Who Is Most At Risk For Vitamin D Deficiency
Aside from medical conditions that can lead to vitamin D deficiency, biological and environmental factors that put someone at an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency include:
- Age: Your skin’s ability to make vitamin D decreases with age, so people over the age of 65 years are especially at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Infants are also at risk of not receiving enough vitamin D. This is especially true for infants who are only fed breast milk, as it contains only a small amount of vitamin D.
- Skin color: Its more difficult for dark-colored skin to make vitamin D from sunlight than light-colored skin, so people with darker skin are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.
- Mobility: People who are homebound or rarely go outside arent able to use sun exposure as a source of vitamin D. Thus, theyre at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Q: Whats The Link Between Vitamin D And Heart Health
A: That isnt entirely clear. We know that low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for heart disease, but at this time, we do not know whether treating low vitamin D with supplements can prevent a heart attack. There are a number of large clinical trials studying this now. Part of the problem with finding the answer is accounting for the many factors involved in heart disease. For example, maybe people who develop heart disease are also getting less physical activity outdoors. It may not be low vitamin D levels causing the heart disease.
Will a Daily Vitamin Help Keep Your Heart Healthy?
Is a daily vitamin necessary? Get the answer from Johns Hopkins physician Edgar Miller III.
Should Everyone Get Their Vitamin D Levels Checked Generally No
Karl Insogna, MD, director of Yale Medicines Bone Center
Most people should be fine. Testing is important only for certain populations: for people who are institutionalized for patients with a gastrointestinal disorder or osteoporosis those who have had weight loss surgery those on anti-convulsant medications and children who are immobilized and not outside and active. If youre over 70, I recommend getting your levels checked at least one time.
People whose cultural or religious beliefs require them to be fully clothed, especially if theyre living in northern climates, and whose dietary habits include little or no dairy , may also be vitamin D-deficient and should be tested.
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Getting Vitamin D From Sunlight
To make vitamin D, you need sunlight on your skin. From April until the end of September its possible to get enough vitamin D by spending time outside.
For most people, you only need to be outside for short periods of time, for example around 20-30 minutes. Although the exact time isnt known because its different for different people. If you have dark skin, for example if youre of south Asian, African or African Caribbean origin, you will need longer in the sun.
You need to have some skin exposed, for example, your forearms, hands and lower legs. But you can still make vitamin D even if you sit in the shade.
Sitting inside by a sunny window doesnt count because glass filters out the UVB rays the type of light that is needed to make vitamin D.
In the UK, we dont get enough vitamin D from sunlight between October and March, because the light doesnt contain enough UVB rays. During this time, we need to rely on getting enough vitamin D from food, and possibly supplements.
The guidelines in the UK are that everyone should consider taking a vitamin D supplement in the winter, especially if youre more like to have a deficiency.
The Final Verdict On Vitamin D
No bones about it, the endocrinologists we interviewed agree with our dermatologist.
“Just being outdoors, you get a fair amount of sun exposure and some sun-related generation of vitamin D, says Dr. Insogna. Because skin cancer, particularly melanoma, can be such a devastating disease, it’s best to use sunblock when outdoors in strong sunlight for any prolonged length of time. Because this may limit the amount of vitamin D you get from sun exposure, make sure your diet includes sources of vitamin D from foods or supplements, he says.
Both your skin and your bones will thank you.
How Is Vitamin D Different From Other Nutrients
To get a better understanding of vitamin D and scientists long-held fascination with its functions, it’s first good to know that not all vitamins and minerals operate in the body alike.
We’re discovering that vitamin D behaves much less like a vitamin and much more like a hormone, says Robin Foroutan, RDN, an integrative dietitian at the Morrison Center in New York City and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That means vitamin D acts as a messenger rather than a participant in metabolism, according to the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, potentially affecting everything from weight to how organs function.
Why Is Vitamin D In The News
A recent study on the use of vitamin D supplements in reducing the risk of fractures showed taking vitamin D had no effect on the rate of broken bones in 25,000 healthy people who had enough vitamin D in their bodies naturally and no known bone problems.
This study has been widely quoted as “proving” vitamin D supplements are not needed. However, the study was not designed to address the many individuals with vitamin D deficiency, for whom vitamin D might well be helpful. It is self-evident that giving more vitamin D to people with normal vitamin D levels is unlikely to be beneficial.
