Vitamin D is one of the most important minerals required by the body. It is also known as the sunshine vitamin which is produced by the body when exposed to the sun. Besides, there are many foods available which are a rich source of Vitamin D. Our body requires enough Vitamin D for the maintenance of bones and teeth, boosting the immune system, maintenance of nervous system, regulation of insulin levels, and supporting the functioning of lungs and our cardiovascular health.
What is Vitamin D?
Despite how it may seem, Vitamin D is a pro-hormone (and not a vitamin) produced by the body. Unlike any other vitamin, our body can synthesise Vitamin D on being exposed to the sun. Being under sun’s exposure for around 10 minutes around 3 times a week can produce sufficient Vitamin D. But the supply of Vitamin D in the body can run low since it breaks down quickly.
Health benefits of Vitamin D
1. Healthy bones
To maintain the health of bones, it is important to have sufficient levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body. Availability of Vitamin D helps in regulating levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood.
Deficiency of Vitamin D can cause a disease known as rickets. The disease softens bones and makes one bow-legged. In adults, Vitamin D
In adults, deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is one of the most common diseases in post-menopausal women.
2. Prevents cancer
Vitamin D is essential for the regulation of cell growth and their communication. Sufficient levels of Vitamin D slow down the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue and increases death of cancer cells.
3. Reduces risk of diabetes
Sufficient levels of Vitamin D in the body can reduce risk of type 2 diabetes. People suffering from type 2 diabetes will have a negative impact on insulin secretion if their Vitamin D levels are lower than required.
4. Reduces risk of flu
Sufficient levels of Vitamin D helps in reducing risks of diseases like flu.
5. Ensures healthy pregnancy
Vitamin D is considered as an essential requirement for healthy pregnancy. Deficiency of Vitamin D in pregnant women can increase chances of caesarean section. Bacterial vaginosis and gestational diabetes are other risks posed by deficiency of Vitamin D in pregnant women.
However, the levels need to be regulated as high levels of Vitamin D can make the child prone to food allergies during the first 2 years after birth.
Vitamin D deficiency
Even though the body creates Vitamin D, the deficiency can occur because of reasons like darker skin colour or excessive use of sunscreen. Sunscreens with sun protection factor (SPF) 30 are capable of reducing body’s ability to absorb ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
For producing Vitamin D, the body has to be directly exposed to sunlight and not covered by it.
Also, people who stay at northern altitudes or places with high pollution can also be deficient in Vitamin D. They can extract Vitamin D from food sources.
While Vitamin D supplements can be consumed as well, it is recommended to take Vitamin D from as natural sources as possible.
Deficiency of Vitamin D can increase risk of cardiovascular diseases, autism, hypertension, Alzheimer’s diseases, asthma, swine flu and multiple sclerosis to name a few.
Symptoms of deficiency of Vitamin D
Some common symptoms of Vitamin D include poor immune system which makes you fall sick too often; constantly feeling tired or fatigue; pain in the bones and back; depressed mood; slower healing of wounds; loss of hair and muscle pain.
If the deficiency of Vitamin D continues for a long period of time, it can lead to conditions like obesity, diabetes, depression, hypertension, chronic fatigue symptoms, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Recommended intake of Vitamin D
According to the US Institutes of Medicine, the recommended intake of infants upto 12 months is 10 micrograms (mcg), 15 mcgs in children from 1 to 18 years of age, 15 mcg in adult upto the age of 70 and 20 mcg in adults over 70 years of age. Pregnant or lactating women should get at least 15 mcg of Vitamin D.
Food sources of Vitamin D
Fish oil and fatty fish are considered to be good sources of Vitamin D. Besides, cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, fortified skimmed milk, tuna, eggs and chicken are all foods rich in Vitamin D.
Health risks of consuming too much Vitamin D
If Vitamin D is consumed in excess amounts, it can lead to over calcification of bones, and hardening of kidneys, blood vessels, lungs and heart. Also, consuming Vitamin D in excess amounts can lead to conditions like headache, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation and diarrhoea to name a few.
So, instead of focusing in one particular mineral, one should focus on consuming a balanced diet which includes a variety of minerals.
