Vitamin D is produced in the human body as a response to sunlight exposure. A person can also enhance his/her vitamin D intake through certain supplements and foods.
Vitamin D is a requisite for us due to several reasons, such as it maintains healthy bones because it helps the calcium to be absorbed in the bones and teeth. It also gives us protection against a range of diseases and conditions, for example some autoimmune disorders. Although it is named as a vitamin, in reality, vitamin D is a prohormone or precursor of a hormone. Vitamins are those essential nutrients that our body cannot create and therefore a person must consume them in the diet to compensate for the daily requirement. However, vitamin D is an exception, as the human body is able to produce this vitamin by itself.
In this article, we will briefly look at the role of vitamin D, what happens to the body if we do not obtain it in the required amount, and how to boost its intake.
Functions Of Vitamin D Inside Our Body:
Vitamin D has several roles in the body. Such as:
- Helps in the formation of healthy bones and teeth
- Supports immunity and nervous system health
- Helps to regulate insulin levels and diabetes management
- Supports healthy lung function and cardiovascular system
- Influences the expression of genes that are involved in cancer development
Vitamin D Deficiency:
Although our bodies can make vitamin D on its own. but there is always a chance of a deficiency due to the following reasons:
1. Darker skin: Skin type and sunscreen decrease the skin’s ability to absorb the ultraviolet radiation B rays from the sun. Absorbing sunlight is vital for the skin to produce vitamin D.
2. Sunscreen: A sunscreen or sunblock with a sun protection factor (SPF) 30 can reduce the skin’s ability to make this vitamin up to 95% or even more. Covering the skin with clothing can also inhibit vitamin D production process.
3. Geographical location: People who live in northern latitudes or in high pollution areas, working night shifts, or are homebound should consume more vitamin D from food and supplements sources whenever possible.
4. Breastfeeding: newborns who exclusively breastfeed need a vitamin D supplement, especially if they have a darker skin tone or have less sun exposure.
5. Note: Although you can take vitamin D supplements it is best to obtain any vitamins or minerals through the natural sources.
Vitamin D Symptoms:
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include the following:
- Regular sickness
- Bone and backache
- Low mood and feeling tired
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain and spasms
If Vitamin D deficiency continues for long periods, it may result in complications, such as:
- Cardiovascular conditions
- Chronic muscle and bone pains
- Disc herniation
- Autoimmune problems
- Neurological diseases
- Pregnancy complications
Vitamin D and Hernia:
One of the most common problems among people who suffer from vitamin D deficiency is that they often develop a hernia or strain in the muscle at some stage in their lives. Having healthy and normal levels of vitamin D in our body is essential for our bones. It would seem strange if there was not a ton of research to prove this statement. We already know that having a high level of vitamin D in our system leads to better athletic performance, easier fat loss, and optimum hormonal levels. It also helps women in having better orgasms.
Having low vitamin D has been linked to dozens of health issues, such as weak bones, autoimmune issues, and various fat person diseases.
Another solid reason to supplement, with vitamin D and getting more sunshine is that if you are suffering from low vitamin D level then you are more likely to get injured.
A study was conducted on 216 college football players who were participating in the NFL Scouting Combine. They wanted to find out if there was a correlation between vitamin D levels and muscle strains and spasms, including core muscle injuries also called sports hernias.
With their blood tests, they found that 126 players had abnormally low vitamin D levels in serum, and 22 of them had severe deficiency. The risk of muscle pull injury and sports hernia was more in these players.
The normal value of vitamin D in the blood is given below:
- Normal: 32 ng/mL
- Insufficient: 20-31 ng/mL
- Deficient: Below 20 ng/mL
The conclusion of the whole study was that athletes at greatest risk for lower extremity muscle strain or core muscle injury had lower levels of vitamin D in their blood. This could be related to physiologic changes in those athletes that happen during muscle composition in deficient states.
Hence, it is proved that having the normal value of vitamin D in our system is essential for healthy bones and muscles, and chances of muscle strains, bone pain, and hernia also increase with lower levels of vitamin D in the blood.
Dosage Of Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is often measured in micrograms (mcg) or international units (IU) for dietary supplementation. One microgram of vitamin D is equal to 40 IU.
The recommended daily dosage of vitamin D is as follows:
- Infants 0–12 months = 400 IU (10 mcg).
- Children 1–18 years = 600 IU (15 mcg).
- Adults up to 70 years = 600 IU (15 mcg).
- Adults over 70 years = 800 IU (20 mcg).
- Pregnant or lactating women = 600 IU (15 mcg).
Moderate sun exposure on bare skin for 5 to 10 minutes, 2 to 3 times in a week, helps most of the people to produce sufficient vitamin D. However, vitamin D does not store for very long in the body and breaks down very quickly. It means that stores can run low, especially in winter.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to muscle injuries as well as weak bones, suppressed immune systems, and several other problems. This can sometimes also lead to chronic pains and hernia if left untreated for a long time. Individuals with vitamin D deficiency are more at risk of sports-related hernia, muscle strains, herniated discs, and arthritis at some stage in their lives. Therefore, it is necessary to get this vitamin from its natural sources or use a supplement as an alternative.