Vitamin D & Vitamins In-General
A healthy diet is a balanced one that includes all the nutrients our bodies need such as protein, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water. Vitamins are organic molecules that our bodies need in very small quantities for proper metabolic functioning and normal growth. Our bodies can’t synthesize vitamins, with the notable exception of vitamin D, so we must get them from our diet. There are 13 known vitamins, which include vitamin A, B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folic acid), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K.
Each vitamin is vital for our bodies to function properly. Vitamin A is very important for eye health and eyesight. Vitamin B-6 helps maintain brain function. Vitamin B-12 is important for metabolism. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps the body form red blood cells and use vitamin K. Vitamin K is very important for blood coagulation. Biotin is essential for the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and in the production of hormones and cholesterol. Niacin helps maintain healthy skin and nerves. Folic acid works with vitamin B12 to help form red blood cells. It is needed for the production of DNA, which controls tissue growth and cell function. Pantothenic acid plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol. Riboflavin is important for body growth and the production of red blood cells. Thiamine helps the body cells convert carbohydrates into energy. A deficiency in any of these vitamins can lead to multiple diseases depending on which vitamin is deficient.
Vitamin D: The “Sunshine Vitamin”
Vitamin D, also known as the "sunshine vitamin" since it is made by the body after exposure to the sun, is a very important vitamin for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure to the face, hands, arms and legs 3 times a week is enough to produce the body's requirement of vitamin D for most people at most latitudes, though this may vary by age, skin type, season, time of day, etc. It is worth noting that Just 6 days of casual sunlight exposure without sunscreen can make up for 49 days of no sunlight exposure. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is stored in body fat when we are exposed to sunlight, and then it can be released when there is no exposure.
Vitamin D deficiency is more common than what most people think. People who do not get enough sun exposure, especially in Canada and the northern half of the United States, are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency. According to a 2013 report by Statistics Canada, one-third of Canadians aged 3 to 79 years have insufficient vitamin D levels. One in 10 are considered vitamin D deficient. The opposite may also be true. People who live in very hot and sunny areas, such as the Middle East, may also have vitamin D deficiency because they try to avoid the hot sun as much as possible. People who cover most of their bodies with cloths or wear sunscreen to protect themselves from skin cancer can also be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Other groups at risk are older adults and people with darker skin.
Vitamin D is required for the proper absorption of calcium, which is essential for normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. It also helps maintain proper blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D deficiency can cause poor absorption of calcium, which can cause bone and teeth diseases. Rickets, a disease in which bone tissue doesn’t mineralize properly, can be caused by vitamin D deficiency, especially in children. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include bone pain and muscle weakness. Even without these symptoms, vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem, which can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children as well as cancer.
People who don’t get enough sun exposure should consume foods that contain vitamin D such as fish, meat, cheese, eggs and food fortified with vitamin D such as diary products, orange juice and cereals. It is not likely for most people, however, to meet their daily requirement of vitamin D from eating food alone, and it is recommended to take vitamin D supplements in this situation. Health Canada's daily recommended intakes (RDAs) for vitamin D, updated in 2011, are 400 international units (IU) for infants, 600 IU for children aged one to adults aged 70, and 800 IU for adults over 70. Health Canada's safe upper limit is 4,000 IU per day. Osteoporosis Canada advises healthy adults aged 19-50 to consume 400-1,000 IU daily, and those over 50, or younger adults at high risk, to get 800-2,000 IU daily. The organization advises year-round vitamin D supplementation for all Canadian adults.
Are You Using Halal Vitamin D Supplements?
Vitamin D supplements are available in two main dosage forms, liquid drops and solid dosage forms. Liquid drops are mostly formulated for children, but formulations containing higher concentrations of vitamin D are also available for adults. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it doesn’t dissolve in water. So pharmaceutical manufacturers use ethanol alcohol to dissolve vitamin D to make liquid preparations. Some brands may contain up to 95% ethanol. Since ethanol is a prohibited “haram” ingredient, Muslims should avoid liquid preparations that contain alcohol in them.
Vitamin D also comes in solid dosage forms. The most common form is capsules, but tablets are sometimes available as well. Capsules are usually made from gelatin, which is often derived from a porcine “pig” source, unless otherwise indicated. So unless it states “halal”, “kosher”, “vegetarian”, “vegan”, or “fish”, gelatin is most likely derived partially or entirely from pigs, and should be avoided. Tablets don’t usually contain gelatin in them and are usually safe to consume.
The best way to make sure that your vitamin D supplement is halal is by using halal-certified products. These are brands that are certified halal by a reputable halal-certifying authority to ensure that every single ingredient is halal and that the manufacturing process meets very stringent conditions. Certificates are typically renewed on annual basis to ensure that manufacturers continue to adhere to the stringent requirements set forth by the halal certifying authority. An example of such organizations is the Halal Advisory Group (HAG) in Toronto, Canada. Please visit their website at www.halaladvisory.ca to learn more.
Empowering You to Embrace Halal Living as a Complete Way of Life
At Halal Living SPC, our mission is to empower you to embrace halal living as a complete way of life, while striking a balance between nourishing your body and purifying your soul. As winter looms over us, using a halal-certified vitamin D supplement (25% OFF for only $12.75 CAD - limited time!) s a great way to help you maintain a halal and wholesome life, while pleasing your Creator and adhering to the beautiful teachings of our faith.