This article is Medically Approved ✓ by Dr. Edward Salko
Vitamin D is produced in the skin as a response to sunlight exposure.
No wonder it has been dubbed as the “sunshine vitamin”. Some people even refer to it as the “wonder vitamin”.
Nonetheless, there is more to the production of this often-neglected vitamin than just a mere bodily response.
Benefits of vitamin D range from strengthening immune defense to suppressing the expression of genes linked to cancer development.
On the other hand, vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone disease such as rickets.
If you have sporadic exposure outside or if sunlight is limited in your area, perhaps it’s about time to check your vitamin D levels.
Read on to learn more details about it.
Why Do You Need Sufficient Vitamin D in Your Body?
With different dietary supplements available in the market, it is not unusual to overlook vitamin D on the shelves.
While most people often go directly for vitamin C and folates, you shouldn’t neglect vitamin D supplements as this micronutrient’s essential functions in the body are undeniable.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble micronutrient which means it can be acquired and processed from fatty foods.
Contrary to popular belief, vitamin D is technically not a vitamin. It is a precursor of a hormone and is sometimes referred to as calciferol.
The importance of vitamin D can be capsulated for the following reasons.
1. It promotes healthy teeth and bones.
Vitamin D plays an essential role in regulating calcium and phosphorus in the blood.
Sufficient vitamin D allows the absorption of these two vital minerals from food in the intestine.
It also maintains the reabsorption of calcium and minerals in the kidney before they are mistakenly excreted.
It promotes mineralization that keeps teeth and bones strong and protected from degradation.
2. It boosts weight loss.
This may come as a surprise, but having enough vitamin D in your system can promote weight loss.
There have been several pieces of evidence suggesting the correlation between vitamin D deficiency, higher body mass index, and fat percentage.
A randomized controlled trial showed that participating women who took vitamin D for 12 weeks supplements lost more weight than those who didn’t take the supplement.
Another study provided insights on how vitamin D can potentially decrease the formation of new fat cells.
The results supported previous claims that vitamin D can decrease body fat.
3. It regulates insulin levels.
Over the years, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The interest in this condition has increased since studies have shown the relevance of sufficient vitamin D in insulin production.
One study showed that supplementing vitamin D and calcium can optimize glucose metabolism.
On the contrary, insufficient vitamin D and calcium inhibit glycemic control.
4. It improves your immune system.
Vitamin D is essential in strengthening your first line of protection against diseases and infection.
It has properties that trigger immune system defenses, such as activating and improving the function of immune cells.
In most cases, respiratory infections such as cold and flu are reduced with sufficient vitamin D.
5. It promotes healthy pregnancy.
Vitamin D requirement is higher among pregnant women.
The lack of vitamin D can influence maternal conditions such as hyperparathyroidism, gestational diabetes mellitus, and pre-eclampsia.
It also increases the risk of low birth weight, delayed ossification, and enlarged cranial size for fetuses.
6. It lowers the risk of depression.
Studies have uncovered the connection between low vitamin D level and depression.
It is understood that vitamin D influences healthy brain function that prevents the development of mental illnesses.
What Happens When Your Vitamin D Is Low?
Vitamin D deficiency is generally considered a global issue.
With about 1 billion individuals suffering from this condition, only a few gets to recognize vitamin D deficiency before it’s too late.
Its prevalence is higher among elderly and obese patients.
If you weigh the significance of vitamin D in metabolism, it will come as no surprise that the lack of this micronutrient can result in severe medical conditions.
Vitamin D deficiencies lead to the following:
1. Oral Health Disorders
According to research, vitamin D deficiency leads to health disorders such as gingival inflammation, cavities, dental decay, gum disease, and other enamel defects.
The lack of vitamin D can lead to teeth that could easily chip and crack.
2. Poor Bone Health
A critical effect of vitamin D deficiency is the loss of bone density.
As you know by now, it plays a vital role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
Both are essential in bone mineralization.
When vitamin D is not enough, processing calcium will become hard work for the parathyroid gland, forcing it to derive calcium from the bones. This leads to bone disorders like osteoporosis and fractures.
Severe vitamin D deficiency leads to a condition known as osteomalacia. It causes bone pain as well as bone and muscle weakness among adults.
