Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is not the most popular kid on the vitamin and mineral block. Everyone knows the importance of Vitamin C and Calcium, but Vitamin D often falls below the radar. But in fact, Vitamin D is as important to strong bones as Calcium. It is also considered a possible way to ward off the common cold, similar to Vitamin C. What’s more, Vitamin D is thought to lessen the severity of asthma attacks and help prevent debilitating disorders like multiple sclerosis.
Problems from Vitamin D deficiency
One of the most severe and direct consequences of Vitamin D deficiency is soft bones, called rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. This is because one of the main purposes of Vitamin D is to help the bones absorb calcium. Since milk and many grain products are fortified with Vitamin D, for most people, the chance of getting these serious diseases is low. However, Vitamin D also performs more subtle functions in the body, and even a marginal deficiency will build up over time; studies have shown that long term deficiency may play a factor in the development of ailments such as cancer, osteoporosis, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.
Sources of Vitamin D
Now that you know that Vitamin D is important, where can you find it?
- Food: Fish, egg yolks, some mushrooms and cheeses naturally contain some Vitamin D. Milk, orange juice, and grain products such as breakfast cereals are often fortified with Vitamin D.
- Absorption from the Sun: For this to happen your skin must be directly exposed to the sun (no sunscreen!) to be able to absorb enough Vitamin D to be useful. This is even harder during the winter when the sun is less intense and shines for a much shorter duration.
- Supplements: as stated above, many people will need to take a supplement to receive enough Vitamin D. Supplements are especially important for groups who cannot absorb as much Vitamin D from the sun (such as the elderly and those with darker skin), for those who do not receive enough Vitamin D from food (such as vegans who don’t eat fish or fortified dairy products), or breast-fed infants (who do not consume fortified milk).
Are you deficient?
You can find out if you are Vitamin D deficient through an easy blood test. Some medical professionals now routinely check for Vitamin D levels during your yearly physicals. If it turns out you truly are deficient, discuss with your doctor the steps you can take to make sure you get enough of this essential daily nutrient.
Everyone knows the importance of Vitamin C and Calcium, but Vitamin D often falls below the radar. It is very easy to overlook the fact that you aren’t receiving enough Vitamin D; however, doing so may cause you long term health problems. It’s something easy to fix once you are aware, but does not have obvious symptoms to show that you are deficient until it is too late.