Vitamin D is not just for healthy bones! It has recently come into the spotlight for its critical roles in immune defence! Known as the sunshine vitamin, it is primarily produced by your body as a response to sun exposure.
Only a few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, though some foods are fortified with the vitamin. Natural sources include fatty fish (such as mackerel, trout, salmon and tuna) while fortified foods include milk, orange juice, cereals and oatmeal).
What’s more, you may not get enough sun exposure to produce adequate vitamin D. Thus, deficiency is very common. Low levels of vitamin D have been documented among the Malaysian population despite being a tropical country with plentiful sunshine all year round.
Are you getting enough vitamin D?
Insufficient vitamin D can affect growth and lead to bone deformities in children (rickets) and bone softening in adults (osteomalacia). Although your body can produce vitamin D from sunlight exposure, a deficiency can occur for many reasons.
Here are the common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency:
- Staying indoors
- Having dark skin
- Being elderly
- Being overweight
- Always using sunscreen
Some of the signs that you may have a vitamin D deficiency include:
- Sleep irregularities
- Muscle aches
- More frequent illness
- Hair loss
Why do you need vitamin D?
Vitamin D activates your immune system, allowing it to better combat illnesses. It also plays a crucial role in the defence against respiratory infections.
Vitamin D is widely known for its role in promoting the absorption of calcium, which contributes to its bone-building power. Together with calcium, it helps prevent osteoporosis later in life.
Lack of vitamin D can lead to poor muscle health, which in turn increases your risk of falls and frailty as you get older. Vitamin D supplementation is found not only slow down muscle loss but help optimise muscle strength.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to low mood and anxiety. Replenishing vitamin D levels in your body may help brighten up your mood and warding off depression.
Studies stated that increasing vitamin D intake can lower high blood pressure and minimise your risk of developing heart disease. It is essential to keep your heart healthy.
Supplementing with vitamin D
Supplementing is an easy and effective way to meet your vitamin D needs and prevent deficiency. Look out for a formula which comes in a base for rice bran oil for enhanced absorption.
Vitamin D comes in two main forms – vitamin D2 and vitamin D3.
|Vitamin D3||Vitamin D2|
|Naturally occurring form of vitamin D||A synthetic form of vitamin D|
|Made by the skin upon sun exposure; found in food and most supplements||Made from plants, molds and yeasts in laboratories|
|More biologically active, significantly increases vitamin D levels in the body||Less biologically active, moderately increases vitamin D levels in the body|
|Longer shelf life in supplements||Shorter shelf life in supplements|