Winter started. Are you getting enough vitamin D? Most of the body’s need for vitamin D can be met by 15 – 30 minutes of exposure to sunlight and small amounts from the food items. The study shows that around 40% of the people don’t have the optimal levels of Vitamin D in their blood. Should I concern about my Vitamin D level? The answer is –YES. There are many good reasons to be concerned about the vitamin D levels in your body. Its deficiency is linked to increased risk of autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, mood disorders, weak muscles, kidney disease, rickets in kids, colon and breast cancer and even the common cold. The adequate amount of vitamin D is necessary for absorption and utilization of calcium and phosphorus. Besides all these, the recent research shows that every cell in our body has a vitamin D receptor and it regulates more than 200 genes in our body.
There are several forms of Vitamin D. D2 (ergocalciferol) comes from food, D3 ((cholecalciferol) comes from sunlight, the natural form which body makes using the sunlight. D5 ( Sitocalciferol) is a synthetic form. Among them, D3 was considered as the most effective form, but the recent studies show D2 is as effective as D3 in maintaining the adequate amount of vitamin D in the blood.
The causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
You don’t get enough from the food items: This happens mostly when you are a strict vegan, since most of the natural sources are animal-based, like fish, fish oil, liver, eggs etc.
You have limited sun exposure: Most of the people don’t get enough sun due to the environmental factors, during the winter time, if they live in the northern latitude, wear sunscreen, protective clothes, etc
You have dark skin: If you have dark skin, even if you expose to sun, you may not get enough vitamin D since the pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sun exposure. The study shows that older adults with dark skin are at high risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
Some medical problems such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease reduces the intestinal ability to absorb vitamin D
Obesity: The obese people are less able to convert vitamin D into the hormonally active form.
People with Kidney or Liver disorders: The form of vitamin D we are getting from the food or supplements requires conversion by the liver and then by kidneys before it becomes fully active. That’s why the people with liver and kidney disorders are at high risk of developing osteoporosis.
Foods that provide vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, halibut, salmon and sardines
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.
- Sweet potatoes
- Beef Liver.
- Egg yolks.
- Dandelion greens
- Shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms
The large dosage of vitamin D can be toxic to your body. It will lead to building up calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause poor appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Other overdose symptoms include weakness, frequent urination, and kidney problems.
How do you achieve the optimal Vitamin D Levels?
You need to:
- Have your physician check your vitamin D levels
- Take a minimum of 1000IU of Vitamin D3 per day
- Eat dietary sources of vitamin D
- If your levels are below 45 you may have to increase the dosage of the supplement according to the physician’s advice.
- Monitor the levels yearly
Take home message: Vitamin D is vital for your health. You need to check the levels at least once a year.