Did you know that it took more than 200 years to prove the vital role of fat-soluble vitamin D, part of one of the most important microelements for the human body? As the first hint of this, it was the discovery that the consumption of cod liver oil was extremely favorable to the state of rickets.
Tracking the events over time, it is clear that vitamin D was discovered in 1782 and isolated only in the early 1920s, and today, at the beginning of the 21st century, not only its preventive role against racist-like conditions is known, but especially its beneficial effects on the immune and nervous system.
On the other hand, its deficiency and low levels in the body lead to the development of more than 50 pathological conditions, including cardiovascular and neoplastic diseases, as well as decreased resistance and diabetes.
Deficit No. 1 in the modern Western world
Vitamin D deficiency has been found to be the most prevalent in modern countries outside the equatorial and tropical belts. This is particularly true for the countries of North America, Europe, Asia and southern South America. The worst is the population in the northern states of the United States, the Scandinavian countries, the United Kingdom and Russia.
More serious statistics on vitamin D deficiency have begun to be conducted since 1988. The recommended serum concentration of vitamin D at the rate of 75 nmol / L is used as a criterion. If in 1988, 55% of the population suffered from a deficit, then the percentage in 2004 was 77% and nowadays is 79%. Statistics show that nearly 29% of the US population has vitamin D levels below 50nmol / L. Of course, these figures are relative because the percentages change based on the season.
Despite the role of the geographical location, there are also a few places in the tropical belt whose population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. For example, in one of the southernmost Iranian cities, nearly 50% of the population suffers from low vitamin levels. While Iran's influence has cultural peculiarities and clothing, such an excuse does not have the inhabitants of Florida, where 38-40% of the population has levels lower than 50nmol / L.
Certain population groups are subject to a higher risk of deficiency. These are most often faces in various medical conditions, pregnant women and those belonging to races with darker skin.
Although a large proportion of the population does not suffer from a deficiency, it is interesting that vitamin D levels are not optimal for maintaining good health.
What is vitamin D
Vitamin D belongs to the group of fat-soluble vitamins and is rarely found in nature. In the form of the active vitamin, it is mostly found in products of animal origin, including fish liver oil, liver, animal fat, cow's butter, and egg yolk.
The fat-soluble vitamin exists in several varieties (D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5), but only vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol which is activated in the body is converted to a potent steroid hormone) closely related in structure, properties and action on the body.
They are synthesized by cholesterol, and its main source for man is the 7-dehydrocholesterol of the skin that is produced by irradiation with ultraviolet rays.
Transfected into blood, associated with plasma globulins, deposited in the kidneys and liver, and involved in the exchange of phosphorus and calcium. Without vitamin D, the parathyroid hormone, which is a major hormone synthesized and emitted by the parathyroid glands, does not show its full effect.
What do we need to know about vitamin D?
The uniqueness of vitamins is that in minimal amounts they are absolutely necessary to maintain normal activity and human and animal health and for their proper development.
Their lack of food disturbs the correct course of almost all physiological processes. The exception is not vitamin D for which there are already enough scientific facts proving its preventive and curative function.
Proven human benefits
Reduce the risk of falling and bone fractures in the elderly. A stronger effect is noted when combined with calcium;
Improvement of muscle and neural function in the elderly;
Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease or complications of such diseases;
The direct relationship between vitamin D levels and high blood pressure has been demonstrated. Higher vitamin concentrations lead to lower blood pressure;
Directly influences the regulation of secretion of parathyroid hormone. Used as a reference medicine;
A drastic reduction (50%) in the risk of colon cancer;
Reduces the onset of asthmatic attacks in young individuals;
High levels of vitamin D in children are associated with higher height growth. A similar effect in the elderly is not noted;
Improve insulin secretion in people with type 2 diabetes or people at risk. The effect is directly related to the protective properties at the pancreas level;
Improving insulin sensitivity as a result of improved insulin secretion from the pancreas;
Reducing inflammation in systemic lupus erythematosus (wolf);
Reduction of symptoms in tuberculosis;
Slight decrease of proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha with long-term intake;
Low blood triglyceride levels after long-term use;
Increase in low testosterone by 30% in men after one year of use. Low testosterone may result from a vitamin deficiency;
High serum vitamin D levels improve metabolism and calcium absorption;
It drastically reduces the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, and reduces some of the symptoms when it has already occurred;
Supplementation of vitamin D has been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer;
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with mood swings and depression, with a direct link between vitamin D supplementation and reduced symptoms of depression;
Optimal serum vitamin D levels have a positive effect on the quality of the seminal fluid.
