Vitamin D and its health benefits

Research Based
Medically reviewed by - Dr. MESSANGA Dimitri, MD Written by - Dr. Shaheen Shah


What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D (calciferol or sunshine vitamin) is a fat-soluble vitamin produced by our body naturally or that can be obtained from certain foods in the environment.

Facts about vitamin D

  • Vitamin D can be obtained from direct sunlight, diet and health supplement. Vitamin D health supplement tablets are available in two kinds- cholecalciferol (vitamin D3 ) and ergocalciferol vitamin D2)
  • Vitamin D2 is produced naturally in fungi and plants
  • Vitamin D3 is produced naturally in humans and other animals
  • Vitamin D is produced in our skin internally when the ultraviolet rays of the sun fall on our skin’s surface
  • Vitamin D obtained from diet or sunlight is always inactive inside our body. Within our body, the following reactions are required for its activation-
  1. In the liver, the first vitamin D hydroxylation reaction (C-H bond converts to C-OH bond) takes place by the enzyme(proteins to make the response faster) vitaminD-25-hydroxylase to form 25 hydroxy vitamin D or 25(OH)D and is the primary form flowing in our blood.
  2. In the kidney, a second hydroxylation reaction forms the active vitamin D (1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D) required for bodily functions such as calcium and phosphorus absorption 1Facts about vitamin D | Researched based study from .
Vitamin D (calciferol or sunshine vitamin) is a fat-soluble vitamin produced by our body naturally or can be obtained from certain foods in the environment.


Deficiency symptoms of vitamin D

Symptoms in children

  • Bone pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint pains
  • Joint deformities

Symptoms in adults

  • Extreme muscle weakness
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Remaining stressed

Diseases due to vitamin D deficiency

Osteoporosis disease

Characteristics are:

  • Weak bones
  • Brittle bones

Rickets disease

Rickets occurs in children with following characteristics

  • Abnormality in bone development
  • Soft and weak bones
  • Bone pain
  • Bone deformities

Osteomalacia disease

Osteomalacia occurs in adults with following characteristics

  • Soft and feeble bones
  • Bones bend and crack
  • Severe bone pain
  • Muscle weakness 2Diseases due to vitamin D deficiency| Researched based study from


How much vitamin D does our body require?

  • People between 1 to 70 years of age require around 600 IU(International unit, and one microgram of vitamin D =40IU ) of vitamin D
  • While for older people above 70 years, the required amount is 800IU


Food sources rich in vitamin D

  • Sardines
  • Herrings (type of small fish)
  • Salmons
  • Shrimp
  • Swordfish
  • Red meat
  • Beef Liver
  • Egg yolk
  • Mushroom
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereals
  • Milk (cow)
  • Soy milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Orange juice
  • Kale (leafy cabbage)
  • Cod liver oil (available as a health supplement)
  • Canned tuna (fish) 3Food sources rich in vitamin D| Researched based study from


Health benefits of Vitamin D.

Health benefits of vitamin D

Enhances the body’s immune system

  • Prevent infections from bacteria and viruses
  • Reduces swelling and redness
  • Activating enzymes and vitamin D receptors are present on the surface of white blood cells maintaining the immune system activities.4Health benefits of vitamin D | Researched based study from

Helps form stronger muscles and bones

  • Controls and adjust the calcium and keep up the blood phosphorus level.
  • Stimulate the intestine to absorb the calcium and helps in mineralization of bones.
  • However, the intestine’s unabsorbed calcium is excreted by the kidneys. 4 Health benefits of vitamin D| Researched based study from

Lowers diabetes risk

  • Vitamin D lowers blood sugar levels.
  • It helps control the hormones; insulin (a hormone that allows blood glucose to enter muscle, liver and fat) and glucagon (a hormone that stimulates glucose production in the liver) 5Health benefits of vitamin D | Researched based study from

Lowers risk of certain diseases

  • Vitamin D slows down the tumor formation.
  • Prevents diseases like arthritis and Parkinson’s disease.

