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What Does Vitamin D Do And Why Do We Need It In Our Diet?

What does vitamin D do and how much vitamin D do we need? Most people get their vitamin D from sunshine, including vegan vitamin D.



sun

Technically vitamin D is not a vitamin, but a hormone. Our body makes this "vitamin" (I will call it a vitamin as it is generally termed as one) unlike other vitamins such as vitamins C and A.

Vitamin D is a hormone used by the body that we get from either food or by exposing our skin to sunlight. Therefore we need to get our vitamin D from either the food we eat or by exposing ourselves to sunlight. Vegan vitamin D is not a problem for vegans if you spend some time in the sun. If you do not spend time outside, then read on as you may choose to supplement. That includes non vegans too.

WHAT DOES VITAMIN D DO?

Vitamin D is needed to help the body to absorb calcium. Calcium is essential for the development of healthy bones and teeth and a vitamin D deficiency can lead to soft bones. What does vitamin D do apart from help us to absorb calcium? Vitamin D, along with calcium, helps to protect older adults from developing weak and brittle bones. Basically without enough vitamin D, your calcium intake will not be enough to promote healthy bones and teeth.

Many people do not have vitamin D deficiency symptoms, but some symptoms could be:

  • Muscle pains or muscle weakness
  • Bone pains, often in the back, hips or legs
  • Muscle cramps

    Deficiency results in impaired bone mineralization, and leads to bone softening diseases:

  • RICKETS: This is the softening of the bones in children which could lead to bone fractures and deformity
  • OSTEOMALACIA: Also known as "adult rickets." A condition in which bones become soft as a result of a Vitamin D deficiency
  • OSTEOPOROSIS: This is a bone disease that leads to an increased risk of fracture

    What does vitamin D do? Well if you don't get enough of it then your bones and teeth will be in trouble!!



    WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO HAVE A VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY?

    Not vegans funnily enough, if they get enough sunlight which is the main source of vitamin D that people can get. Vegan vitamin D is not a problem as people get most of their vitamin D requirements from sunlight. These are the people who are most at risk:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Breastfed babies whose mothers have a vitamin D deficiency
  • People who get very little sunlight on their skin
  • People with conditions that affect the way the body handles vitamin D
  • People with dark skins, elderly people, and those with a family history of vitamin D deficiency

    WHERE DO WE GET OUR VITAMIN D FROM?

    Very few natural foods (unfortified) contain vitamin D. Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" as the body can actually synthesize vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and this is how most people get their vitamin D, and that includes non-vegans. Around ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure to the arms and legs, or the hands, face, and arms per day can be enough to meet the body's requirements for vitamin D. Vegan vitamin D is not a problem as long as you venture outside and get some sunshine.

    For those who live in northern climates, or people who do not expose themselves to the sun - for example, people who wear head to toe clothing, or people who are housebound - vitamin D levels can be low.

    Since many foods do not contain vitamin D, some manufacturers fortify their foods with it. Items such as soya milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals for example.



    A word of warning: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is usually derived from yeast, while Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is usually derived from lanolin (oily substance from sheep wool) or fish. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D2 and D3. If you choose to take a supplement, make sure you get vitamin D2 as this should be vegan friendly. To make sure it is vegan friendly, look for brands which are labelled as being vegan. If you look into vitamin D2 and vitamin D3, you will probably read that D3 is far more effective than D3. However, newer research shows that vitamin D2 is just as effective as vitamin D3.

    HOW MUCH VITAMIN D SHOULD WE BE GETTING?

    The FNB (Food and Nutrition Board) put together an AI (adequate intake) for vitamin D that recommends a daily intake which is enough to maintain bone health and normal calcium metabolism in healthy people. AIs for vitamin D are listed here in both micrograms (mcg) and International Units (IUs). The biological activity of 1 mcg is equal to 40 IU. These requirements are based on the absence of adequate exposure to sunlight, so remember that if you are getting sunshine for around 15 minutes a day, that in itself will provide you with enough vitamin D per day.

    So how much vitamin D should we be getting if we do not get daily amounts of sunshine?

    Age Children Men Women Pregnancy Lactating
    Birth to 13 years 5 mcg

    (200 IU)

    14-18 yrs 5 mcg

    (200 IU)

    5 mcg

    (200 IU)

    5 mcg

    (200 IU)

    5 mcg

    (200 IU)

    19-50 yrs 5 mcg

    (200 IU)

    5 mcg

    (200 IU)

    5 mcg

    (200 IU)

    5 mcg

    (200 IU)

    51-70 yrs 10 mcg

    (400 IU)

    10 mcg

    (400 IU)

    71+ yrs yrs 15 mcg

    (600 IU)

    15 mcg

    (600 IU)

    So the question "what does vitamin D do?" as you can see, is an important one. You need vitamin D to help calcium work effectively in your body. Vegan vitamin D is not an issue if you spend time out in the sunshine. Not many foods contain vitamin D so even if you are a non vegan and if you do not get enough sunshine, it may be a good idea to supplement.




    Take Me Home

    Leave What Does Vitamin D Do And Go To What Does Vitamin B 12 Do

    Leave What Does Vitamin D Do And Go To Iodine In Your Diet





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