Vitamin D helps in the development of bone and tooth formation. It also helps maintain heart action and nervous system function. For example, in order for our muscles to move, Vitamin D is needed by nerves to deliver messages between the brain and every part of our body. Vitamin D is also essential for our immune system to help fight off viruses and bacteria invading our body. Together with Calcium, Vitamin D helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is also referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” Small amounts of sun exposure (10-15 minutes twice a week) induce the body to make sufficient vitamin D from cholesterol. There is also a selection of foods that Vitamin D is present, such as:
• Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, and mackerel)
• Beef liver
• Egg yolks
• Fortified milk
• Fortified margarine
If you shun the sun, suffer from milk allergies, or follow to a strict vegan diet, you may be at risk for a Vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms include bone pain and muscle weakness. If you think you might have a Vitamin D deficiency, talk to your primary care physician about a supplementation. Adults are susceptible to develop osteomalacia, a condition where the bones become weak and susceptible to fractures. A vitamin D deficiency in children can cause rickets, a condition that affects bone development and can cause bowed or curved bones.
If too much Vitamin D is consumed, calcium and phosphorus levels are elevated. This can lead to headache, nausea, and eventually calcification of the kidney, lungs, heart, as well as the tympanic membrane of the ear. If not treated properly, this can even lead to deafness.
The daily recommended intake for both men and women is 15 micrograms.