This study does not provide any information about individuals who have low levels of vitamin D.
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Why Do I Need Vitamin D And How Do I Get It
You can get vitamin D in three ways: through your skin, from your diet, and from supplements. Your body forms vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight. But too much sun exposure can lead to skin aging and skin cancer, so many people try to get their vitamin D from other sources.
Where Does Vitamin D Come From
Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun, though. Most kids and adults spend lots of time indoors at school and work. When outdoors, it’s important to protect skin to prevent skin cancer and skin damage from too much sun exposure.
Very few foods have vitamin D naturally. The foods with the most are fatty fish , liver, eggs and fish oils. Kids don’t eat these foods a lot. That’s why food companies add vitamin D to milk, yogurt, baby formula, juice, cereal, and other foods.
Adding vitamin D to foods is called “fortifying.” It’s helpful, but it still may not be enough.
To get enough vitamin D, children often need to take a multivitamin with vitamin D or a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is sometimes labeled as vitamin D3.
You can buy vitamin D pills, gummies, chewables, liquids, and sprays in stores without a prescription. Ask your child’s health care provider for advice on choosing the right one.
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What Problems Does Vitamin D Deficiency Cause
Severe vitamin D deficiency can also lead to other diseases. In children, it can cause rickets. Rickets is a rare disease that causes the bones to become soft and bend. African American infants and children are at higher risk of getting rickets. In adults, severe vitamin D deficiency leads to osteomalacia. Osteomalacia causes weak bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness.
Researchers are studying vitamin D for its possible connections to several medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis. They need to do more research before they can understand the effects of vitamin D on these conditions.
Adding Vitamin D To Your Diet
If you want a safe, risk-free way to get more of this nutrient into your body, stock up on foods with lots of vitamin D. Some naturally occurring sources include:
You can also find foods and drinks fortified with this vitamin. Remember, your body can’t absorb calcium without it. As a result, you’ll often find it in milk and yogurt. Check the packaging. It should specifically say something like “fortified with vitamin D.”
You might also find D-fortified cereals, oatmeal and orange juice. In other words, food manufacturers have seemingly decided that a healthy dose of vitamin D is a great way to start the day. Also, these foods are fortified because they are affordable and accessible to most people.
You can also get vitamin D from sunlight. Sunscreen blocks this bodily process, though. To protect yourself from skin cancer while increasing your vitamin D production, you might consider a limited amount of time outdoors without sunscreen each day.
If you got a blood test and found that you’re low in this vitamin, you can try moving to a D-rich diet and getting some sun. If another test reveals that you’re still low, though, it’s likely time to start exploring the many vitamin D supplement benefits.
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Vitamin D Functions Food Sources Deficiencies And Toxicity
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin is one of the essential fat-soluble vitamins. It holds a very high significance in helping the body absorb calcium, which is necessary for promoting the bone health and remodelling of bones. This fat-soluble vitamin exists in two forms which are Vitamin D3 also known as Cholecalciferol, which can be naturally produced in the body and Vitamin D2, commonly known as Ergocalciferol which are consumed through the regular dietary intake.
Sunlight, specially the UVB rays are the natural source of Vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin is usually present in human body in biologically inactive form. The sunrays convert the cholesterol present in the body into cholecalciferol. Cholecalciferol is then synthesized in the liver into the metabolite calcifediol which further undergoes hydroxylation in the kidneys to give the biological active form Calcitriol. Calcitriol circulates in the blood in the form of a hormone and plays an essential role in the absorption of calcium.
What Roles Do Calcium And Vitamin D Play In The Body
Calcium is an essential nutrient needed by all living creatures, including humans. Vitamin D is a prohormone that helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for bone health.
Bones and teeth contain 99% of the bodys calcium.
This article looks at the roles of calcium and vitamin D and their benefits. It also looks at the effects of too much or too little calcium or vitamin D. Finally, it identifies dietary sources of calcium and vitamin D and supplementation options.
Calcium is crucial for bone development and growth in children. It is also responsible for the maintenance of strong bones in adults.
As well as its role in bone health, calcium aids in muscle contraction. When a signal arrives at the muscle, calcium is released, helping the muscle to contract. As calcium leaves the muscle, the muscle relaxes.
Calcium also plays a role in effective blood clotting.
