Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps in maintaining bone health by aiding the absorption of calcium along with other minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc.
The health benefits of vitamin D are numerous, and it helps in preventing rickets, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and gout. The two forms of this vitamin that are important for human health are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. The richest source of vitamin D3 is the sun. The skin produces vitamin D3 naturally when exposed to sunlight.
Symptoms of Vitamin D3 Deficiency
The only way to know for sure whether you are deficient in vitamin D is through blood test, but there are certain symptoms of vitamin D deficiency that will help you to stay alert.
- Joint pain
- Back pain
- Muscle weakness
- Depression and fatigue
- Excessive head sweating
- Chronic digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease
Diseases Caused by Vitamin D3 Deficiency
Vitamin D3 or vit D3 is also known as “the sunshine vitamin” that can be produced by the body when exposed to sunlight. The most important function of vitamin D3 is absorption of calcium that helps in preserving and improving bone health.
But the deficiency of vitamin D3 can lead to a wide range of diseases. Some of the diseases caused by vitamin D deficiency are as follows:
One of the fatal results of vitamin D3 deficiency is osteoporosis, which results in loss of bone density that makes it prone to breakage even due to sneezing or bumping into objects.
Progressing age and not getting enough calcium in your diet are some of the reasons for osteoporosis and it is more commonly seen in women.
But the intake of calcium alone is not enough to prevent osteoporosis. The combination of calcium and vitamin D plays a very important role in protecting and improving bone health.
Vitamin D is needed for absorption of calcium from the intestines, and it is important to consume a diet rich in both calcium and vitamin D to prevent loss in bone density and improve overall bone health.
Deficiency of vitamin D3 increases the risk of coronary heart disease, one of the major cardiovascular diseases that lead to heart attack.
Coronary heart disease is caused by atherosclerosis – a condition in which plaques buildup on the inner linings of coronary artery, thereby slowing down the blood flow that causes shortness of breath, chest pain and heart attack.
Vitamin D3 helps in protecting the heart by reducing inflammation, improving the elasticity of arterial walls, preventing arterial hardening and lowering the risk of metabolic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
One of the most terrible effects of vitamin D3 deficiency is adult and childhood obesity that has turned into a worldwide epidemic in recent times. Research shows that children who are deficient in vitamin D tend to put on weight more quickly compared to the children who get enough of this vitamin.
Deficiency of vitamin D3 also adds weight around the waistline. Vitamin D boosts the immune system and interacts with the fat tissues. It also improves cellular metabolism and protects the cells against inflammation and oxidative stress that are also linked to body fat.
Research shows that deficiency of vitamin D3 in adults can cause insulin resistance and lead to Type 2 Diabetes, one of the widespread chronic diseases that affect almost 347 million worldwide.
Although in most cases Type 2 Diabetes can be controlled through a well-planned diabetic diet and regular exercise, vitamin D3 supplements also work effectively in controlling Type 2 Diabetes by reducing insulin resistance and improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It promotes proper functioning of the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
PMS and Infertility
Low level of vitamin D has been linked to infertility in both men and women. Vitamin D is important to regulate the balance of progesterone and estrogen level in women that are an important factor in regulating menstrual cycles and improving chances of conception.
It also helps in treating polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and relieving the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Vitamin D is necessary for improving semen quality, sperm count and proper development of the nucleus of the sperm cell in men. In addition, vitamin D also helps in boosting libido in men.
Research shows that vitamin D3 affects the way the brain functions and has an influence on the way we think, behave and act. It has been seen that people who are deficient in vitamin D3 are at a greater risk of developing certain forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. It is a neurological disorder in which the brain cells stop functioning causing memory loss.
Vitamin B3 activates the functions of certain genes that help in clearing amyloid plaques – the key factor in Alzheimer’s disease.
It also helps in protecting the neurons, improves cognitive functions and reduces the risk of developing neurodegenerative and neuroimmune diseases.
Depression and Chronic Fatigue
All of us feel tired and drained at times, and the reason might be excessive stress, workload or lack of sleep. Research shows that people with low level of vitamin D3 are more prone to depression, chronic fatigue, weakness and muscle pain.
This is because vitamin D3 plays an important role in controlling the level and functions of certain proteins in the brain that are linked to mood, motor control and social behavior.
Supplementing vitamin D3 from sunlight or through foods can help in reducing chronic fatigue and boosting energy to keep you active throughout the day.
Some of the food sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, oily fishes, fortified cereals, egg yolk, dairy products, soy milk, beef liver, orange juice, etc. and it can also be consumed in the form of dietary supplements.
The safe level of oral intake is 100 micrograms of vitamin D3 daily (4,000 IU). Include this amazing nutrient in your daily diet and keep joint pains, arthritis and osteoporosis at bay.