Risk Factors For Vitamin D Deficiency
There are many reasons why your body may not have sufficient levels of vitamin D. Here are some common risk factors:
Darker skin tone: Your skins ability to synthesize vitamin D is greatly reduced if you have a naturally darker skin tone.9Limited sun exposure: UV rays are a major source of vitamin D, so limited time in the sun means lower levels of vitamin D. Sunscreen use, spending time indoors, and reduced sunlight in the winter months all contribute to lower vitamin D levels.10
Advanced age: As you age, your skins ability to produce vitamin D greatly decreases.11
Obesity: Lower concentrations of vitamin D in the body are associated with obesity, so if youre overweight you may need higher doses of vitamin D.12
A Word On Vitamin D Cofactors
An important point to note is that if you take high dose Vitamin D supplements, they can increase Calcium levels beyond normal.
Excess Calcium gets deposited in the arteries and kidneys which can lead to heart disease and or kidney stones.
A good way to keep Calcium levels in check is by taking Vitamin D Cofactors.
Vitamin K2, Magnesium, Boron, Omega 3, Vitamin A are 5 of the most important Vitamin D Cofactors.
Poor Night Vision And White Growths On The Eyes
A nutrient-poor diet can sometimes cause vision problems.
For instance, low intakes of vitamin A are often linked to a condition known as night blindness, which reduces peoples ability to see in low light or darkness.
Thats because vitamin A is necessary to produce rhodopsin, a pigment found in the retinas of the eyes that helps you see at night.
When left untreated, night blindness can progress to xerophthalmia, a condition that can damage the cornea and ultimately lead to blindness .
Another early symptom of xerophthalmia is Bitots spots, which are slightly elevated, foamy, white growths that occur on the conjunctiva or white part of the eyes.
The growths can be removed to a certain extent but only fully disappear once the vitamin A deficiency is treated .
Fortunately, vitamin A deficiency is rare in developed countries. Those who suspect their vitamin A intake is insufficient can try eating more vitamin-A-rich foods, such as organ meats, dairy, eggs, fish, dark leafy greens, and yellow-orange colored vegetables .
Unless diagnosed with a deficiency, most people should avoid taking vitamin A supplements. Thats because vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which, when consumed in excess, can accumulate in the bodys fat stores and become toxic.
Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity can be serious and include nausea, headaches, skin irritation, joint and bone pain, and, in severe cases, even coma or death .
What Happens If I Don’t Have Enough Vitamin D
Moderate to severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets in infants and children.
Low vitamin D levels can lead to osteoporosis and increase the risk of falls and fractures if you are over 50. Osteoporosis occurs when your bones lose calcium and other minerals, making them fragile and more likely to break. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, so if you dont have enough, you can be at increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
People with very low levels of vitamin D are the most at risk of developing health problems.
A number of diseases have been linked to low vitamin D levels such as increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children and cancer. Research suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including type1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis. However, Choosing Wisely Australia recommends that you do not need routine testing for vitamin D deficiency unless you are considered specifically at risk.
Can Too Much Vitamin D Be Harmful
Getting too much vitamin D can be harmful. Signs of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, and weight loss. Excess vitamin D can also damage the kidneys. Too much vitamin D also raises the level of calcium in your blood. High levels of blood calcium can cause confusion, disorientation, and problems with heart rhythm.
Most cases of vitamin D toxicity happen when someone overuses vitamin D supplements. Excessive sun exposure doesn’t cause vitamin D poisoning because the body limits the amount of this vitamin it produces.
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How Do I Get Vitamin D
Our skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun. It can also be obtained from foods containing vitamin D, and D2/D3 supplements.
- Vitamin D2 supplements
- Fortified foods containing D2
- Exposing our skin to sunlight
- Oily fish and fish oil
- Vitamin D3 supplements made using lanolin from sheeps wool
- Vitamin D3 supplements made using lichen
- Fortified foods containing D3
Since D2 is cheaper to produce, its the most common form in fortified foods.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Vitamin D Deficiency
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How Is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated And Prevented
Treatment and prevention of vitamin D deficiency includes increasing your intake of vitamin D. The goal is to get your blood level of vitamin D above 30 ng/mL. You likely will need supplements to raise your vitamin D level. That is because it is hard to get enough vitamin D soley from your diet, and excess sun exposure can cause skin cancer.
In supplements and fortified foods, vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 and D3. While some research studies suggest that vitamin D2 may be less potent, either form can be effective at recommended doses.
