Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for our body. But what does it consist of, what are its functions and where can we easily find it?
The vitamin D, unlike for example of vitamin B1, is a fat – soluble vitamin (one that is soluble in fatty substances) essential for maintaining the health of our bones. We find it in two forms: through solar rays (ergocalciferol) or from animal sources (cholecalciferol). The first of these occurs when ultraviolet light affects a precursor substance called ergoresterol, which, for example, some fungi and yeasts have.
As you can guess to some extent, it is primarily light on the skin one of the main sources of vitamin D. Of course, over the years, and ultimately with age, our body’s ability to synthesize it through sun exposure decreases considerably.
That is why we find vitamin D naturally in few foods, although we can also find it today in those foods enriched with this vitamin, such as cereals.
Because of this, it is difficult to take vitamin D in excess, but this does not mean that it is one of the most dangerous if it is consumed in excess, since it can affect the heart, lungs and kidneys.
Main functions of vitamin D
Among other aspects, vitamin D is involved in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, being responsible for the amount of these minerals in both teeth and bones. Helped by parathyroid hormone, it maintains adequate levels of phosphorus and calcium in the blood circulation.
Did you know that the sun is the main source of vitamin D?
Many nutritionists, doctors and experts advise sunbathing as an excellent and wonderful way to provide vitamin D to our body. The reason is more than evident: moderate exposure to the sun is a fundamental way for our body to obtain the amount of vitamin D required per day.
For this to be the case, it is necessary for the ultraviolet B (UVB) fraction that we find in the sun’s rays to come into contact with the skin. When this happens, our body is able to synthesize vitamin D correctly.
To achieve this, just expose your face and arms to the sun for 30 minutes a day. In this way, we will ensure that our body can synthesize vitamin D adequately.
Of course, we must pay special attention to maintaining adequate skin protection whenever we go to sunbathe, in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer, and above all, avoid possible burns.
In this sense, an excellent form of prevention, to sunbathe safely and thus better synthesize vitamin D, is to always use sunscreen creams, avoid the hottest hours of the day, and reduce sunbathing to 30 minutes.
Foods rich in vitamin D
Although, as we have indicated previously, there are few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, this does not mean that there are no foods that provide it.
Among the most interesting are sardines and anchovies, tuna and fresh bonito, fatty cheeses, margarine, mushrooms, eggs, milk and yogurt, among others.
In fact, today it is possible to find foods and beverages enriched with vitamin D and calcium on the market, since we must not forget that vitamin D is essential for the correct absorption of calcium, which is why it is always advisable to consume them together. For example, we can find vitamin D + calcium in fortified foods such as butter, margarine, milk, and breakfast cereals.
Recommended daily amounts of vitamin D
The Institute of Medicine advises a daily consumption of 15 micrograms of vitamin D in people up to 70 years of age, and 20 micrograms, in people older than this age.
On the other hand, the FESNAD itself (Spanish Federation of Nutrition, Food and Dietetics Societies), advises a daily intake of vitamin D of between 5 to 15 micrograms per day, depending on age.