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Vitamin DO!

By Dr. Kaycee Reyes

"A little bit of sun never hurts anyone!" This quote may be talking about the sun's warmth, the summer season, or even the beach, but it may also pertain to vitamin D that we mostly get from sunlight. While all vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are crucial for good health, vitamin D is one of the most versatile ones. It does not only ensure strong bones and teeth; apparently, it can also help in organ function, boost the immune system, fight infection, reduce cancer risk, and even prevent depression. Now that's a vitamin Do!

Vitamin D goes through several processes from the time the skin, the epidermis, gets exposed to the sun, particularly ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. When it converts to a vitamin D precursor in our skin through a chemical process, it then travels through our bloodstream and gets metabolized in the liver and to the kidneys, turning it into an active form of vitamin D, or a hormone called Calcitriol (or 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D), also called ergocalciferol(vitamin D2), cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), or calcidiol (25-hydroxyvitamin D). It is then released into the bloodstream and binds to proteins to be brought to other organs, tissues, and bones to be stored or used as needed for optimal health. Vitamin D can:

?*?regulate calcium and phosphorus that is beneficial for healthy bones

?*?lessen the risk of flu and infection as it helps strengthen the immune system

?*?lessen the risk of Type 2 diabetes as it can produce a negative effect on insulin resistance and glucose absorption

?*?supports a healthy pregnancy as it lessens the risk of gestational diabetes, preterm birth, preeclampsia, and other complications

?*?regulates cell growth and slows down or reduces cancer cell growth, preventing certain cancers such as colon, breast, and prostate cancer

?*?improve symptoms of depression, as it has receptors in the brain that may possibly affect serotonin levels

Given that vitamin D is essential to health, are we getting enough? Apparently not. According to a 2013 study conducted by the Philippine College of Occupational Medicine and the Philippine Neurological Association, as high as 70 percent of Filipinos are deficient in vitamin D. Getting insufficient amounts can introduce a lot of illnesses. Lack of vitamin D has been linked to:

*bone problems such as rickets, or bone softness among children, and osteomalacia, or bone pain and weak muscles

?*?diabetes

?*?hypertension

?*?autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis

While it has been reported that we get as much as 90 percent of vitamin D from the sun, it is not the case right now, especially those who live in developed countries. In fact, as much as 50 percent of our world population does not get enough vitamin D, which may be attributed to location (those living in areas with little sunlight throughout the year, working or spending most time at home or in offices), skin color (as those who have darker skin have more melanin that limits vitamin D absorption), diet (especially those in no-meat diets, as animal meat is a good source of vitamin D), weight (obese individuals have a harder time absorbing vitamin D), age (older individuals have kidneys that are less efficient in converting vitamin D for use), and disease (Crohn's or celiac disease may inhibit vitamin D absorption in the intestines). One might not notice that they are vitamin D-deficient, since the symptoms are not as obvious or severe. These include being prone to sickness or infection, fatigue, and tiredness, back pain or bone pain, muscle pain, slow wound healing, hair loss, and depression. To maintain optimal levels of vitamin D, Filipinos are recommended a daily vitamin D intake of 600 IU from ages one to 70 years old and 800 IU for 71 years old and up.

There are vitamin D tests that you can ask your physician about to determine the current level that your body has. If deficient, change your diet, add daily vitamin D supplements, or take more time under the sun (10 to 15 minutes) in the midday sun. Do not go overboard with sun exposure though, as too much can give a host of skin problems. Get enough of this sunshine vitamin, and you'll have healthier days ahead!

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Title Annotation:Well-Being
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Feb 27, 2018
Words:704
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