The health benefits of Vitamin D or calciferol include curing rickets, treatment of osteomalacia, protection against peripheral arterial disease (PAD), cutting the risk of cancer, reducing bone fractures and treating rachitic rosary.
Vitamin D or calciferol is a fat soluble vitamin. It is also called a steroid vitamin which increases the metabolism and absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Normal sunlight is adequate for the production of Vitamin D in the skin. Deficiency of Vitamin D can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
The diseases caused by Vitamin D deficiency are osteomalacia and rickets. Osteomalacia is found in adults. The main symptoms of osteomalacia are an increase in bone fractures, a waddling walk, and muscle weakness. Rickets is a disease of bone found in children. The symptoms of rickets include bowed hand and bowed legs. It happens due to the softening of bones.
Sunlight is the most important source of Vitamin D. Ultra Violet rays from the sun increase the speed of production of Vitamin D in the skin. Fifteen minutes of sun exposure a day is enough to complete Vitamin D requirement. Vitamin D is found in very few foods such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon fishes. Good sources of vitamin D include butter, egg yolks, cod liver oil, and oily fish. Fortified milk also contains some amount of Vitamin D.
Health benefits of vitamin D
Curing Rickets: Vitamin D helps the body to control phosphate and calcium levels in the body. In the case of deficiency of vitamin D, the body is unable to control phosphate and calcium levels. The body may generate other hormones to encourage release of phosphate and calcium from the bones, if the levels of these minerals in the blood become very low. This results in weakening and softening of bones.
Rickets is identified by the X-ray examination of the bones of the legs. Rickets get cured quickly by the extra dose of oral Vitamin D. During the treatment of rickets, the doctor monitors the levels of 25-OH-D in the plasma to raise it to a normal value. The abnormalities in bone slowly disappear.
Rickets are also found due to the calcium deficiency, even when a child is adequately exposed to the sun. For the treatment of this type of rickets, the dose of extra calcium is given along with the dose of Vitamin D.
Treatment of Osteomalacia: Osteomalacia is a disease found in the skeleton. The meaning of the word ‘Osteomalacia’ is soft bones. Minerals, calcium, phosphorus, and matrix comprising collagen, osteoclasts and osteoblasts are four main components of bone. Osteoclasts are bone removing cells and osteoblasts are bone manufacturing cells. The collagen fibers in matrix are covered by minerals. The strength of a bone depends upon the rich mineral coating over the collagen matrix. The mineral coating in good quantity forms strong bone. Osteoclasts eradicate old bone and osteoblasts manufacture new collagen matrix. Osteomalacia takes place if the process of formation of mineral coating does not take place correctly. In this disease, new bones are formed without mineral coating which leads to softening of bones. These types of bones may crack or bend easily. Osteomalacia is treated with the oral dose of Vitamin D and the direct exposure to the sun. The alternative idea for getting ultra violet rays is the use of UV lamps.
Protection against Peripheral Arterial Disease: Vitamin D reduces the chance of peripheral arterial disease. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, which is essential for the bones. Children are asked to sit in the sun for sometime for the absorption of Vitamin D.
Cutting the Risk of Cancer: Studies have shown that high intake of vitamin D can cut the risk of various types of cancers and cardiovascular diseases. It helps to protect against cancers of the prostate, lung, skin, and lymphoma.
Reducing Bone Fractures: Vitamin D rich diets reduce the chances of disabling fractures. Good intake of calcium will not keep the bones strong if Vitamin D is missing or lacking.
Treating Rachitic rosary: It helps in treating rachitic rosary, a beadlike bumps seen at the joints of ribs with their cartilages, found in children along with the disease rickets.