Wondering how to keep diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and multiple sclerosis at bay? Researchers at the Oxford University have found an answer to your query. Vitamin D could protect you from these illnesses.
Risks of vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D regulates the activities of over 200 genes in the body. Some of these genes are linked to autoimmune diseases and certain cancers. With the help of vitamin D receptors, vitamin D binds itself to the DNA at specific locations in the genes. Deficiency of the ‘sunshine vitamin’ significantly increases risk of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and type 1 diabetes.
It also increases the risk of certain cancers such as colorectal cancer, breast cancer and leukemia. Dementia or age related memory loss and cognitive decline is often associated with vitamin D deficiency.
Severe vitamin D deficiency causes rickets. In an earlier study, researchers have found that vitamin D helps to activate the T cells or the killer cells released by the immune system to kill invading microorganisms. Vitamin D deficiency slows down the body’s ability to combat infections. Deficiency of this essential vitamin is also associated with coronary heart diseases due to calcification of arteries.
Vitamin D dose
Some experts fear that nearly a half of the world’s population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. Although, synthesis of vitamin D could be triggered by basking in the sun, fear of sunburn and skin cancer keeps us away from sunlight. Health experts recommend daily sunbathing for about 15 to 20 minutes, without applying sunscreen creams or lotions to the skin.
The early morning and the late afternoon are the safest time for sunbathing. Vitamin D occurs naturally in a handful of food substances.
It is present in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, fish liver oil and egg yolk. To prevent vitamin D deficiency, health experts recommend vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D supplements are especially beneficial for pregnant and lactating women. They are also recommended for young children.
However, standard multi vitamin pills might not contain the recommended dose of vitamin D. Dietary supplements containing 25 to 50 micrograms of vitamin D could be taken to lower the risk of illnesses.