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What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D, also known as “calciferol” is a fat-soluble vitamin naturally available in certain foods and added to others. One can find Vitamin D available as a dietary supplement. However, it is also produced within the body. Its synt hesis is triggered when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin. The first reaction to synthesize Vitamin D occurs in the liver and the second in the kidney to produce a version of Vitamin D that can be used in the body.

Functions of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential in our body so we can remain healthy. This vitamin fulfills many bodily functions. Broadly speaking, some of these are as follows:

  • Ensuring your bones stay strong:

Keeping your bones healthy protects you from a variety of conditions like rickets. Rickets is a disorder that results in children having bones that are both soft and weak. Rickets is the direct result of a lack of Vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is necessary so that both phosphorus and calcium can be used in tandem to build better bones. Having soft bones as an adult is diagnosed as a condition called osteomalacia.

  • Absorbing calcium:

Along with calcium, Vitamin D can help build bones and also keep these bones strong and healthy. Having weak bones can result in a loss of bone density which increases the risk of developing a fracture, and in more severe cases leads to osteoporosis. Vitamin D, either taken orally or through exposure to sunshine is converted into its active form within the body. This active form promotes the absorption of calcium from your food.

  • Working with parathyroid glands:

By communicating minute-by-minute with the gut, kidneys, and skeleton, the parathyroid glands work to balance the calcium in the blood. When sufficient calcium exists in one’s diet, in addition to sufficiently active Vitamin D, one’s dietary calcium is absorbed and put to good use throughout one’s body. If one’s calcium intake remains insufficient or one’s Vitamin D levels drop, then one’s parathyroid glands will ‘borrow’ calcium from one’s skeleton so that the blood’s calcium can remain within a normal range.

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

As established, Vitamin D plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy body. What benefits does it afford us through its function?

1. Healthy Bones

The fundamental function of Vitamin D is that it is involved in calcium regulation and therefore impacts and bone function. Hence, it is vital for maintaining healthy bones. Most people need or absorb Vitamin D so that they can both stimulate and absorb calcium as well as reclaiming the calcium that would otherwise be excreted by their kidneys. Stronger bones mean a lower risk of rickets, osteomalacia, osteoporosis. Overall this results in lower chances of experiencing fractures.

2. Immunity Against Flu

A 2018 meta-analysis that compared experiments conducted on Vitamin D and its relationship with the influenza virus concluded that it has a protective effect. However, the authors also considered how other studies did not find this relationship to be the case. Currently, the consensus on Vitamin D and the flu is that it could potentially strengthen one’s immune response, but more research is required to validate this link.

3. Healthy Babies

In children, a Vitamin D deficiency is linked to high blood pressure. One study conducted in 2018 found a possible link between the stiffness of arterial walls in children and low Vitamin D levels. It has also been observed that children who live closer to the equator (more sun exposure) have lower rates of admission to hospitals for allergies as well as fewer prescriptions of epinephrine autoinjectors. These children are also not as likely to have a peanut allergy.

Eggs are a Vitamin D rich food. Children who began eating eggs after 6 months increased their likelihood of developing food allergies than children who started consuming eggs between 4–6 months of age. To add to this, Vitamin D rich foods also enhance the anti-inflammatory effect of glucocorticoids. For those who struggle with steroid-resistant asthma, this benefit makes Vitamin D a potentially useful supportive therapy.

4. Safe Pregnancy

One review published in 2019 indicated that pregnant women deficient in Vitamin D might have an increased risk of developing preeclampsia and giving birth preterm. Gestational diabetes and bacterial vaginosis are also conditions that have been associated with the lack of adequate consumption of a Vitamin D diet. It is also important to keep in mind that, in a study conducted in 2013, researchers associated higher Vitamin D levels during one’s pregnancy with a greater risk of developing a food allergy in the child during the first two years of life.

Causes of Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiencies can occur for a slew of reasons. Some of them are as follows:

  • Skin type:

Using sunscreen and having melanated skin can reduce the body’s ability to absorb UVB rays from the sun. Over time this can result in a Vitamin D deficiency.

  • Sunscreen:

A sunscreen with an SPF or ‘sun protection factor’ of at least 30 has the potential to reduce the body’s ability to synthesize Vitamin D by 95% or more. Covering skin with dark-colored cotton clothing can also prevent it from absorbing UVB rays.

  • Geographical location:

People living in northern latitudes, those around a lot of pollution, people who work night shifts, or are often home-bound for their work are at risk of low sun exposure resulting in a deficiency. This can be counteracted by consuming a Vitamin D diet.

  • Breastfeeding:

Infants who exclusively breastfeed tend to need a Vitamin D supplement, especially if they have darker skin or minimal sun exposure.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency

A Vitamin D deficiency can present itself in any of the following ways:


  • regular infection or sickness

  • bone and back pain

  • fatigue

  • low mood

  • hair loss

  • impaired wound healing

  • muscle pain

A chronic Vitamin D deficiency can result in highly dangerous physiological outcomes such as cardiovascular illness, infections, certain cancers, pregnancy complications, neurological disorders, and autoimmune diseases.

Sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D can be consumed orally through one’s diet, or a Vitamin D supplement. Alternatively, it can be synthesized within the boy through regular sun exposure. The following make for good sources of Vitamin D.


  • fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon, and tuna

  • cheese

  • egg yolks

  • mushrooms

  • beef liver

  • fortified cereals and juices

  • fortified milk

The below table gives an idea of the vitamin D rich foods and the quantity of vitamin D present in them.


Percent (Daily Value)

Micrograms (mcg) RAE per serving

Cod liver oil (1 tablespoon)



Trout (rainbow), 3 ounces



Mushroom (½ cup)



Milk (cow), 1 cup



Egg 1 large, scrambled



Cheese cheddar 1 ounce



Chicken breast 3 ounces




Vitamin D is essential for the regulation of calcium in one’s blood, which thereby impacts one’s bones. It can be consumed orally through Vitamin D rich food or a Vitamin D supplement, or getting regular sun exposure. A chronic Vitamin D deficiency can result in highly dangerous physiological outcomes such as cardiovascular illness, neurological disorders, and autoimmune diseases. Fortify your food with Vitamin D and your finances with a health insurance policy to ensure you are equipped to deal with health complications if they arise.

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