Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D refers to a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc
Vitamin D refers to a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system and healthy inflammatory response, normal absorption/utilisation of calcium and phosphorus, normal blood calcium levels, the maintenance of normal bones, the maintenance of normal muscle function, the maintenance of normal teeth, it has a role in the process of cell division and is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children.
Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body. It assists in:
promoting healthy bones and teeth
supporting immune, brain, and nervous system health
regulating insulin levels and supporting diabetes management
supporting lung function and cardiovascular health
influencing the expression of genes involved in cancer development
Read on to find out about these roles in more detail:
- Healthy bones
Vitamin D plays a significant role in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood. These factors are vital for maintaining healthy bones. People need vitamin D to allow the intestines to stimulate and absorb calcium and reclaim calcium that the kidneys would otherwise excrete.
Vitamin D deficiency in children can cause rickets, which leads to a severely bowlegged appearance due to the softening of the bones. Similarly, in adults, vitamin D deficiency manifests as osteomalacia, or softening of the bones. Osteomalacia results in poor bone density and muscular weakness. A vitamin D deficiency can also present as osteoporosis, for which over 53 million people in the United States either seek treatment or face an increased risk.
- Reduced risk of flu
A 2018 review of existing research suggested that some studies had found that vitamin D had a protective effect against the influenza virus. However, the authors also looked at other studies where vitamin D did not have this effect on flu and flu risk.Further research is, therefore, necessary to confirm the protective effect of vitamin D on the flu.
- Healthy infants
Vitamin D deficiency has links to high blood pressure in children. One 2018 study found a possible connection between low vitamin D levels and stiffness in the arterial walls of children. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) suggest that evidence points to a connection between low vitamin D exposure and an increased risk of allergic sensitization.
An example of this is children who live closer to the equator and have lower rates of admission to hospital for allergies plus fewer prescriptions of epinephrine autoinjectors. They are also less likely to have a peanut allergy. The AAAAI also highlight an Australian study of egg intake. Eggs are a common early source of vitamin D. The children who started eating eggs after 6 months were more likely to develop food allergies than children who started between 4–6 months of age.
Furthermore, vitamin D may enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids. This benefit makes it potentially useful as a supportive therapy for people with steroid resistant asthma.
- Healthy pregnancy
A 2019 review suggests that pregnant women who are deficient in vitamin D may have a greater risk of developing preeclampsia and giving birth preterm. Doctors also associate poor vitamin D status with gestational diabetes and bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women. It is also important to note that in a 2013 study, researchers associated high vitamin D levels during pregnancy with an increased risk of food allergy in the child during the first 2 years of life.
Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.
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