Maintains good oral health

  • Vitamin D absorbs calcium and phosphate, essential in building stronger tooth enamel
  • It prevents tooth decay
  • It re-establishes the tooth enamel layer destroyed due to dietary deficiency.
  • It maintains the tooth dentin(a portion of the tooth below the enamel) 2Health benefits of vitamin D | Researched based study from
  • It Enhances the mineral and deposits calcium in the bones

Maintains the mental health

  • Enhances the mood and prevents mood changes
  • Prevents depression 5Health benefits of vitamin D| Researched based study from

Healthy Heart

  • Maintains the health of heart
  • Prevent heart attacks
  • Prevent serious heart diseases by reducing inflammation.

For growth and development

  • It increases the testosterone (male sex hormone) and serotonin(a hormone that helps keep a good mood) hormone levels.
  • It affects fat cell formation and fat storage
  • It helps in good infant health
  • Vitamin D absorbs the calcium and phosphorus required to maintain strong bones and teeth in infants. 4Health benefits of vitamin D | Researched based study from

Helps maintain a healthy pregnancy.

  • It helps in absorbing the correct amount of calcium and phosphorus required for developing a baby’s healthy teeth and bones as well as in healthy organ development such as heart and kidney.
  • It prevents delivering premature babies

Prevent early death

  • Adequate vitamin D in the body helps in living a longer life

Prevent multiple sclerosis disease

  • Vitamin D slows multiple sclerosis disease (a disease of the spinal cord and brain) progression.
  • Lowers the multiple sclerosis disease risk 4Health benefits of vitamin D | Researched based study from

Some newer health benefits of vitamin D

  • Reduction of long-term pain
  • Giving birth to healthy babies with good birth weight
  • Reduction of old age mental decline
  • Having less frequent asthma (disease-causing breathing difficulty) attacks
  • Reduced common cold infections
  • Fast recovery after surgery 5Health benefits of Vitamin D| Researched based study from

However, more vitamin D research is required to validate the above newer benefits.

Adverse effects

Adverse effects of vitamin D

Too much of vitamin D intake can lead to

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Extreme weakness
  • Lethargic
  • Constipation
  • Heart problem
  • Kidney malfunctioning


People at risk of vitamin D deficiency

Home confined people

  • Lack of sun exposure causes vitamin D deficiency
  • People in indoor jobs often suffer from such deficiency

Growing Age

  • Vitamin synthesis decreases with increasing age.
  • Aged people over 65 are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
  • Sometimes, breastfed babies also suffer from Vitamin D deficiency as breast milk only contains a slight amount of vitamin D

Skin color

  • Dark colored skin people suffer from vitamin D deficiency
  • In dark colored skin people, vitamin D synthesis is more complex than light colored skin people

People with bowel disease

  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin; its absorption depends on the intestine’s ability to absorb fat.
  • Incorrect fat absorption in bowel disease leads to vitamin D deficiency

People living on vegetables

  • Most Vitamin D-enriched food is animal products like eggs and fish, so people with a vegetarian diet will likely suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.

People with severe headaches

  • Research has found that people with regular headaches suffer from vitamin D deficiency. However, more research is warranted to confirm the link between headaches and vitamin D.

People with increased weight

  • Obese people often have vitamin D deficiency because the body fat obstructs the vitamin D circulation in the blood. But this is true in some cases.

People taking certain medicines

Certain medicines cause vitamin D deficiency. They are

  • Certain weight-controlling drugs (orlistat),
  • cholesterol-lowering drugs(cholestyramine)
  • certain corticosteroid drugs (prednisone)
  • Anti-seizure drugs (phenytoin)


Prevention of Vitamin D deficiency

  • Taking adequate vitamin D in the diet
  • Taking daily morning sunlight
  • Consuming vitamin D fortified (enriched) food
  • Taking multivitamins containing vitamin D.

However, it is always recommendable to consult a physician for enough vitamin D.

Disclaimer: The user acknowledges that this article's information is being offered for informational purposes only. Every attempt has been made to guarantee that the article is informational and correct. If they have any doubts or questions about their health, we firmly advise our readers to visit a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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