frequent urination, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscular weakness, dizziness, weariness and calcification of the soft tissues of the heart, blood vessels and lungs. These symptoms will disappear within a few days when the over dosage is terminated.

Healthyonline stock a number of quality Vitamin D Supplements

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

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