Treating this condition begins with increased supplementation of vitamin D.
Rickets is a condition that weakens and softens the bones of children. The most common cause of this condition is vitamin D deficiency.
The complications of rickets include skeletal deformities, abnormally curved spine, seizures, growth issues, and dental defects.
Vitamin D deficiency influences the development of hypocalcemia, a condition characterized by low calcium in the blood.
It’s not exactly a life-threatening condition, especially if the cause is correctly identified.
However, it could contribute to developing other health issues such as osteoporosis, kidney failure, and arrhythmia.
6. Increased Vulnerability Against Diseases
Several studies support the role of vitamin D in strengthening the immune system.
Hence, insufficient vitamin D can be linked to immune disorders and other forms of infections like tuberculosis, pulmonary diseases, asthma, influenza, etc.
It detailed that taking vitamin D supplementation on a daily or weekly basis can significantly reduce the chances of infection by half.
Furthermore, developing research shows the connection of sufficient vitamin D in the bloodstream and the minimal adverse effects of Covid-19 on infected individuals.
While there is a correlation, it does not directly suggest causation. Thereby, more clinical trials and studies are expected to confirm this finding.
Symptoms of Low Vitamin D
Many people are not aware that they have vitamin D deficiency because the signs are subtle or completely absent. Nonetheless, the following symptoms can be observed:
· Back pain
· Hair loss
· Bone loss and pain
· Muscle weakness
Food Sources of Vitamin D
The stimulation of vitamin D depends on your sunshine exposure.
When your skin receives sunlight, vitamin D is synthesized from cholesterol. However, vitamin D is absorbed from the right foods.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily intake of dietary vitamin D is between 400 to 800 IU or 10 to 20 micrograms. This depends on your age, with 15 micrograms as the average suggested consumption.
While vitamin D supplements help out with the deficiency, it is still advisable to include vitamin-D rich foods in your diet.
1. Fatty Fish
A great source of vitamin D is fatty fish with about 200 to 500 IU of vitamin D.
Salmon notably has a higher vitamin D concentration with 526 IU making it an ideal meal for vitamin D deficiency. Other fatty fish include tuna, herring, and sardines.
2. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil comes from the liver of Atlantic cod. It’s not only high in vitamin D but vitamin A as well.
You can get about 448 IU of vitamin D from a single teaspoon of cod liver oil.
3. Egg Yolks
With 218 IU of vitamin D, you can never go wrong with egg yolks, especially if you’re not exactly a fan of fish.
Chickens bred in farms with consistent sunlight exposure or given feeds enriched with vitamin d have even higher vitamin D concentrations.
Earthy, flavorful, and nutrient-rich – that’s how mushrooms are perceived. They’re not simply culinary essentials, but they respond well to vitamin D deficiency.
Shiitake mushrooms, for example, have 100 IU per 2.5 oz.
If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, including mushrooms in your diet can supplement the lack of fatty meat that provides the vitamin D.
5. Fortified Foods
Since natural foods high in vitamin D can come limited in the market, manufacturers fortify certain products with this micronutrient.
These include soy milk, orange juice, regular cow milk, cereals, and oatmeal.
How Do You Test for Vitamin D Deficiency?
If you experience low vitamin D symptoms or have limited sources of this micronutrient, it’s time to get tested for the condition.
Contact your physician and take a blood test.
Vitamin D deficiency can be diagnosed through a blood test.
The most accurate method to measure vitamin D levels is through the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. You can order this blood test via Personalabs if you want efficient and convenient testing. Simply create an account and process your order.
If your symptoms appear to be severe, it is best to see your doctor immediately.
In a Nutshell
Sufficient vitamin D in your system is more important than you think. It performs several of the most critical functions in the body.
Likewise, low vitamin D can lead to health complications that could be life-threatening if not addressed on time.
Thereby, it is imperative to enrich your diet with foods high in vitamin D or add supplementation if necessary.
In the same way, it is crucial to check your levels of vitamin D through the proper blood test.
Think about your vitamin D today.
Replan your diet and outside activities.
Most importantly, get tested for vitamin D deficiency and seek the proper treatment.