Potential human benefits
There are strong assumptions that low levels of vitamin D are associated with fat accumulation. Almost all overweight people suffer from vitamin deficiency. Optimal levels of vitamin D may help maintain a more pure form of body fat;
There is a direct link between high serum vitamin D levels in the elderly and lower mortality. Mortality may decrease due to improved overall health or reduction of falls;
It may reduce the risk of influenza illness;
Controversial results on the increase in physical strength after use of vitamin D. It is possible to increase strength and explosiveness as well as improve recovery after the workout;
Potential benefits in lowering the symptoms of arthralgia (joint pain);
It is possible to reduce the risk of developing Type I diabetes;
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with sleep problems, but at this stage, there is not enough evidence that supplementing with vitamin D can improve the quality of sleep;
Potential Benefits in the Treatment of Atherosclerosis;
Potential Benefits in Regulating Flavor, Using Calcium Metabolism;
The hypotherapeutic protective effect on lungs in smokers.
What are the recommended doses of vitamin D?
The recommended daily intake of vitamin for men and women ranges between 400 IU and 800 IU, but most studies have found that this is an extremely small and ineffective dose.
The recommended safe maximum dose in the United States and Canada is 4,000 IU, although clinical trials have established that a daily dose of 10,000 IU is completely safe and an even higher dose may be administered in some disease states.
Based on the practice, the following recommended doses can be derived:
For adult men and women, a minimum effective dose of 2000-3000 IU per day;
For sportsmen - 3000-5000 IU daily;
For patients with osteoporosis and rickets - 5000-10,000 IU;
For infants and toddlers - 500-1000 IU daily;
In some cases, high doses of vitamin D can lead to intoxication. Daily intake of over 20,000 IU is not recommended. However, if you take the vitamin once a week, then the toxic dose is over 300,000 IU.
Gaining vitamin D from food and the sun
Food sources that contain significant amounts of vitamin D are relatively small. Two categories of food are the main sources:
Cod from cod liver oil - concentration depends on the sources of the oil and the method of processing. Keep in mind that 1 ml of oil provides 2.54-2.78 μg vitamin D;
Dairy products - milk is considered to be a major source of vitamin D, with concentrations relying heavily on milk quality and processing. For information, 230 ml of pasteurized milk provide 100 IU of vitamin D, which is extremely inadequate.
The main natural source of vitamin D is the sun. The UV rays come into contact with the skin and the stored 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted to cholecalciferol (D-3).
In some cases, however, there are factors that reduce the synthesis of vitamin D by the sun's rays:
In the latitudes that are further away from the equator, the synthesis of vitamin D is lower due to weak UV rays;
Time and season. Clouds and darkness reduce the sun's rays;
Combination of latitude and season. In some latitudes in the northern hemisphere, in the period October-March, no vitamin D can be synthesized;
In zones with an ozone layer;
In people with dark skin;
The use of sunscreens that directly affect negatively on vitamin D levels.
Supplementing the body with vitamin D - forms and route of intake
There are two main forms of vitamin D on the market. One is vitamin D-2 (ergocalciferol), which is derived from plants, and the other is D-3 (cholecyciferol) extracted from animals and fish. Vitamin D-3 is one of the best sources of vitamin, cod liver oil.
It is believed that D-3 is better digestible and increases the serum vitamin D levels in the body. There is one study claiming that D-2 is as effective as D-3, but most authoritative studies show the opposite. Therefore, our recommendation is that, when choosing vitamin D as a dietary supplement, it is in the form of vitamin D-3 (cholecalciferol).
Vitamin D is best absorbed with a small amount of fat, and the type of fat does not matter. Some authors recommend combining with fish oil for better absorption. It has been found that vitamin D is better absorbed by 10-20 grams of fat compared to no fat, fasting or with food containing over 35 grams of fat.
What is the overdose of vitamin?
