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Vitamin D

Walking on sunshine

Of the essential nutrients our bodies need, vitamin D is one that stands out from the crowd. You don’t get it from eating loads of green veggies (cue sighs of relief); interestingly, the best way to load up on vitamin D is to get in the sun, hence its nickname, ‘the sunshine vitamin’. The action of sunlight on skin triggers our bodies to manufacture vitamin D from cholesterol.

 

Functions
Strengthens bones and muscles. Vitamin D helps ensure that the body absorbs and retains calcium and phosphorus, which are vital ingredients for building bones. Vitamin D also increases muscle strength, which in turn helps prevent falls, as shown in various studies conducted among elderly people.
Guards against heart disease. The heart is a huge muscle that also has receptors for vitamin D. A growing number of studies now associate vitamin D deficiency with cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and sudden heart failure.
Strengthens immunity. Vitamin D plays a regulatory role in our immune system. A 2009 study jointly conducted by three medical institutes in the United States found that vitamin D may help guard against common disorders like the flu and cold. Studies have found the rates for multiple sclerosis to be higher in the far north and south than at warmer climates, and researchers hypothesise that chronic vitamin D deficiency in the former group may be a reason for its susceptibility.
Maintains cognitive function. Research has also shown that vitamin D may help our brains to keep working well later in life. A study among European men aged 40 to 79 found that high vitamin D levels were associated with better performance in memory and information processing.

The United States’ National Institute of Health recommends that an average adult get at least 15mcg of vitamin D daily, while those above the age of 70 get at least 20mcg daily. While very few foods in nature contain vitamin D, variable amounts can be found in fatty fish, dairy products and egg yolks.

Food Sources of Vitamin D

Foods Serving size Vitamin D content
Cod liver oil 1 tablespoon 34mcg
Salmon 85g (3 oz) 11mcg
Vitamin-D fortified milk 1 cup 3mcg
Egg (vitamin D found in yolk) 1 large 1.1mcg
Swiss cheese 1 slice 0.3mcg

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27770350_xlHowever, even on this sunny island many people, especially those with darker skin tones, who are overweight, older, or cover up when in the sun do not get enough vitamin D. Those living in countries at higher latitudes also can’t make much vitamin D from the sun. So how do we know if we are deficient?

Experts suggest taking an annual blood test to determine if your levels of vital nutrients meet the mark. If you fall into any of the abovementioned groups that may be susceptible to deficiency – if you’re a senior, overweight, dark-toned or live in temperate countries – ask your family doctor to order a blood test for vitamin D.

Risks of deficiency include fractures (especially for older adults), infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and the common cold, and higher susceptibility to heart disease and some cancers, e.g. colorectal cancer.

If proven, your family doctor will be able to advise on the appropriate types and amounts of supplement to correct the deficiency.

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References:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/#vitamin-d-references

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php

http://www.nutritiondata.self.com

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-929-VITAMIN%20D.aspx?activeIngredientId=929&activeIngredientName=VITAMIN%20D

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Posted by ezyhealth on Jul 8 2014. Filed under Nutrition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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