Vitamin D comes in pills, gelatin capsules, or a liquid for children, alone or in a multivitamin. The oral dose is once daily or weekly. Children with rickets or at risk of this disease may get vitamin D injections a few times a year.
The treatment dose of vitamin D depends on your age, how low your blood vitamin D level is, and what is causing the level to be low. Most often your doctor will lower the vitamin D dose after six to eight weeks of treatment. You will then stay on this lower maintenance dose for as long as you need.
Vitamin D treatment can improve bone, body composition , and quality of life in patients with vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D treatment is very safe. Patients with a chronic granuloma-forming disease and some patients with lymphoma who receive vitamin D treatment may get too much calcium in their blood or urine. Careful monitoring of blood vitamin D levels will help check for this possible problem.
Occurrence In The United States
Vitamin D insufficiency is highest among people who are elderly, institutionalized, or hospitalized. In the United States, 60% of nursing home residents and 57% of hospitalized patients were found to be vitamin D deficient.
However, vitamin D insufficiency is not restricted to the elderly and hospitalized population several studies have found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among healthy, young adults. A study determined that nearly two thirds of healthy, young adults in Boston were vitamin D insufficient at the end of winter.
An analysis of data on 2877 US children and adolescents from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2006 indicated that, based on current Institute of Medicine Committee guidelines, about 10.3% of this population had inadequate vitamin D D) levels , and 4.6% had levels placing them at risk of frank deficiency . Adolescents and obese children had the highest risk of 25D deficiency and inadequacy, and these risks were also higher among girls than boys and among nonwhite children.
Vitamin D status may fluctuate throughout the year, with the highest serum 25D level occurring after the summer and the lowest serum 25D concentrations after winter. A study by Shoben at el demonstrated that mean serum 25D concentrations can vary as much as 9.5 ng/mL. Factors such as male sex, higher latitude, and greater physical activity levels were found to be associated with greater differences in serum 25D concentrations in winter and summer.
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Causes Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can occur for a number of reasons:
You don’t consume the recommended levels of the vitamin over time. This is likely if you follow a strict vegan diet, because most of the natural sources are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, fortified milk, and beef liver. Here are the best vitamin d foods for vegetarians.
Your exposure to sunlight is limited. Because the body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, you may be at risk of deficiency if you are homebound, live in northern latitudes, wear long robes or head coverings for religious reasons, or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure. Duirng the winter, vitamin D deficiency can be more prevalent because there is less sunlight available.
You have dark skin. The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Some studies show that older adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Your digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D. Certain medical problems, including Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, can affect your intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the food you eat.
Do Vitamin D Pills Work
One published in August 2018 concluded that increasing the levels of vitamin D in the general population is unlikely to decrease the risk of bone fractures in healthy people. And a meta-analysis of 81 studies found that vitamin D supplementation doesnt prevent fractures or falls, or improve bone mineral density.
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How Long Does Vitamin D Deficiency Take To Correct
You have the symptoms. You’ve started taking magnesium.
Now the question is: how long does it take for magnesium to work?
I’ve been asked about this a lot recently and it’s a very important question.
Below you will find a summary of my own experience recovering from magnesium deficiency, including what I did that helped me recover faster.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be used in place of the advice of a healthcare professional. While my wife and I have been taking magnesium supplements every day for years, I can’t say how they might affect you. Always consult a doctor if you have health concerns: don’t try to self-diagnose!
How Is Vitamin D Deficiency Diagnosed
It may be suspected from your medical history, symptoms, or lifestyle. A simple blood test for vitamin D level can make the diagnosis. Blood tests for calcium and phosphate levels and liver function may also show changes linked to a low level of vitamin D. Sometimes a wrist X-ray is done for a child in order to see how the bones are developing. This can assess how severe the problem is by looking for changes in the wrist bones.
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Foods High In Vitamin D
Other than fortified products , there arent a ton of great natural foods sources for vitamin D.
The best foods for increasing vitamin D intake are lard, some seafood including fatty fish, cod liver oil, and egg yolk. Lard has 13 IUs of Vitamin D per tablespoon, which still takes a while to add up if youre going for 5000.
Per 100 grams , Vitamin D shows up in the following amounts:
Cod Liver Oil: 10,000 IUSockeye Salmon : 859 IUSmoked Ciscoes: 530 IUEgg yolk : 218 IULard : 102 IU
How Is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated
The goals of treatment and prevention are the sameto reach, and then maintain, an adequate level of vitamin D in the body. While you might consider eating more foods that contain vitamin D and getting a little bit of sunlight, you will likely be told to take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 and D3. D2, also called ergocalciferol, comes from plants. D3, also called cholecalciferol, comes from animals. You need a prescription to get D2. D3, however, is available over the counter. It is more easily absorbed than D2 and lasts longer in the body dose-for-dose. Work with your doctor to find out if you need to take a vitamin supplement and how much to take if it is needed.
