Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, helps your body maintain bone health, protect itself from certain diseases and conditions and have a healthy development. The natural way of getting vitamin D in your body is by getting enough exposure to the sun, as your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
Another way of reaching your daily dose of vitamin D is to have a balanced diet. Some foods are richer in vitamin D, like egg yolks, fish, and fish liver oils, but you can also choose fortified foods that contain synthesised vitamin D – a lot of dairy products, juices, cereal, and other grain products contain it.
What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Vitamin D?
A vitamin D deficiency exposes your body to a higher risk of developing certain diseases and conditions, weakens your bones, which leads to other types of problems, and can have symptoms like fatigue or depression.
Insufficient levels of vitamin D increase the risk of developing certain conditions and diseases. The associated health problems caused by insufficient vitamin D include:
- Osteoporosis and bone pain
- Autoimmune diseases
- Type 2 diabetes
- Psychological disorders
- Cardiovascular diseases
As you can see, it’s extremely important to get your daily vitamin D intake, and to take a blood test if you’re suspected of having a deficiency.
What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency?
If you suspect having a vitamin D deficiency, reflect on your lifestyle and how it can impact your health. When it comes to vitamin D, the most important
- You Don’t Get Enough Exposure to Sunlight
With the legitimate risk of skin cancer when exposed to the sun, many people have taken drastic measures in preventing the harmful effects of UV rays. But, when not exposed to the sun enough, your body won’t process the vitamin D you need so much, either.
- You Are in an Older Age Group
As we age, our body’s ability to produce vitamin D in its active form is reduced. Older adults are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency and should increase the amount of vitamin D they take.
- Your Skin Is Naturally Dark
Darker skin has a higher content of melanin and it doesn’t produce as much vitamin D when getting sun exposure. If you are in this group, pay more attention to your vitamin D intake. Studies in the US have shown that older African-Americans are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.
- Your Diet Is Poor in Vitamin D
As mentioned before, your diet should contain various sources of vitamin D, in addition to getting exposed to sunlight. If you are vegan or have a different type of restrictive diet, you should consider including a vitamin D supplement in your daily routine. Check with your doctor to make sure your diet does not cause deficiencies and try to cover all your needs while following the type of diet you choose.
How to Get Enough Vitamin D?
First, it’s highly recommended to check if, indeed, you have a vitamin D deficiency before starting a treatment. A simple blood test can tell if you need to supplement your vitamin D intake or if you should look for other causes.
Try to increase your exposure to sunlight and ask your doctor to prescribe a vitamin D supplement and investigate co-existing conditions that might slow down the absorption of vitamin D.