As is known, vitamin D is formed in the skin under the influence of ultraviolet rays of the sun, but the good news is that there is no danger of manifestations of toxicity during prolonged exposure to the sun.
On the other hand, the physiological action of the fat-soluble vitamin is related to the regulation and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus in the body, i. E. vitamin D provides the deposition of both calcium and phosphate ions.
Therefore, its excess would result in unusually high levels of these ions in the blood, resulting in a real risk of damage to the bones, kidneys and soft tissues. This means only one - the additional intake of vitamin must be consulted with a specialist.
The main symptoms of vitamin D overdose are:
Fatigue and irritability;
A headache, vague speech;
Dehydration with consequent constipation;
Reduced appetite and abrupt reduction in body weight (anorexia);
High calcium levels in the blood (hypercalcemia).
Perhaps the question arises as to how to prevent overdosing of the vitamin? And the answer is no doubt easy - by tracking the blood status of the fat-soluble vitamin. Besides, the blood test would give us confidence that the vitamin D level is within normal.
Experts recommend a periodic study (every six months) to protect you from possible toxicity caused by supplemental supplementation of the body.
Treatment in these cases is usually associated with rehydration, stopping any type of vitamin D supplementation, and limiting calcium intake.
Hypersensitivity to the vitamin
In some cases, some people have been shown to be hypersensitive to supplemental vitamin D intake. It is commonly seen in patients suffering from hyperparathyroidism, sarcoidosis, and some types of neoplastic disease. But on the other hand ... which is the reason for the low levels of the fat-soluble vitamin?
The simplest and most logical explanation is the lack of direct sunlight. Given the peculiarities of the climate in the latitude we usually find, we usually wear more clothes than we need.
In addition, vitamin deficiency suffers from people living in large cities, not only because of the daily morning mist that absorbs UV rays but also because of multi-storey buildings.
And last but not least - when we decide to go outdoors, we usually choose a sunscreen product with a high factor that surely provides us with good prevention against burning, skin aging, and cancer but also against vitamin D.
Diseases associated with low levels of vitamin D in the body
Optimal amounts of this vitamin in the body significantly improve the condition and function of the immune, nervous and bone systems, and the shortage is associated with a number of diseases, the most common of which:
Acne, various allergic manifestations, asthma, autoimmune diseases;
Autism, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, dementia, depression;
Kidney failure, arthritis;
Cancer of the breast, colon, and ovary;
Chronic fatigue, colds, and various bacterial and viral infections;
Formation of dental cavities and poorly coordinated teeth, development of paradontosis;
Osteoporosis, osteomyelosis, muscle weakness, pain, rheumatoid arthritis, rickets, frequent sports injuries;
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, tuberculosis;
Diabetes (type 1 and 2), obesity;
What to Combine Vitamin D
Vitamin D can be combined with other fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin K-2. Both vitamins possess similar and complementary properties in terms of cardiovascular activity, insulin sensitivity and motor system.
Vitamin D is combined with calcium because it plays an important role in its metabolism and dramatically improves its absorption.
It is recommended to combine vitamin D with fish oil as a quality source of useful fats.
For general health and combining various health effects, vitamin D is successfully combined with zinc and magnesium.
Where can we find vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a dietary supplement that can be found in most supplement stores as well as in pharmacies.
Vitamin D is sold alone, the most common form is D-3. You can find vitamins in drags, with doses varying between 400 IU and 5000 IU. It is not uncommon for liquid forms in which one drop contains between 400 IU and 1000 IU.
Vitamin D is contained in any multivitamin formula, whether it's sports or daily. Our recommendation is to avoid a product with vitamin D-2.
Vitamin D is almost always present in products with calcium ormineral formulas containing calcium.
We know that vitamins are not a building block, much less a source of energy, but our organism is in constant need of them.
That is why vitamin D, as part of a complex nutritional system to function properly, also needs other excipients. These include calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron and vitamins A and K2. Without them, the functioning of the fat-soluble vitamin will not be effective.
Undoubtedly the best way to get these nutrients is to consume organic food - enough fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and organic animal products - liver, milk, butter, cheese, yellow cheese, yolk, brain, eyes . Choice is a matter of taste.
DISCLAIMER : This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options. Information on this blog should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. The claims made about specific products throughout this blog are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.