Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that goes by the name “sunshine vitamin.” It takes part in numerous processes and functions. The body produces the sunshine vitamin with the help of sunlight. It optimizes immune response, reduces inflammation, promotes cell growth and improves the neuromuscular functions.
Vitamin d supports the metabolism of calcium. It takes part in the absorption of calcium from food and supplements. Use it to strengthen your bones. Vitamin D is important for the treatment of type 1 and 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol) are two forms of this vitamin.
D2 is obtained from fortified foods, plants and supplements. D3 is found in dietary sources and is produced by the body when you spend time in the sun.
Causes of vitamin D deficiency
1. Lack of sun exposure
Your body synthesizes its vitamin D from cholesterol. However, you need to spend time in the sun to make this process happen. When you don’t spend enough time in the sun your body will lack this vitamin.
Pollution has terrible effect on your health. Carbon absorbs or scatters sunrays and blocks their way to your skin.
3. Excessive sun protection
When you put too much sunscreen, your body won’t synthesize any vitamin D at all.
It’s responsible for the production of vitamin D, and needs UVB rays to perform their functions. Dark-skinned individuals have more melanin and need more UVB exposure than light-skinned people to get the same amount of vitamin D.
5. Ambient skin temperature
If your skin is warm, it will absorb the UVB rays of sun more than cold skin.
6. Kidney issues
Your kidneys and liver are linked to the metabolism of vitamin D and the absorption in the body. Impaired kidney and liver function affect your body’s ability to turn vitamin D into its bioactive form.
7. Digestive issues
Gastric, pancreatic and bile secretions affect the absorption of vitamin D. Some disorders that affect your gastrointestinal tract such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, chronic pancreatitis and cystic fibrosis can affect the absorption of vitamin D.
8. Low vitamin D intake
Your body can make its own vitamin D, but you should consider taking some of it through your diet.
The lack of vitamin D may lead to serious issues which is why you should eat more foods rich in vitamin D, including eggs, beef liver, oysters, shrimp, and fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and cod, and fortified foods, too.
Aging affects he production of vitamin D. Kidneys are also less efficient in turning vitamin D into calcitriol.
Obese individuals have a low bioavailability of vitamin D. Fat cells extract this vitamin from the blood, and affect its release in the system.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency
1. Poor immunity
Vitamin D is important for the function of the T cells that build strong immunity. A 2011 study released in the Journal of Investigative Medicine confirms that vitamin D modulates the innate and adaptive immune response. The lack of this vitamin is linked to high autoimmunity and infections.
2. Bone pain
Given that vitamin D is essential for your bones, cartilage and muscles, its deficiency may result in muscle pain, cramps and pain.
The lack of vitamin D is linked to multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
3. Tiredness and fatigue
You need vitamin D for energy. If you are tired all the time, you may lack this vitamin. Low vitamin D levels result in fat accumulation, lowering your metabolic rate and reducing your energy.
A 2014 study released in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences confirms that by fixing your vitamin D levels you can treat you fatigue.
4. Mood swings
Your sudden mood swings may be caused by the lack of vitamin D. This vitamin affects the production of serotonin. It’s a brain hormone that’s related to your mood elevation and happiness. High serotonin levels neutralize stress and prevent depression.
The lack of vitamin D may lead to seasonal affective disorder, premenstrual syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Vitamin D deficiency may give you psoriasis. Experts at the National Psoriasis Foundation say that sun exposure slows down the growth and shedding of skin cells.
6. Digestive issues
Any gastrointestinal condition may affect your body’s ability to absorb vitamin D. The receptors of this vitamin are found on the cells in the digestive tract and immune system.
A 2011 study released in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology confirmed the link between low vitamin D and gastrointestinal diseases.
7. Excessive sweating
Low vitamin D levels cause sweating. Newborn babies also sweat due to the neuromuscular irritability as an early symptom of the lack of this vitamin.
Vitamin D affects the enzymatic process that constricts arteries and lead to high blood pressure. This vitamin improves the circulation of blood in the body.
Obese individuals have higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency.
Treat vitamin D deficiency
If you lack vitamin D, follow the following methods to get enough of this vitamin:
- Supplements (consult a doctor)
- Dietary sources
- Spend enough time in the sun
The right intake
The intake of vitamin D depends on numerous factors:
- Skin tone
- Weather-related sun exposure
- Activity level
- Metabolic health
Experts at The Institute of Medicine explain that the normal blood level of vitamin D is 20 nanograms per milliliter.
- Infants below one: 400 IU
- Children between 1 and 13 years: 600 IU
- Adolescents between 14 and 18 years: 600 IU
- Adults between 19 and 70 years: 600 IU
- Adults aged 71 years or older: 800 IU
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU
How is vitamin D measured?
The 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test is the standard test for measuring vitamin D levels. If your vitamin D level is below 12ng/ml, you are dealing with a deficiency.