Despite its name, Vitamin D is not a regular vitamin. It’s actually a steroid hormone that you obtain chiefly through sun exposure and secondarily via your diet. Vitamin D helps to build strong bones, but this hormone has more than only one benefit and acts as a stimulant to your whole body. Here’s a Vitamin D cheat sheet you need to go through to learn about this ailment.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 50 percent of children from the ages of one to five years and 70 percent of children between the ages of six and 11 are lacking in vitamin D. It is noted by examiners that vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in grown-ups of all ages who wear sun protection at maximum times which have chances of blocking production of Vitamin D. Individuals with dark skin tones are also at equal amount of risk as the elderly.
Scientists have observed that senior citizens are more prone to vitamin D deficiency as they tend to spend a lot of time indoors which in turn produce less of the vitamin in comparison to being outdoors in the sun. An individual over the age of 70 years produces 30 to 35 percent less Vitamin D as compared to a younger person with the same sun exposure.
Here are quick facts one should know about Vitamin D deficiency:
- Signs that show you may have Vitamin D deficiency – Several signs may hint towards the fact that you have Vitamin D deficiency. A common ailment in today’s time, it is prone to be overlooked until it is too late and you are already sick. Mood changes, chronic pain, aging, muscle weakness, psoriasis, continual fatigue, depression and anxiety, hypertension, constant respiratory problems, autoimmune diseases, low immunity, unusually sweaty heads, darker skin, obesity, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) are some symptoms for it.
- How much Vitamin D does one need? – Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” However, exposure to the sunlight is often inadequate these days, making it compulsory for people to get more of it from their diet or supplements. Based on age and gender, 600 to 800 IU (International Units) or 10–20 micrograms, is the adequate daily intake for 97.5 percent of individuals.
- How often do I need to get checked for Vitamin D deficiency?
A low vitamin D level can be diagnosed with a blood test called 25 hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D (OH = hydroxy, D = vitamin D). Although there is no prescribed explanation of vitamin D deficiency, some groups use the following values in adults:
– A normal level of vitamin D is defined as a 25(OH)D concentration greater than 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L)
– Vitamin D insufficiency is defined as a 25(OH)D concentration of 20 to 30 ng/mL (50 to 75 nmol/L)
– Vitamin D deficiency is defined as a 25(OH)D level less than 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L)
Testing for vitamin D insufficiency is not obligatory for everyone, but may be advised for people who are home-bound or in a long-term care facility like a medical institution. However each individual is recommended to consult a physician or medical practitioner before taking any dosage or going in for any medical examination of such kind.
- Effects of low levels of Vitamin D – Individuals with this condition are less likely to survive cancer, higher susceptibility to get dementia, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, likelihood to develop aggressive prostate cancer, risk of developing schizophrenia, heart diseases, more prospects to be depressed, probable to have psoriatic arthritis, increased vulnerability to flu and common cold, increased risk of neuromuscular disorders and are more likely to die prematurely.
Compounding the problem is the generous use of sunscreen which blocks 93% of UVB rays which the body uses to make D. Skin also has a harder time producing vitamin D with age. All this enhances the ill-effect of vitamin D production in the body, leading to dependence on supplements and suitable food intake.
- How can I be sure that I’m getting enough vitamin D? –
Intake reference values for vitamin D are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB). These values, which vary by age and gender.
Ways you can make sure to get more Vitamin D as daily intakes are – improve your access to sunshine; eat food rich in vitamin D such as fish, salmon, cod liver oil, mushroom, fortified cereals, tofu, caviar, dairy products, eggs, dairy alternatives like soy; opt for vitamin D2 supplements if you are vegan; increasing your vitamin D supplements, look for fortified food products.
As mentioned previously, the amount of vitamin D you need per day to combat deficiency depends upon various factors, it is advisable to inspect underlying medical conditions and then go forward with a course to maintain your vitamin D levels.