What is Vitamin D?
What role does it play in the functioning of your body?
Vitamin D is a nutrient which is available in food products and is crucial for the maintenance of your strong bones and overall health of your body. Vitamin D can help the body to absorb calcium (from food and other supplements), which is the main building block for the skeletal system and bones health.
In addition, the presence of vitamin D is important for the function of the body as it helps nerves carry messages from the brain to other body parts and muscles. Vitamin D plays a role in aiding the immune system to combat the invading viruses and bacterias. Due to its importance, almost all the cells in your body contain vitamin D.
Vitamin D and calcium can combine to help older ones, who have a tendency of developing thin, brittle and soft bones ,through a medical condition known as osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children and small babies, to develop stronger bones.
Reference: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services National Institutes of Health – Vitamin D
Which food items provide vitamin D?
Mushrooms are the only vegetable that contains vitamin D, naturally.
In the United States, Vitamin D is supplied mainly through fortified foods. By definition, unfortified foods do not contain Vitamin D or other important nutrients and minerals naturally.
Besides mushrooms, fish oil, fatty fish and beef liver are also high in vitamin D. However, mushrooms are low calories and delicious making them a great choice for increasing vitamin D in your diet.
Health problems resulting from Vitamin D deficiency
Osteomalacia (in adults): Lack of vitamin D can cause bones in the adult body to become weak or brittle. People suffering from osteomalada experience weakness in their muscles, have prevalent body pain or feel that their bones are fragile. Difficulty walking and proclivity to bone fractures are also signs of this disorder. Individuals suffering from osteomalada are often advised to increase their intake of vitamin D.
Rickets (in children): Vitamin D deficiency can prevent children’s bodies from absorbing phosphorus and calcium required for stronger bones, making their bones soft, weak and brittle. Children who do not get enough vitamin D can experience delayed growth, chronic pain in the legs, spine and pelvis, or bowed legs. A diet rich in vitamin D can help prevent Rickets in children.
Adverse effects Due to a lack of Vitamin D
Vitamin D aids in the regulation of the growth of all the cells in your body.
- If your body lacks vitamin D, you might experience a reduction of bone tissues, cramps in muscles and weaker bones. This is because the muscles in your body need vitamin D in order to move freely.
- In adults, calcium and vitamin D form a powerful pact in order to prevent osteoporosis, a disease wherein your bones become brittle and soft due to your body’s inability to absorb newer bone tissues which should have replaced the older bone tissues.
- The immune system of your body utilizes vitamin D in order to fight the viruses and bacteria which are harmful and cause infection and other diseases.
- Your nervous system might suffer due to vitamin D deficiency because it depends on the nutrient in order to convey the messages to and fro the brain to the different parts of the body.
- The risk of your death while suffering from cardiovascular diseases will increase monumentally.
- The chances of you suffering from cancer will also increase.
- Chronic and unexplainable bodily pain.
- Children might experience severe asthma.
- Adults might experience cognitive impairment.
- You might begin to feel depressed when your body is lacking in vitamin D.
- Problems in digesting your food can be a result of vitamin D deficiency.
New labeling requirements for Vitamin D and Potassium
On February 27 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama announced upcoming changes to the FDA’s Nutrition Facts label. The new changes include posting the amount of potassium and vitamin D in foods. Our mushrooms are rich in both potassium and vitamin D, for more information visit Comparison of Kinoko with vegetables for exact percentages.
These changes recognize the importance of potassium and vitamin D, nutrients that some in the U.S. are not getting enough of, placing them at higher risk for chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health and Potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure. – FDA proposes updates to Nutrition Facts label on food packages
Hokto mushrooms are rich in both vitamin D and potassium.
Will staying under the Sun get you your dose of vitamin D?
The Sun helps us build up vitamin D levels in our body. Our vitamin D requirements may be met, by exposure to direct sunlight. Despite this too much sun exposure can have some adverse effects.
Direct sunlight may cause skin damage and sunstroke. Exposing unprotected skin to harmful UV rays may also lead to skin cancer.
Moreover, it may be difficult to be exposed to direct sunlight in winter, especially in northern states. Those that work at night cannot depend on the Sun as a source of vitamin D. Some researchers have studied that short sun exposure time might affect vitamin D insufficiency and be relevant to cancer risk.
Reference: The Micronutrient Information Center – Vitamin D
Mushrooms are a reliable and tasty source of vitamin D as an essential nutrient that can help you maintain good health and overall well being.