Vitamin D is needed by children to adults to maintain bone health. But that’s not all the benefits of vitamin D that can be felt by the body. Although labeled as a vitamin, vitamin D is considered as a pro-hormone and not solely a vitamin. Why? Vitamins are nutrients obtained through food or supplements because they cannot be made by the body alone. Meanwhile, vitamin D is able to be produced by our own body.
The source comes from sunlight absorbed by the skin. Several studies have shown, the benefits of vitamin D not only in maintaining bone strength, but also can reduce the risk of autoimmune, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and much more.
Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Calcium and phosphorus are two very important factors in maintaining bone health. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium maximally in the intestine, and helps build strong bones and teeth.
Children with vitamin D deficiency and calcium can develop rickets, where bones become weak and the legs or back can curve. If vitamin D deficiency occurs in adults, it will cause a curved bone condition called osteomalacia. Together with calcium, vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis or osteomalacia in adults and the elderly. Without enough vitamin D, bones become brittle and break easily.
According to animal studies and epidemiological data, the benefits of vitamin D that can be obtained are preventing colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. The active hormone vitamin D called calcitriol is thought to reduce the development of cancer cells by increasing cancer cell death, slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancer tissue, and reducing the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Vitamin D is thought to play a role in brain development and function. One study shows that large doses of vitamin D can reduce symptoms of mild depression. However, other studies show mixed results.
Pregnant women with vitamin D deficiency have a greater risk of developing preeclampsia, giving birth by caesarean section, gestational diabetes mellitus, and bacterial vaginosis. However, excessive vitamin D levels during pregnancy can actually increase the risk of food allergies in children during the first two years.
Some studies have shown that the higher levels of vitamin D in the body, the lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. In patients with type 2 diabetes, inadequate vitamin D levels have a bad effect on insulin secretion and glucose tolerance. One study also showed that enough vitamin D during childhood will make the child avoid type 1 diabetes.
For years, experts have suspected a link between sunlight, vitamin D levels, and autoimmune disorders that damage the nerve. One study showed an association between low vitamin D levels in the body and the risk of multiple sclerosis. But the statement still needs evidence and further research.
In order not to be exposed to various diseases, you can get vitamin D from the following sources:
- Sunlight. When sunlight enters the skin, the body will make vitamin D itself. But, don’t sunbathe too long in the sun, especially if it’s hot. Don’t forget to use sunscreen so that the skin doesn’t burn.
- Vitamin D can be found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, eggs, milk, mushrooms, beef liver, cod liver oil, tuna, yogurt, and others.
By eating foods with balanced nutrition and taking time to be exposed to the sun in the morning, you can maximize the six benefits of vitamin D above.