Nutrition

Vitamin D Deficiency

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Vitamin D Deficiency

Recent studies have shown that the levels of vitamin D have dropped between the years 1988 and 1994 and again between 2001 and 2004. Research also showed how 75% of the population had inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood.

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to many serious health conditions. It is associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and immune disorders as well as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, depression and more.

Having the right level of vitamin D in the blood is therefore very important but finding out if you are deficient or not can be tricky. The only way to determine his is to have a blood test.

Risk Factors That Can Cause Vitamin D Deficiency

The main source of vitamin D is the sun, and with winter at the doorstep, getting enough of it through sun exposure becomes more difficult. We can get it from foods as well. Our bodies don’t produce vitamin D so we rely on other sources to get enough of it.

Other risk factors might be lifestyle, race, age and more.

If you fit any of the following descriptions you might consider getting more vitamin D:

  • You shun the sun. We are bombarded with scares of premature aging and skin cancer caused by exposure to sun rays and advertisements that tell us to cover up in sunblock creams to avoid the dangers of UVA and UVB rays. It’s no surprise then that many people stay out of the sun but this deprives them from the primary source of vitamin D.
  • You live in northern latitudes. Those who live in the northern states are more likely to be at risk of vitamin D deficiency, because of the angle of the sunlight in the winter months. It is advisable to talk to your GP about taking supplements during this time of e year.
  • You eat a vegan diet. The best sources for vitamin D are animal foods, such as oily fish and fish liver oils. Beef liver, cheese and egg yolks also contain a small amount. If you are a vegan diet these foods are excluded from your diet and may put you at greater risk of deficiency. Fortified foods can be an option, such as cereals or orange juice. These, however, might not be enough supply on a daily basis.
  • You have dark skin. The more melanin you have in your skin the darker it is. Melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D from the sun, it acts as a shield. Pigmentation reduces vitamin D production in the skin.
  • You are over 65. Researchers of the Journal of the America medical Association have found that 40-100% of older adults are Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked with dementia and other cognitive decline. Seniors also seem to produce less vitamin D than younger adults even when they get regular exposure to sun.
  • You are obese. Vitamin D deficiency has been vastly noted in obese patients. It seems that vitamin D is less bioavailable in obese people.
  • You suffer from a digestive condition. People that suffer from celiac disease or other conditions that affect the digestive system may experience low vitamin D absorption from foods which may cause deficiency.
  • You have a chronic kidney disease. Kidney disease will also cause absorption problems f vitamin D from food and its utilisation in your body.  You might need to take vitamin D supplements.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Does your body show any symptoms when lacking in vitamin D?

It is very difficult to establish whether you are vitamin D deficient or not, the only way to find out is to have a blood test. Recent evidence shows that 30 or even 40 ng/mL (nanograms per mililiter) are required for optimal health compared to the 20 ng/mL thought to be sufficient up to new research results.

Most vitamin D deficient people won’t realise they are deficient as there are no noticeable symptoms. However some people might experience:

  • muscle/joint pain and weakness
  • bone pain
  • tiredness or fatigue
  • depression
  •  

How Is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated?

The vitamin D found in food is normally too low to correct any deficiency. Standard treatment normally mean the use of vitamin D. Supplementation with vitamin D3 is recommended at a daily dose of 800 to 2,000 IU (international units), with an upper daily limit of 4,000 IU set by the Institute of Medicine. It is advisable to always take vitamin D supplement with food that contains fat for best absorption.

If you are at risk or experience noticeable symptoms, Cuban cardio suggests you consult your doctor and arrange for a blood test. Your GP will be able to best advice you with which supplement you need and the amount that is right for you.