According to the , the recommended daily amount of calcium by age group is:
- 06 months: 200 milligrams
- 712 months: 260 mg
- 13 years: 700 mg
- 48 years: 1,000 mg
- 918 years: 1,300 mg
- 1970 years: 1,000 mg
- over 70 years: 1,200 mg
Research suggests that vitamin D also plays a vital role in bone health, as it regulates calcium in the blood. Without vitamin D, the kidneys would excrete too much calcium.
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The Many Roles Of Vitamin D In Our Body
Do you know your serum vitamin D level? Vitamin D plays a significant role in body functions, from the major organs down to the cellular level.
Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, has always been considered an important vitamin. It is essential for adequate calcium absorption and also helps maintain sufficient blood levels of calcium and phosphate. This is critical for good bone and teeth growth, density and strength. Without adequate vitamin D, bones can become thin, mishapen, and easily broken.
If preventing osteoporosis is not enough incentive for getting adequate vitamin D, consider that this vitamin plays an important role in our immune function, reducing inflammation, maintaining good muscle strength, and for blood sugar control, high blood pressure and heart disease. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with higher rates of depression. Researchers are also looking at vitamin D’s role in type 2 diabetes prevention. Vitamin D is essential for function of the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin. Insulin is the hormone that carries sugar out of the blood into the body tissues. The exact mechanism is not clearly understood, but it is being earnestly explored.
New Light On The Sunshine Vitamin
It used to be simple: just get a “healthy” tan and your body will make all the vitamin D it needs. Desk jobs and sunscreen have changed all that, just as research is underlining the importance of vitamin D and suggesting its possible role in preventing many health problems. That makes vitamin D a dilemma of modern life that has a modern solution: eating fish and drinking some low-fat fortified milk, along with judicious doses of vitamin D supplements.
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How Much Vitamin D Should You Take
If youre not getting enough vitamin D from the sun or food, you can take pills, capsules, drops, and other forms of vitamin D. Many multivitamins contain vitamin D.
How much vitamin D you need depends on factors like age and health issues. Talk to your doctor. Celiac disease and other conditions associated with malabsorption of food make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. People with these conditions and who have had gastrointestinal tract surgeries need more vitamin D.
- For people over age 70, the daily recommendation is 800 IU .
- For people below age 70 its 600 IU .
These recommendations meet the bone health needs for most people.
In most situations, taking more than 4,000 units per day is not recommended.
Advice For Adults And Children Over 4 Years Old
During the autumn and winter, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun is not strong enough for the body to make vitamin D.
But since it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
Between late March/early April to the end of September, most people can make all the vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from a balanced diet.
You may choose not to take a vitamin D supplement during these months.
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Exposure To Natural Sunlight
Sunlight is important for boosting vitamin D, but inappropriate sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer.
For safe exposure to sunlight, a person should spend a short time outdoors each day without sunscreen and with their forearms, hands, or lower legs exposed to the sun.
When to do this and for how long will depend on the time of year, geographical location, and other factors.
People should ask their doctor about safe ways to increase sunlight exposure, especially if they have fair skin or conditions that affect the skin, such as psoriasis.
How can you get more vitamin D from the sun? Get some tips here.
The best ways to prevent a vitamin D deficiency are to eat foods that are rich in this nutrient and to spend some time outside each day.
Some tips for avoiding a deficiency include:
Maintaining a healthy body weight: Cycling or walking can provide both exercise and exposure to sunlight.
Treating medical conditions: People with health conditions that affect the absorption of nutrients may find that treating the underlying condition helps boost their levels of certain nutrients, including vitamin D.
Being proactive about preventive health: People with a family history of osteoporosis or vitamin D deficiency may wish to consider speaking to their doctor about screening.
It May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline And Dementia
Foroutan points out that there are vitamin D receptors in brain tissue, which suggests that the vitamin may play a role in cognitive function and, potentially, the risk of dementia. Research increasingly supports this notion a study published in April 2022 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of dementia and justified its causal effect on the condition. Another research article suggests that vitamin D may help clear up amyloid plaque, the hallmark of Alzheimers disease . The authors note that more research is needed to confirm a cause-and-effect relationship between an adequate level of vitamin D and Alzheimers specifically.
Meanwhile, a large review published in July 2018 in Nutritional Neuroscience found insufficient evidence that vitamin D supplements protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease. Researchers wrote that they also couldnt confirm that vitamin D synthesized from sun exposure helps protect against neurodegenerative diseases.
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