Fruit and Vegetable Juices That Enhance the Immune System
Everyone knows that fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients that offer a wide range of benefits for the mind and body. Certain fresh produce help enhance your immune system, making it possible for you to easily avoid various infections and diseases. Juicing the following allows you to boost your immunity in a truly refreshing and delectable way:
The sweetness of carrot juice makes it loved by kids and adults alike. Carrots get their characteristic bright orange color from its rich supply of beta carotene, a nutrient converted into vitamin A for sharper vision and better eye health. More importantly, vitamin A is an essential nutrient for a stronger immunity.
Vitamin C in lemons makes these citrus fruits excellent boosters of your immune system. Vitamin C is a well-known powerful antioxidant that protects the body from colds, cough, flu and others. Lemon juice may be acidic, but it has an alkalizing property once ingested, helping to restore optimal pH balance in the body.
Other than vitamins and minerals, apples also contain plenty of insoluble fiber. This type of carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the body works as a broom that sweeps out toxins along the intestinal tract. With all of those accumulated poisonous substances out of your body, your immunity is in top-form.
When it comes to fruits, some of the best sources of vitamin C are kiwis. Other than this super antioxidant, kiwis also contain vitamins A and E, both of which are necessary for a stronger immune system. Insoluble fiber and potassium in these fruits are also highly favorable for your cardiovascular system.
Cranberry juice is admired for its ability to bolster the urinary tract system. However, it also contains plenty of vitamin C that helps safeguard you from illnesses brought about by invading microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.
A vegetable that makes for an excellent immune-boosting juice is broccoli, thanks to its rich supply of beta carotene and vitamin C. Every glass of broccoli juice also provides your body with sulphur, a mineral with powerful antimicrobial properties. Sulphur promotes healing as well because it detoxifies the body at a cellular level.
What makes beet juice capable of supporting the immune system is its long list of vitamins and minerals. Some of them include vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, potassium and manganese. When juicing, it’s a good idea to mix beets with other fruits and vegetables of your choice due to its strong, earthy flavor.
Reduce asthma symptoms with Omega-3
A new study has found that consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is linked to fewer childhood asthma symptoms which are triggered by indoor air pollution.
The study published in ‘American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine’, lays out that families and health care providers may be able to protect children from harmful effects of indoor air pollution by serving a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids while reducing foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids such as soyabean oil and corn oil.
“Our group is working on ways to reduce the levels of indoor air pollution in Baltimore City homes,” said lead author of the study, Emily Brigham. “Results are promising, but we don’t want to stop there,” Brigham added.
The study found that for each additional gram of omega-6 intake, children had 29 per cent higher odds of being in a more severe asthma category.
Conversely, with each 0.1-gram increase in levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, researchers saw 3 to 4 per cent lower odds of daytime asthma symptoms.
Indoor air pollution, from sources including cooking, cleaning activities and cigarette smoke, is a known trigger for asthma symptoms.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found abundantly in fish and certain nuts and seeds, are considered healthy as they are known to reduce inflammation.
Omega-6 fatty acids, primarily found in vegetable oils (including corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower), as came out in other studies, have mixed effects on health, but have the potential to promote inflammation.
The researchers, however, noted that it doesn’t prove the relationship between fatty acids and asthma severity.
“Among populations known to be disproportionately affected by asthma, we may find that improving diet and air pollution together has the greatest impact on health,” said Brigham.
New cell that can heal hearts discovered
Researchers have discovered a previously unidentified cell population which could lead to new treatments for patients with injured hearts.
The cell, described in the journal Immunity, was discovered in the pericardial fluid found in the sac around the heart of a mouse with heart injury. The researchers from the University of Calgary in Canada found that a specific cell, a Gata6+ pericardial cavity macrophage, helps heal an injured heart in mice.
The same cells were also found within the human pericardium of people with injured hearts, confirming that the repair cells offer the promise of a new therapy for patients with heart disease. “Our discovery of a new cell that can help heal injured heart muscle will open the door to new therapies and hope for the millions of people who suffer from heart disease,” said Paul Fedak, a professor at the University of Calgary.
“The possibilities for further discovery and innovative new therapies are exciting and important,” said Fedak. Heart doctors had never before explored the possibility that cells just outside the heart could participate in healing and repair of hearts after injury, researchers said.
Unlike other organs, the heart has a very limited capacity to repair itself which is why heart disease is the number one cause of death in North America, they said. “We always knew that the heart sits inside a sac filled with a strange fluid,” said Fedak. “Now we know that this pericardial fluid is rich with healing cells. These cells may hold the secret to repair and regeneration of new heart muscle,” he said.