Getting enough vitamin D?
One of the essential vitamins needed by the body is vitamin D. Vitamin D is mainly responsible for helping the gut absorb calcium, which has a fundamental role in the development of muscles and bones.
By Rus Hughes
What is Vitamin D Deficiency?
ClevelandClinic.org says that the idea of vitamin D deficiency indicates that an individual does not have sufficient vitamin D in their blood. The same source says that “Vitamin D is unique because your skin actually produces it by using sunlight.” Adding, “Fair-skinned individuals and those who are younger convert sunshine into vitamin D far better than those who are darker-skinned and over age 50”.
A paper published by the UK’s NHS-run Wirral University Teaching Hospital lists other groups at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
- Infants below the age of five.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women, especially the young ones.
- Women with multiple short-interval pregnancies.
- Individuals that use sunscreen and those that conceal most of their skin when outdoors.
- People on vegan or vegetarian diets.
What Are The Symptoms And Health Risks Of Vitamin D Deficiency?
Even though vitamin D is mainly associated with bone health, people affected by vitamin D deficiency show some common symptoms that may look unrelated to bones. MedicalNewsToday.com lists some of the common symptoms for people living with vitamin D deficiency.
- Regular sickness or infection
- Bone and back pain
- Low mood
- Impaired wound healing
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
The same source says that if vitamin D deficiency goes untreated for a long time, the risk of other complications becomes higher. Such complications include infections, specific types of cancers, cardiovascular conditions, neurological diseases, and autoimmune disorders.
What Are The Causes Of Vitamin D Deficiency?
According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, “People can develop vitamin D deficiency when usual intakes are lower over time than recommended levels, exposure to sunlight is limited, the kidneys cannot convert 25(OH)D to its active form, or absorption of vitamin D from the digestive tract is inadequate”.
It has also been noted that obesity can affect vitamin D levels in the body. The American publisher of information about human well-being and health, WebMD.com, reports that fat cells can extract vitamin D from the blood, changing how the vitamin is released into circulation. This could be the reason “People with a body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D”.
Treating Vitamin D Deficiency
The great news is that once vitamin D deficiency has been diagnosed through a blood test by your doctor, it can be treated. Whether you want to treat vitamin D deficiency or prevent it, your goal should be to maintain high levels of the vitamin in your blood.
Sunlight plays a vital role in determining the levels of vitamin D in the blood. The body produces vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet B (UV-B) radiation emitted by the sun. How well your skin will produce vitamin D depends on the season, time of day, location, and how dark your skin is.
Apart from sunlight, vitamin D can also be obtained from your diet. However, ClevelandClinic.org warns that “Vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in many foods,” which is “why certain foods have added vitamin D”. The same organization notes that it is more challenging for lactose-intolerant people or vegans to get vitamin D from their diet—the reason such people need supplements.
Examples of excellent food sources for vitamin D include fatty fish, beef liver, mushrooms, cheese, egg yolks, fortified milk, and other fortified drinks. Fortified foods or beverages are those that have added vitamins and minerals.
Effects Of Too Much Vitamin D
While vitamin D is highly crucial for good health, the vitamin could accumulate to toxic levels when you take too much of it. Even though it’s rare for people to end up with too much vitamin D from either sunlight or their diet, an overdose of vitamin supplements could result in adverse effects.
The provider of health information, Healthline.com, identifies some side effects of taking too much vitamin D:
- Nausea, vomiting, and poor appetite
- Stomach pain, constipation, or diarrhea
- Bone loss
- Kidney failure
Getting Adequate Levels Of Vitamin D
It’s not always possible to know whether you’re getting the right amount of vitamin D from sunlight or your diet. The good news is that you can prevent vitamin D deficiency by taking supplements. However, it is still important to always be conscious that securing adequate vitamin D levels in your blood is a multi-pronged effort involving getting enough sunlight, eating the right foods, and taking quality supplements.
Make sure to always consult your doctor before adding new supplements to your diet.
Original source here.