Many people still have some wrong information about the sources of the vitamin D and its role in the body. Most of them only know that this vitamin is important for the bones. Anyhow, today the world knows that there are two vitamin D forms and this makes it easy to prevent any forms of deficiency. In the first place, there is the vitamin D2 that is present in foods and plants. On the other hand there is the vitamin D3 which is synthesized in the presence of the sun that touches the skin. Absorption of vitamin D is done with ease by the body. If you expose the skin to the sun you get all the benefits. The sun does not have to be strong in order for the vitamin to be absorbed. So it is recommended to try it out in the morning or in the late afternoon.
There are many reasons behind the vitamin D deficiency. Some of them can be corrected, while others are independent of the person’s choice.
1. Low consumption – In case you are on a vegan diet, you will be deprived by vitamin D as most of it resides in animal products like liver, milk, cheese, yolk or fish.
2. Limited sunlight exposure – If you live in the northern latitudes, have to stay home or wear robes due to religious convictions, you may not get all the vitamin D that you should. Anyhow it is recommended to take advantage of the sun whenever possible.
3. Dark skin – If you have high levels of melanin, this will cause your skin to be darker. The dark color will prevent the skin to make the needed amount of vitamin D.
4. Kidney failure – As you grow old, your kidney will not be able to convert the vitamin D in an active form.
5. Digestive tract problems – In the case of celiac disease, cystic fibrosis or Crohn’s disease, the intestines have a reduce capacity to extract the vitamin D from the ingested foods.
6. Obesity – If your BMI is higher than 30, you are at risk of low vitamin D levels as the vitamin is extracted by your fat cells and cannot reach your blood.
There are many symptoms that are associated with the deficiency. Once you notice them it is a good thing to consult your doctor. Here are the ones that should concern you:
– chronic inflammation
– weak bones
– muscle and bone pain
– heart disease
– insulin resistance
There are some people who are most likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency. They should be at high alert all the time. These groups are:
– pregnant women
– senior citizens
– dark skinned people
The pregnant women need to have a proper balance of this vitamin because it is used for the fetus nourishment. During breastfeeding, it is important to have this vitamin for producing good milk for her baby. In the case of old people, their skin is not that good at absorbing the sun.
Vitamin D has two functions which are crucial. It helps the body maintain and control the levels of phosphorus and calcium from the blood. If the vitamin is enough in the body, the absorption of these minerals is secured. The vitamin also assists the kidneys in calcium absorption. Another function is that of assisting the cellular growth and increasing the immunity.
Preventing the vitamin D deficiency is totally easy and does not imply any cost. The only thing that you need to do is leave the house and expose the skin to the light of the sun. For more fun, you can perform your exercise routine outside. Another way of prevention is by eating vitamin D rich foods. The herring, mackerel and salmon are good sources. Rickets can be cured with the help of cod liver oil. Eggs and cheese also have vitamin D. There is the opportunity to get fortified dairy products and consume them. Last but not least, you can use supplements. Most calcium pills have also vitamin D in them as they go well together as the vitamin helps with the calcium absorption.
In order to see if you have the right level of vitamin D, you will need to have the 25-hydroxy test taken. The proper level should be 20-50 nanograms/mL of vitamin in the blood. If the level is below 12 ng/mL, you have a deficiency.
The right treatment
The doctor may prescribe a treatment if you are vitamin D deficient. You may need to improve your diet and even take supplements in the more serious cases. The right levels of vitamin D may vary from one person to the next depending on their health condition and age. However, anything that is lower than 20 ng/mL is considered low enough to require a medical treatment. The recommended daily unit is of 600 IU from one to 70 years of age. The people, who are older than 70 years, need 800 IU. The upper limit of vitamin D safety is 4000 IU. Above this there is the danger of an overdose. In case you cannot spend a lot of time outside or you wear sunscreen all the time, you need to discuss this matter to the doctor who may recommend you to take some supplements. You should never take supplements on your own before knowing your real levels of vitamin D.
Your health is really important and this is why you need to treat seriously any matter than may come up. The vitamin D3 deficiency is not irreversible. With a little change in your lifestyle, you may succeed in maintaining a safe level of health. It is crucial to actually be able to keep the vitamin D at the right level without overdosing. This can be done if you get the needed amount from natural sources rather than from supplements.