It is the vitamin abundantly supplied to us. It gives us energy. ItÂ’s good for the bones and itÂ’s good for the teeth. It is very well known as vitamin D.
It is the vitamin abundantly supplied to us. It gives us energy. It’s good for the bones and it’s good for the teeth. It is very well known as vitamin D.
But why do we call it the “sunshine vitamin?” Of all the known vitamins, vitamin D is probably the least found in food. It looks as if nature has provided it to us in its provitamin form (preliminary form) in the oily material of the skin ready to be transformed into vitamin D. It is in this transformation where the sun plays its important role as to be closely associated to being the source of the vitamin. When the skin is exposed to sunlight, the short wavelengths of the light cause the transformation of some of the oily substance known as 7-dehydrocholesterol, into vitamin D. The vitamin is then carried by the blood to where it is needed. The few food items that may supply some of the vitamin are fatty fishes, egg yolk, butter fat, and livers.
Vitamin D is very closely associated with the development of bones and teeth, even if the vitamin itself does not become an essential constituent of the bones and teeth. Its role is indirect. There are two very important substances known as minerals, in the form of calcium and phosphorus, that are deposited in the bones and teeth for strength and form. These two minerals naturally come from food. It is in the process of absorption of these minerals, calcium in particular, where vitamin D plays its role. It enhances the absorption of the minerals through the intestinal walls, thus maintaining good supply in the blood. Since calcium and phosphorus are abundant in milk, and milk alone does not contain sufficient amount of vitamin D, almost all milk preparations now have been fortified with vitamin D.
Mother’s milk does not contain sufficient vitamin D, either. However, this can easily be supplemented by exposing the bare legs or arms of the baby to the morning sun for a few minutes every day. Remember, window glass, clouds, dust, and clothing block the ultraviolet rays of the sun. The light may be going through the window glass, but the short wave lengths of sunlight are blocked so that the transformation of the substance in the skin may not take place.
What can happen to a child who is vitamin deficient? Everyone, of course, expects no less than a normally developed child. While the effects of lack of vitamin D may not necessarily cause death, they are usually irreversible and last for a lifetime. For babies three years and below, the condition is rickets. The following characteristics are typical: retarded growth, bowlegs, knock-knees, enlarged bones about the joints, and pigeon-like chest.
For older people and pregnant women, low intake of the vitamin may result in weakness and softening of the bones known as osteomalacea. The joints become weak and the bones brittle. They become accident prone and may sustain fractures.
There are special stages in life when special care should be taken to ensure adequate supply of vitamin D.
1) During rapid growth and development – from birth to three years old, and during early adolescence.
2) During pregnancy and old age. The greater the body’s demand for calcium and phosphorus for bones and teeth development, the greater is the demand for vitamin D.
Like vitamin A, vitamin D is measured also in international units (I.U.) The suggested amount for daily requirement is 400 I.U. This, however, is not easy to measure since there are only a few food items that contain vitamin D. The known amount in fortified milk is about 400 I.U. for every four cups or one quart liquid whole milk. Fish-eating people should get some amount from the fatty fishes. People in the tropics should avail themselves of the sunshine to generate the formation of the vitamin in the skin. Office workers should go out in the sunlight without umbrellas for a few minutes and expose their delicate skin. Old folks should be encouraged to go outdoors and get the benefit of the sun rays.
To obtain vitamin D is simple, but sometimes it needs will power.