People are often talking about eating a healthy and well balanced diet, and one of the main reasons is that by eating and drinking the correct blend of healthy foods and drinks, you not only get all of the nourishment that you need, but your body can also extract the essential vitamins and minerals that it relies on to function at optimum performance.
One of the most important vitamins for healthy body function is vitamin D. Vitamin D2 is manufactured by many plants, whereas vitamin D3 is produced in the human body (in the skin in particular) as a result of exposure to sunlight or UVB. Both of these vitamin D derivatives are essential for helping to control the amount of calcium and phosphorus in your bloodstream. What vitamin D actually does is to help your body absorb small quantities of calcium, which as you may well know is essential for helping to form good healthy bone structure. But in addition to that, vitamin D, when working either under its own steam or in conjunction with calcium, is particularly important in improving the density of your bone tissue, thereby helping to avert and minimize any fracturing. But that’s not all
Vitamin D also plays an important part as a crucial regulator, enabling your immune system to function at optimum performance levels. It facilitates the manufacture of one of your body’s key peptides, (cathelicidin), a natural peptide that your body’s immune system produces when it’s under invasion from any bacteria, fungi, or viral based threat.
As with all vitamins it is essential that their levels should be controlled within certain parameters; having low levels of vitamins will impede healthy body function in one way or another, dependent on the exact vitamin deficiency, whilst having excess quantities of vitamins may also create vitamin toxicity.
In terms of suffering from a deficiency of vitamin D, the illnesses or conditions that may be caused include Ricketts and Osteomalacia. Ricketts can be especially damaging in young children, and the lack of calcium can help to contribute to bone deformation. In an adult however, when Osteomalacia is diagnosed, the patient may experience a weakness of the muscles, and a reduction in bone integrity, opening the way for brittle bone disease, also known as osteoporosis.
But it doesn’t stop there. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked with the onset of many other diseases, such as a variety of forms of cancer, increased vulnerability to cardiovascular problems, a heightened risk of contracting type 2 diabetes; greater chance of developing muscular sclerosis, and an aggravated probability of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis – all in all, a very worrying combination of ailments.
It’s all very well to look at one side of the argument, but in order to get a balanced view you also have to take the alternative arguments into consideration. If, in an attempt to avoid vitamin D deficiency, you were to modify your diet to increase the amount of foods you eat that contain it; if you subjected your body to longer exposure to UVB or sunshine, and you also took liberal dosages of vitamin D supplements – what would be the effect? Well the answer is diddley squat – nothing!
In order to suffer from vitamin D toxicity, you would have to take obscene amounts of supplements, spend countless hours of time exposing your skin to the Sun, and eat yourself to explosion point with vegetables that contain vitamin D. That’s not of course to say that you should allow any of these things to happen, but it merely goes to show that it is extremely unlikely that you would incur vitamin D toxicity through overexposure of one type or another.
Having said that, you would be encouraged to ingest a natural form of Vitamin D3 as opposed to an artificial supplement, therefore cod liver oil would be an excellent choice. Search for a certified PBC free brand of cod liver oil. Three to four cod liver oil supplements daily would be recommended and by the way cod liver oil is excellent for combating constipation!
It is important that you get as much of your Vitamin D from natural sources such as the sun and your daily diet, but many feel that in most cases this is inadequate and that for optimum levels, Vitamin D supplementation is required.
The Vitamin D Council states that our bodies use around 3,000 to 5,000 IU per day which is far greater than the 600 IU as recommended by the U.S Food and Nutrition Board.
Other medical resources recommend around 1,000 to 2,000 IU. So consider and Upper Intake Level (UL) of around 2,000 IU.
Okay, so now we have perhaps quelled your fears about vitamin D toxicity, you may have divined that it would be wise to modify your diet to ensure you are ingesting enough. So your next logical question will be what foods are rich in vitamin D?
One of the main sources of vitamin D is fish, which is great news because it also contains another important health food, i.e. Omega 3 oil. Other foods that are rich in vitamin D include all types of red meat, (liver too), but for the vegetarians amongst you, mushrooms, (and in particular wild mushrooms that are exposed to plenty of UV), which contain as much as 100% of the vitamin D intake that your body requires!
Having established that it is almost impossible to self generate vitamin D toxicity; having also considered the problems that vitamin D deficiency can generate, let’s close this vitamin D review by summarising its benefits, either through supplemental means, or natural diet. They include:
It can be seen that maintaining the right levels of vitamin D in your body system is an essential element of keeping fit and healthy, and this is even more important for expectant mums. The benefits outweigh any downside by a considerable margin. You should therefore take care to ensure that your body system has the levels of vitamin D that it needs to operate efficiently, to enhance your immune system, and to ward off the many ill effects that a vitamin D deficiency can bring about.
For further information on Vitamin D, we recommend that you view the Vitamin D Council website.
You can also find out more about Vitamin D by downloading a copy of our FREE Budwig Diet Guide. Please click the link below to download your copy.
Image courtesy of gr33n3gg on Flickr.
Victorino Angelino on June 6, 2012 at 5:05 am
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