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18 Oct 2019, Edition - 1557, Friday

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Health Matters

Get your Vitamin D – Enjoy good diet and sunshine

Covai Post Network

Why is Vitamin D essential?

Why is Vitamin D essential? Vitamin D is essential in helping the body absorb and use calcium; in fact, the body cannot absorb calcium at all without some vitamin D. Vitamin D comes from two sources. It is made in the skin through direct exposure to sunlight, and it comes from the diet. Vitamin D helps the intestines absorb calcium. However, the vitamin D must first be activated or “turned on” by parathyroid hormone (PTH). Once activated, vitamin D acts to greatly increase the amount of calcium that the intestines can absorb from food, sometimes by as much as two to four times. Lack of calcium in our diet forces the body to take calcium from bones to keep blood levels normal, which weakens bones

How is Vitamin D useful and what are the issues that could happen children are deficient of Vitamin D?

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is one of the main building blocks of bone. Vitamin D also has a role in your nervous, muscle, and immune systems. In children and adults, symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include bone pain or tenderness, dental deformities, impaired growth, increased bone fractures, muscle cramps, short stature, and skeletal deformities such as rickets. “Rickets is a medical condition tied to low vitamin D levels. Severe vitamin D deficiency in children can cause a disease called rickets – a disorder that softens and weakens the bones and can occasionally lead to skeletal deformities.

What causes vitamin D deficiency?

You can become deficient in vitamin D for different reasons: When you don’t get enough vitamin D in your diet, When vitamin D is not absorb enough from food (a malabsorption problem) and when you don’t get enough exposure to sunlight.

Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

• Breastfed infants, because human milk is a poor source of vitamin D; Older adults, because their skin doesn’t make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight as efficiently as when they were young, and kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form.

• People with dark skin, which has less ability to produce vitamin D from the sun.

• People with disorders such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease who don’t handle fat properly, because vitamin D needs fat to be absorbed. Obese people, because their body fat binds to some vitamin D and prevents it from getting into the blood.

• People who have had gastric bypass surgery, osteoporosis, chronic kidney or liver disease and People with hyperparathyroidism (too much of a hormone that controls the body’s calcium level)

How can I get sufficient vitamin D?

• There are a few foods that naturally have some vitamin D:

• Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, Cheese, Mushrooms, Egg yolks. You can also get vitamin D from fortified foods. Foods that often have added vitamin D include Milk and Breakfast cereals

What are the perils of excess intake of Vitamin D?

• Excess vitamin D can damage kidneys. Too much vitamin D also raises the level of calcium in your blood. High levels of blood calcium (hypercalcemia) can cause confusion, disorientation, and problems with heart rhythm.

• Most cases of vitamin D toxicity happen when someone overuses vitamin D supplements. Excessive sun exposure doesn’t cause vitamin D poisoning because the body limits the amount of this vitamin it produces.

• If you have vitamin D deficiency, the treatment is with supplements. Check with your health care provider about how much you need to take, how often you need to take it, and how long you need to take it

What causes Calcium deficiency?

Insufficient intake of calcium does not produce obvious symptoms in the short term because the body maintains calcium levels in the blood by taking it from bone. Over the long term, intakes of calcium below recommended levels have health consequences, such as causing low bone mass (osteopenia) and increasing the risks of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

What happens if there is not enough calcium?

Symptoms of serious calcium deficiency include numbness and tingling in the fingers, convulsions, and abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to death if not corrected. These symptoms occur almost always in people with serious health problems or who are undergoing certain medical treatments.

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