What is the importance of vitamin D for health and well-being?

People over 70 need at least 800 international units of vitamin D per day to keep their bones strong and healthy.

Vitamin D It is a nutrient needed by the body to strengthen bones and keep them healthy. That is why the body can only absorb calciumthe main component of bones, in the presence of vitamin D.

In addition, this vitamin regulates many other cellular functions in the body. Its properties anti-inflammatory agent, antioxidants And neuroprotective promote health the immune system, muscle function and activities brain cells.

Vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods, but it can be obtained from milk And fortified cerealsAnd oily fishsuch as salmon, sardines and mackerel. The body also generates it when sunlight directly converts a chemical in the skin into the active form of the vitamin (calciferol).

Anyway, The amount of vitamin D produced by the skin depends on many factors.including time of day, season, latitude and skin pigmentation. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, its production can drop to zero during the winter months. While sunscreens are important in preventing skin cancer, they can also reduce vitamin D production.

While vitamin D at recommended doses is generally safe, too much can lead to serious problems, such as heart rate imbalance and kidney damage (Gettyimages).

Many older people do not get regular exposure to sunlight and suffer problems absorbing vitamin D. If your doctor suspects that you are deficient in this vitamin, they may test for it with simple blood test.

Taking a multivitamin with vitamin D can help improve bone health. The recommended daily allowance is 400 international units (IU) for children under 12 months of age, 600 IU for people aged 1 to 70, and 800 IU for people over 70.

In research on the use of vitamin D in specific conditions, one can observe:

  • Cancer. Data on the benefits of vitamin D for cancer prevention are mixed. More research is needed to determine if vitamin D supplements can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency is associated with cognitive decline, although more research is needed to determine its full impact on brain health. getty
  • Cognitive health. Research shows that low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with cognitive decline. However, more research is needed to determine the cognitive health benefits of vitamin D supplements.
  • Hereditary bone diseases. Vitamin D supplements can be used to treat inherited conditions resulting from an inability to absorb and process it, such as hypophosphatemia.
  • Multiple sclerosis. Some studies show that long-term vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis.
  • Osteomalacia. Vitamin D supplements are used to treat adults with a severe deficiency that causes bone mineral loss, bone pain, muscle weakness, and osteomalacia.
Vitamin D is not only vital for bone health; studies show it may also play a role in preventing certain types of cancer (Getty Images)
  • Osteoporosis. Research shows that people who get enough vitamin D and calcium in their diet can slow bone mineral loss, help prevent osteoporosis, and reduce fractures. Talk to your doctor if you need calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent or treat osteoporosis.
  • Psoriasis. Applying a vitamin D preparation or a preparation containing vitamin D or a vitamin D compound called calcipotriol to the skin may help treat plaque psoriasis in some people.
  • Rickets. This rare disease develops in children with vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D supplementation can prevent and treat this problem.

In general it is safe: Without vitamin D, bones can become soft, thin, and brittle. Meanwhile, insufficient amounts are also associated with osteoporosis. If you are not getting enough vitamin D from the sun or food, you may need vitamin D supplements.

Sunscreens, while essential to prevent skin cancer, can also reduce the body’s natural production of vitamin D (Getty Images)

Safety and Side Effects: Vitamin D taken in adequate doses is generally considered safe. However, taking too much vitamin D in the form of supplements can be harmful. Children over 9 years of age, adults, and pregnant and lactating women who take more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day may experience:

– Nausea and vomiting

– Weak appetite and weight loss.

– Constipation

– Weakness

– Confusion and disorientation.

– Heart rhythm problems

– Kidney stones and kidney damage

Anticonvulsants, such as phenobarbital and phenytoin, can reduce the absorption of calcium and vitamin D, highlighting the importance of vigilance in drug interactions (Pexels)

Potential interactions include:

– Aluminum. Taking vitamin D and aluminum phosphate binders, which can be used to treat high serum phosphate levels in people with chronic kidney disease, can cause harmful long-term aluminum levels.

– Anticonvulsants. The anticonvulsants phenobarbital and phenytoin (Dilantin, Fenitek) increase the breakdown of vitamin D and reduce calcium absorption.

– Atorvastatin (Lipitor). Taking vitamin D can affect how the body processes this cholesterol medicine.

– Calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux). Do not take vitamin D with this psoriasis medicine. The combination may increase the risk of excess calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia).

– Cholestyramine (Prevalit). Taking vitamin D with this cholesterol-lowering medicine may reduce the absorption of vitamin D.

– Substrates of cytochrome P-450 3A4 (CYP3A4). Use vitamin D with caution if you are taking medications processed with these enzymes.

People over 70 have specific vitamin D needs: 800 international units daily are recommended for optimal health. getty

– Digoxin (Lanoxin). Avoid taking high doses of vitamin D along with this heart medication. High doses of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which can increase the risk of fatal heart problems due to digoxin.

– Diltiazem (Kardizem, Tiazak, etc.). Avoid taking high doses of vitamin D along with this blood pressure medication, as they may cause hypercalcemia, which may reduce the effectiveness of this medication.

– Orlistat (Xenical, Alli). Taking this weight loss medication may decrease the absorption of vitamin D.

– Thiazide diuretics. Taking these blood pressure medications along with vitamin D increases the risk of hypercalcemia.

– Steroids. Steroid medications such as prednisone can reduce calcium absorption and make it harder for the body to process vitamin D.

– Stimulant laxatives. Long-term use of stimulant laxatives may reduce the absorption of vitamin D and calcium.

– Verapamil (Verelan, Kalan SR). Taking high doses of vitamin D along with this blood pressure medication may cause hypercalcemia and reduce the effectiveness of verapamil.

* Written by the Mayo Clinic staff.

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