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What Is The Difference Between Vitamin D2 And D3
Vitamin D2 and D3 are two important forms of vitamin D. D2 comes from plants and D3 comes from mainly animal sources or it is made by our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight. D3 is better absorbed and more potent than D2. Fortified milk or juice is more likely to contain D2 because it is cheaper to produce.
Vitamin D And Uvb Radiation Protection: A Warning
it is important to note that one should never become sunburnt in oneâs efforts to spend time outdoors for the purpose of increasing oneâs levels of vitamin D. Going without adequate sun protection carries significant health risks. For example, it increases the likelihood of developing severe forms of skin cancer such as melanoma.
Becoming sunburnt as a result of spending time in the sun is never recommended. One should ensure that one always takes care to wear appropriate sun protection for oneâs skin type, as well as following the general recommendations, such as wearing high-factor sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat.
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Is It Possible To Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency
A few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and other foods are fortified with it. With only 20% of our vitamin D intake expected from food, exposure to the sun and taking supplements remain the primary sources. Follow your health care provider’s recommendations for supplementing on a regular basis, get some sun exposure, consume foods that contain vitamin D, have regular blood work to monitor your level, and make adjustments to your intake based on your medical needs and seasonal changes.
- 1 tsp cod liver oil has 400 to 1,000 IU/vitamin D
- 3.5 oz salmon, fresh has 600 to 1,000 IU/vitamin D
- 3.5 oz salmon, fresh has 100 to 250 IU/vitamin D
- 3.5 oz salmon, canned has 300 to 600 IU/vitamin D
- 3.5 oz sardines, canned has about 300 IU/vitamin D
- 3.5 oz mackerel, canned has about 250 IU/vitamin D
- 3.5 oz tuna, canned has 236 IU/vitamin D
- 3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms has about 100 IU/vitamin D
- 3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms has about 1,600 IU/vitamin D
- 1 egg yolk has about 20 IU/vitamin D
- 8 oz fortified milk or yogurt has 100 IU/vitamin D
- 8 oz fortified orange juice has about 100 IU/vitamin D
- 3 oz fortified cheese has about 100 IU/vitamin D
Do I Need A Vitamin D Test
You may need a vitamin D test if you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
A vitamin D test is a simple blood test that measures a form of vitamin D in your blood called 25-hydroxyvitamin D . This test is usually only done in people at risk of osteoporosis and needs an assessment and referral by a doctor.
Talk to your doctor if you think you need a vitamin D test.
The best time to test for vitamin D is at the end of winter or in early spring when your vitamin D levels are at their lowest.
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Why Is Vitamin D Important
Vitamin D is formed when our skin is exposed to sunlight. It is important for maintaining healthy and strong bones, teeth, and normal muscle function. It is known to regulate calcium and phosphate in ones body.
In infants, deficiency of Vitamin D can cause rickets , and in adults, the deficiency can cause diseases of bones like Osteomalacia and Osteoporosis.
Further research has shown that Vitamin D also helps prevent hypertension, several kinds of cancers, depression, diabetes, chronic pain, cardiovascular diseases and reduces the chances of certain infections, including swine flu.
Your Vitamin D Resultswhat Do They Mean
So youve seen the Vitamin D levels chart UK above, where do you stand?
If you havent taken a test yet but feel some of the deficiency symptoms, please take a Vitamin D blood test right away.
Ill talk about blood testing shortly but for now, lets take a look at how to interpret your levels.
Vitamin D levels are measured based on the amount of 25 OH D3 in the blood.
This is a fancy science term for the form of active Vitamin D3 thats absorbed by your body.
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How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose A Vitamin D Deficiency
|Considered safe||< 100 ng/mL|
The largest meta-analysis ever conducted on all of the published studies between 1966 and 2013 regarding 25D levels and all-cause mortality found that the lowest mortality risk is seen when the levels are > 40 ng/mL. According to this, the IOM guidelines are too low and there is a plea calling on the public health authorities to change the recommendations for both the ideal blood level and the requirements needed to achieve this level.
Your 25D level will change by season if you vary how much time you spend in the sun each season. Keep this in mind when scheduling your test.