Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which when found deficient in the body has various health implications. It is one of the cheapest vitamins. This is because most of it the body derives is from exposure to sunlight. Also called cholecalciferol, vitamin D acts as a hormone in maintenance and utilization of calcium required by the body. The mineral calcium plays a vital role in body.
Active vitamin D stimulates calcium and phosphorus absorption from the walls of small intestine. Aside from the rays of sunlight, this vitamin is also found in milk, fish, eggs, milk products and sprouts.
Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Prolonged deficiency of vitamin D is one of the causes of rickets, a disease affecting the whole body. Most characteristic symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are the failure of the bones to calcify properly. The growth and maintenance of the normal bones largely depends on this. Lack of vitamin D may lead to tooth decay, pyorrhea, brittle or soft bones, retarded growth, and poor bone formation in children.
It may cause muscular weakness, lack of vigor, deficient assimilation of minerals, and premature aging. Lack of this vitamin in children can also give rise to improper activity of the parathyroid gland, and result in convulsions.
Healing Properties Of Vitamin D
Therapeutically if up to 100 to 125 mcg of vitamin D are taken daily by adults, and half this quantity is taken by children, this is a safe dose. However it should not be taken for longer than one month.
- Rickets: Vitamin D plays a very important role in the prevention and treatment of rickets. The therapeutic dose varies from 25 to 125 mcg per day, depending on the severity of the disease. Many preparations under different trade names are available as capsules or palatable syrups, which contain standard amounts of vitamin A and D. For severe cases needing up to 125 mcg per day, a synthetic preparation called calciferol is useful.
- Arthritis: Vitamin D is considered extremely beneficial in the treatment of arthritis. It needs to be taken with calcium for the body to be able to utilize it efficiently.
- Tooth Decay: Vitamin D has been found beneficial in the treatment of tooth decay. Mellanby proved the importance of this vitamin for tooth nutrition in children. She found that she could control and predict the process of tooth formation in children by the quantum of their vitamin D intake. In certain instances, when generous amounts of vitamin D were given to a child, tooth destruction actually ceased, and the other teeth became harder and firmer.
- Bone Repair: Any excess of calcium stored in the long bones serves as a reserve for bone repair when needed. Vitamin D also contributes substantially towards bone repair by increasing calcium absorption through the intestinal wall and re-absorption from the kidney tubules. This vitamin also regulates the deposition of minerals in bones and teeth. It makes the bones strong.
Precautions: Dosages of over 125 mcg taken daily may adversely affect some individuals. Vitamin D toxicity occurs when synthetic vitamin D is consumed orally for months together. The mechanism for its lethality is uncertain, but affected individuals have hypercalcaemia, kidney failure, cardiac failure as well as metastatic calcification.