Vitamin D is required for your body to absorb calcium and stimulate bone formation. Vitamin D deficiency causes soft bones in youngsters (rickets) and brittle, deformed bones in adults (osteomalacia). Vitamin D is also required for several vital biological activities. Your body can make some vitamin D if you are exposed to sunlight or wear certain clothes (eg, no sunscreen, no dark clothing).
Your body absorbs vitamin D when it interacts with the fat in your skin. The amount that you absorb depends on how much fat there is on the surface of your skin. Skin that is very oily will allow more vitamin D to be absorbed than skin that is dry. Dark-skinned individuals require more sun exposure than light-skinned people to make adequate amounts of vitamin D. Individuals with chronic liver disease may need a supplement if they do not get enough from their diet.
People who work at desks all day without leaving their offices may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Those who work behind computer screens may be limited to making only if they expose themselves to sunlight for half days during the summer months.
The best source of vitamin D is sunshine! However, because most people are not getting enough sun, supplements are needed to meet their needs.
These nutrients are required to maintain the health of bones, teeth, and muscles. A deficiency of vitamin D can induce bone malformations in children, such as rickets, and bone discomfort in adults, known as osteomalacia. Other problems include muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, diabetes, tuberculosis, and increased risk of infection or cancer.
The only way to get vitamin D is from its natural source: sunlight. However, for people who are confined to bed or have limited mobility, this may not be possible every day. For these reasons, it is important to get your daily dose of vitamin D from food or supplements.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one third of all Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Those at highest risk for vitamin D deficiency include infants, young children, pregnant women, black individuals, and those who do not spend time outside under the sun.
The severity of symptoms for those with a vitamin D deficiency depends on how low your blood levels of the nutrient are. Individuals who are severely deficient (less than 10 ng/mL) experience muscle weakness, pain, and stiffness when they try to lift heavy objects. They also have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.
Without enough vitamin D, you may develop health concerns such as heart disease and weaker bones. Children who are deficient in vitamin D are more likely to develop rickets, a disorder in which bones grow mushy and fragile. Adults can develop similar problems with their bones without knowing it.
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight! However, because people live in areas where the sun is not visible for most of the year, they need another way to get this vital nutrient. Food is also a source of vitamin D; some foods contain more than others. Salmon, tuna, milk products, and eggs are all good sources. You can also get vitamin D from certain brands of supplements. Check with your doctor before taking any vitamins or medications though, as some drugs can block nutrients out of your body.
The recommended daily amount is 600 IU for adults and 800 IU for children between ages one and eight. Those over age nine should take 2000 IU per day. The National Institutes of Health recommend that everyone over the age of one should get at least 600 IU of vitamin D each day.
Too little vitamin D has been linked to multiple sclerosis, diabetes, tuberculosis, asthma, and cancer. Too much vitamin D can lead to kidney damage. Discuss with your doctor what kind of tests you need before you begin taking any supplements.
Vitamin D deficiency can delay a child's growth. And it can lead to cavities and problems with tooth structure. Adults who do not get enough vitamin D are at risk for osteomalacia (weak bones), osteoporosis (thin bones), and muscle weakness. This can increase the risk of bone fractures and falls. The body makes most of its supply of vitamin D from sunlight exposure over the skin. However, due to air pollution, sunscreen use, and limited sun exposure due to fear of skin cancer, many people do not get adequate amounts of vitamin D from the sun.
There are two types of vitamin D: solar and dietary. The main source of vitamin D for adults is sunlight. It is also made in small quantities by some bacteria that live in the gut. The amount needed varies by age: infants need more than children or adults. In general, adults should try to get at least 20 minutes of sunshine per day. But if you live in an area where there is much cloud cover or you wear sunscreen, you might need a supplement. Some studies show that vitamin D supplements may be able to prevent certain diseases later in life. Talk to your doctor about what dose of vitamin D is right for you.
Vitamin D plays a role in regulating calcium in the body. Therefore, someone who does not get enough vitamin D may have higher levels of calcium in their blood. This can lead to heart disease and other problems as well as retard growth in children.
A lack of vitamin D can cause bone density loss, which can contribute to osteoporosis and fractures (broken bones). Severe vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to the development of other ailments. It can induce rickets in youngsters. Rickets is an uncommon condition in which the bones soften and bend. It is most commonly found in children but can also affect adults.
People who wear sunglasses when out in the sun, have melanoma, or are of Asian descent tend to need more sunlight to make enough vitamin D. Those with darker skin pigmentation may not be able to make as much vitamin D from sunlight as people with lighter skin colors.
Those who live at high altitudes or in cold climates may require more than one exposure to the sun per week to make enough vitamin D. The amount needed depends on how far up you go or what the temperature is like where you live.
Low vitamin D has been linked to multiple diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and autism. It has also been implicated in obesity issues and depression.
Vitamin D is best made by your body when it is exposed to sunlight for a long time. However, if you live in a region that gets little sunlight, such as northern cities, you will need to supplement with a vitamin D3 pill. If you do not get enough sunlight, you will need to take a supplement.