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Vitamin D Deficiency


What is Vitamin D?


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (meaning that it dissolves in fat and oils) and can be stored in the body’s fatty tissues. Vitamin D is present in some foods and is also available in supplement form. Interestingly enough, it is the only vitamin that can be produced when ultraviolet rays from the sun hit the skin and trigger production.

Vitamin D is essential for processes such as maintaining serum calcium balanced, helps support cellular health, necessary for bone and muscle health, supports immunity, and protects the nervous system. Unfortunately, almost 40 percent of the population in the U.S. is deficient and oftentimes is unaware.


Vitamin D Deficiency, Causes, and Symptoms


Having low vitamin D levels opens the door for health complications such as osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer to name a few. A simple blood test can help determine if you are lacking vitamin D.


Causes of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Following a strict vegan diet that restricts animal-based sources such as fish, eggs, milk, beef, and liver.

  • Limited sunlight exposure.

  • Having a darker skin complexion as this prevents the body from absorbing the sun’s rays properly.

  • Compromised kidney or liver health: the kidneys help convert vitamin D to its active form.

  • Having digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease which prevent the body from properly absorbing nutrients from food. This also includes individuals who have had a gastric bypass surgery.

  • Being overweight/obese as an individual’s body fat binds to some of the vitamin D, preventing it from entering the bloodstream.


Taking medication such as cholestyramine (a cholesterol drug), anti-seizure drugs, glucocorticoids, antifungal drugs, and HIV/AIDS medications.


Symptoms you may be vitamin D deficient include:


-depression

-anxiety

-mood swings

-irritability

-weight gain

-fatigue

-muscle cramps/pain

-joint pain

-weakened immune system (easily get cold/flu)

-osteoporosis/weak or brittle bones

-unexplained infertility


Best Food Sources Containing Vitamin D and Recommended Daily Allowance


The best way to boost your levels is to go out and get some sun. A good 30 minutes of exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. allows you to get the most out of the sun’s rays. However, this may vary depending on skin color as individuals with darker complexion do not absorb the sun as easily as someone with a light skin color.


A diet rich in vitamin D such as is vital for maintaining good vitamin D levels is also important.


The best vitamin D food sources include:

  • Cod liver oil

  • Swordfish

  • Salmon

  • Tuna

  • Sardines

  • Mushrooms

  • Egg yolks

  • Beef liver

  • Yogurt and cheese (preferably from grass-fed sources)


It is preferable to obtain vitamin D from foods or sunlight exposure. However, if you must supplement, the recommended starting dosage is 5,000 ui per day.


Make sure to consult with your health care professional about testing for levels first to determine correct dosage. Research shows that optimal levels are between 40-60 ng/ml. Many have reported feeling good with levels between 60-80 ng/ml.


Upon starting supplementing, it will be necessary to repeat labs to determine if a dose adjustment is necessary.



Resources:

https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/fat-soluble-vitamin

https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition/vitamin-d-foods#10

https://medlineplus.gov/vitaminddeficiency.html

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

https://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/vitamin-d-deficiency#1

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18348447/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-d-whats-right-level-2016121910893