There are a massive amount of nutrients that people need in order to stay healthy. One of the more important vitamins that we need is vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for cell growth. Vitamin D helps to maintain the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, and also helps with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Adequate amounts of calcium is essential for strong and healthy bones, as well as protecting again osteoporosis, cancer, hypertension, and many autoimmune problems.
There are two forms of Vitamin D that are essential to people. Vitamin D2, otherwise known as ergocalciferol, and vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol. Vitamin D2 comes from plants whereas vitamin D3 comes from the human skin. The foods that you see in the grocery stores that say they are fortified with vitamin D are fortified with both types of the vitamin.
Symptoms Of Low Vitamin D Levels
There are many symptoms that can indicate low levels of vitamin D. These symptoms range from mild to severe.
- Brittle bones or loss of bone strength
- Greater risk of developing cancers including lung, breast, colon, and ovarian cancer
- A lower functioning immune system
- Increased chance of getting asthma, colds, and the flu.
- Certain types of depression (seasonal affective disorder)
- Cavities and periodontal disease
- Muscle fatigue
- Body aches
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Multiple sclerosis
In early childhood, one of the first signs that a young person is not getting enough vitamin D is the development of a condition called rickets. Rickets causes the bones to get weaker and often causes the legs to give out under the pressure of the person’s weight. Rickets can cause a child’s legs to bow outward. Not only can rickets cause bowed legs, the condition can also have the same impact on the arms, causing them to bow at an odd angle.
A condition similar to rickets is osteomalacia. This deficiency disease affects older people, making their bones softer and more prone to breaks. The person’s overall skeletal structure weakens drastically.
Who Is At Risk For Low Vitamin D Levels?
As with any condition, certain people are more prone to have a vitamin D deficiency. These people include:
- People who are obese
- Elderly people
- Infants who are exclusively breast fed
- People who get a limited amount of sun exposure
- People who live farther from the equator
- Individuals with a dark complexion
- People who have inflammatory bowel disease
How Do You Get The Right Amount Of Vitamin D?
It’s recommended that you get anywhere from 200 to 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D every day, depending on your age. Many Americans don’t get enough sunlight because of the potential threat of sun damage and skin cancer. The less sunlight we get, the lower our vitamin D levels get. Luckily there are solutions to get more vitamin D in our diets.
Sunlight: Vitamin D is sometimes known as the sunshine vitamin. There’s a chemical in the skin that turns into an active form of vitamin D when sunlight hits it. There are lots of opinions on how much sunlight is needed to get an adequate amount of vitamin D through sunlight. Typically, the amount ranges from 5 to 30 minutes, two to three times a week The best time for sun exposure is from 10 AM to 3 PM.
Foods: There are several foods you can add to your diet to boost your vitamin D levels. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, or tuna are good options. Fortified milk, eggs, and cod liver are other great addition to your diet.
Supplements: You can get vitamin D in supplemental form. This is probably the easiest way to boost the amount you get. In fact, if you were to get all of your vitamin D from drinking milk, you’d have to ultimately drink about one liter of milk per day. That’s a lot of milk. If you’re sensitive to sunlight, or you sunburn easily, you may not want to risk the amount of time in the sun it would take to get the recommended amount That’s why it’s important to get vitamin D from several other sources. Doctors suggest to get a supplement with both vitamin D and calcium, as the vitamin D helps the body to absorb the calcium easier.
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