Vitamin d3, also known as cholecalciferol is fat soluble steroid produced by the body via skin when exposed to the sunlight. It is an essential micronutrient that plays a very important role in our body. Technically speaking, cholecalciferol is not a vitamin as the body produce it itself. The more you expose your body to sun the more cholecalciferol your body produces. The amount of cholecalciferol you get from sunlight depends on your location, time of the day, your skin tone and how much skin you expose to sunlight. Fair skin tones get the required amount of cholecalciferol more quickly as compared to darker skin tone.
Cholecalciferol regulates the absorption of calcium thus giving strength to your bones. It also regulates the absorption of phosphorus and boost up you immune system. It support muscle function, keeps your heart healthy, aid in brain development reduce the risk of depression. As it help the absorption of calcium present in your diet, various studies suggest that this helps manage and maintain the level of sugar in your blood and thus reducing the chances of type2 diabetes.
Cholecalciferol and Developing Brain
There are many studies about presence of cholecalciferol receptors in human brain. This shows that there are some chances that it plays a role in the development of brain. Some studies suggest that low level of maternal cholecalciferol has an important role in the ramification of developing brain.
Cholecalciferol and aging
An evaluation of surgically obtained skin from various age groups concluded that as we grow older, our skin produce less amount of cholecalciferol. So people of older age must expose their skin more often to sunlight for more production of cholecalciferol.
Cholecalciferol and function of heart
A study in a research journal shows that after keeping some rats on cholecalciferol deficient diet for several weeks, an increased in blood pressure was observed as a result of the enhancement of the ventricular and vascular contractile function of the heart.
It is observed that individuals with anxiety and depression and other seasonal affective disorders tend to feel better in winters as the exposure to sunlight happens more frequently in winters. This suggests that the presence of cholecalciferol duo to sun exposure is the main factor for such changes.
Around one billion or more people in the world suffer from cholecalciferol insufficiency or deficiency due to their unhealthy life style. Inclination towards indoor activities due to unhealthy lifestyle, obesity or being housebound reduces frequency of exposure to sunlight which in turn results in low level of cholecalciferol. Some of the main causes of cholecalciferol deficiency include.
- Limited Sun exposure means low level of cholecalciferol as it is produced by the body via skin using sunlight.
- Darker skin tone takes longer to produce the requited amount of cholecalciferol
- Being overweight increase the risk of being cholecalciferol deficient as its decreases mobility.
- Being an older adult also decrease mobility and thus increases the risk of being cholecalciferol deficient.
- Living far from equator is also a risk factor as sunlight exposure is very low there
- Always using sunscreen can lead you to vitamin d3 deficiency as it block sunlight
- Staying indoor due to any reason also reduces exposure to sunlight
- Inability to absorb vitamin d3
- Having chronic kidney disease, liver disease or hyperparathyroidism
- Reduce intake of vitamin d3
Symptoms of vitamin d3 deficiency
Some commonly observed symptoms of vitamin d3 are
- Bone pain is one the most commonly observed symptoms. Vitamin d3 help absorb calcium present in your diet. Lack of vitamin d3 means low amount of calcium and consequently lower back pain.
- Gut problems
- Heart diseases
- Low chance of survival
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Bone and hair loss
Cholecalciferol deficiency test
If you have low level of calcium or phosphorus, bone weakness, bone malfunction, depression, muscle weakness, lower back pain or you are an elderly person, you need to test your vitamin d3 levels. In order to test your vitamin d3 lever, a blood sample is drawn from the vein in your arm. If your test result shows inefficiency or deficiency, you need to take it orally either in your diet or as a supplement.
Dietary intake of cholecalciferol
Cholecalciferol deficiency can be managed by obtaining the required amount of vitamin d3 through diet. Following are some the food that are rich in cholecalciferol.
- Rainbow trout: fatty fish are generally considered to have great amount of vitamin d and rainbow trout is one of them.
- Sockeye Salmon : Salmon is a fatty fish having great amount of vitamin d3
- Sardines : It’s a small fish of the family herring having good amount of vitamin d3
- Egg: a study show that an average serve of egg provide 82 percent of recommended daily vitamin d intake.
- Beef liver: 2.5 ounce of a cooked beef liver contain 36IU of vitamin d.
- Oysters consist of a good amount of vitamin d. One raw cup of oysters contain almost 794IU.
- Fortified tofu: 18 gram of tofu consist of about 139 IU of vitamin d.
- Mushrooms: When exposed to sunlight, mushrooms produce a good amount of vitamin d. According to UDSA food composition database, one of a commercial variety of mushrooms contain 976 IU per cup after exposed to ultraviolet light.
- Fortified dairy milk: When fortified, dairy milk contain around 105 IU per cup of serving. Non-dairy milk like rice milk and almond milk contain almost the same amount of vitamin d.
- Fortified yogurt: It contain typically around 88 IU of vitamin d per six ounce of serving.
Vitamin D3 supplements
Vitamin supplements can be taken orally with or without meal. It is said be best absorbed after meal. It is available in either liquid form, chewable tablets or rapidly dissolving tablets. Take the required dose of vitamin very carefully as low dose of it will not fulfill you daily requirement and high dose of it can cause serious symptoms.
Vitamin d supplement normally have no side effects. In rare cases, you may have symptoms like chest pain, feeling short of breath, weakness, metallic taste in your mouth, weight loss, muscle or bone pain, vomiting, constipation and nausea.
High dose of vitamin d3 can have serious effects on the fetus if you are pregnant. So ask your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Effects of exercise
It is found in an study that around 5 hours of intense exercise per week like walking, jogging or playing any intense sports like football reduce the risk of heart attack and individuals with such type of activity have relatively high levels of Cholecalciferol vitamin d3 and good cholesterol.