The Role of Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin
For proper bone mineralization to occur in our body through calcium balance, vitamin D, which in fact is a hormone, is essential. When the body is exposed to sunlight, nature ensures that vitamin D is produced, hence there is no need for food based supplements.
For light skinned bodies, en exposure of 5 to 15 minutes is sufficient for your body to generate enough vitamin D from the sun everyday during the summer, which can keep you going even in winter. For people with darker skin tones, the time of exposure has to be increased.
In reality, however, the truth is that many people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. People living in large smog filled cities do not actually get the needed exposure to sunlight, thus making them Vitamin D deficient. So it is for dark skinned and home bound people, and people who cover themselves from head to toe. As one tends to become older, his ability to absorb sunlight also decreases.
Food sources of vitamin D
Vegetarian food is not known to contain vitamin D, and even if there is a good source, vegetarians invariably tend to skip it. Liver and Eggs provide them, but liver is not a dependable source, as it contains a high amount of cholesterol and is rigged with contaminants, environmental and otherwise.
One way in which the US has tackled this issue is by fortifying milk and other milk products with vitamin D as a public health measure for years. A well conceived and proactive measure.
The problem encountered here is the varying degree of Vitamin D found in different samples and the actual level needed for supplementing vitamin D in milk. The failure lies in not being able to homogenize the milk and disperse the vitamin D levels to meet the requirements.
Vegetarians and vegans have to depend on fortified nondairy milks like soymilk and rice milk; products like fortified margarine and breakfast cereals are also available. Make sure by reading the labels. Whether Vitamin D has been properly dispersed in these products is yet uncertain.
Food can be fortified using vitamin D2 or D3 also. Vitamin D2, known as ergocalciferol, is obtained from plants or yeast by irradiating provitamin D using UV light. In the case of cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3, contains nonvegetarian ingredients, like fish liver oils, lanolin (shep wool fat). Make sure to identify the source from the labels.
Vitamin D supplements
In case of doubts regarding vitamin D deficiency from poor exposure to sunlight or improper food intake, take advice from a healthcare expert or registered dietician. You may have to supplement your food with vitamin D additions.