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Did you know that one BILLION people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D?
You could almost say that we have a pandemic of Vitamin D deficiency!
As we start heading into the warmer months discover if you are at risk of being Vitamin D deficient with these 13 Common Signs of Vitamin D deficiency. Also discover what Vitamin D is & the affect it can have on our health & wellbeing.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is one of the most complex and fascinating vitamins that our body needs. The ways that our body gets Vitamin D and subsequently metabolizes this substance are truly unique.
Aptly called the Sunshine Vitamin, sunlight initially triggers our body to produce Vitamin D in the skin. Thereafter, Vitamin D undergoes complicated metabolic processes in the kidneys and liver to turn into its active form (Vitamin D3, also called cholecalciferol).
Once in its activated state, cholecalciferol doesn’t merely behave as a vitamin, in fact, it doubles as a steroid hormone, performing many functions throughout your body.
What Foods Contain Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is found predominantly in animal-based products, including:
- Oily fish, such as mackerel, tuna and salmon (a 6 oz serving of salmon provides more than 600 IU of Vitamin D),
- Egg yolk,
- Beef liver,
- Fish oil supplementation.
- However, smaller amounts of Vitamin D can also be found in fortified grain products and UV-radiated mushrooms.
Why Is Vitamin D Important?
Vitamin D is probably most famous for its role in building strong bones. This important vitamin helps to regulate calcium and phosphorus in the blood; two essential minerals needed for maintaining a healthy bone mass.
In a severe scenario, lack of Vitamin D can cause a disease called rickets. This is a devastating disorder whereby the bone tissue fails to fully mineralize, leading to soft, bendy bones and abnormalities in the skeletal structure.
Most people in the Western world won’t develop a deficiency that is extreme enough to cause rickets, however, suboptimal Vitamin D levels can still affect our bone formation to a lesser degree.
Aside from the vital bone-building power of Vitamin D, recent research shows us that it also assists with a vast range of other functions within the human body, spanning cell growth, immunity, neuromuscular activities and reduced inflammation.
In a broad sense, chronic Vitamin D deficiency can increase your risk of numerous diseases, including:
- Heart disease,
- Some cancers (particularly bowel),
- Asthma (in children),
- Cognitive impairment (in elderly people),
- Mental health issues (including depression and schizophrenia).
On the positive side, getting plenty of Vitamin D can help prevent:
- Glucose intolerance,
- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes,
- High blood pressure,
- (Possibly) Multiple Sclerosis,
- Hip fracture and broken bones
- Osteopenia and osteoporosis
As you can see, Vitamin D calls the shots for your health in many respects.
Testing for Vitamin D Deficiency
According to WebMD, the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is considered adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need Daily?
Age 1-70: 600 IU (international units)
Age 71 and older: 800 IU
Your doctor may recommend higher levels of vitamin D, especially if you aren’t getting enough of them or are at risk for osteoporosis.
What To Do If You’re Vitamin D Deficient
If you’re deficient in Vitamin D, include more Vitamin D food sources in your diet from the food list above, and seek out some sunshine! A good quality supplement may also be required.
How To Stay Safe In The Sun (And Still Get Your Vitamin D Fix!)
According to Dr. Mercola, “occasional sunlight exposure to your face and hands is not sufficient for vitamin D nutrition for most people. To optimize your levels, you need to expose large portions of your skin to the sun, and you may need to do it for more than a few minutes. Contrary to popular belief, the best time to be in the sun for vitamin D production is actually as near to solar noon as possible (you need to figure in Daylight Saving Time, which typically pushes solar noon to 1 p.m. for most).
This is because while UVA rays are quite constant during ALL hours of daylight, throughout the entire year, UVB are low in morning and evening and high at midday. So to use the sun to maximize your vitamin D production and minimize your risk of skin damage, the middle of the day (roughly between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.) is the best and safest time. During this UVB-intense period you will likely need the shortest sun exposure time to produce the most vitamin D.
As far as the optimal length of exposure, you only need enough to have your skin turn the lightest shade of pink. This may only be a few minutes for those who have very pale skin.
Once you have reached this point your body will not make any additional vitamin D and any further exposure will only result in damage to your skin. Most people with fair skin will max out their vitamin D production in just 10-20 minutes, or, again, when their skin starts turning the lightest shade of pink.”
We love spending time in the sun, but living on the Sunshine Coast in Australia with sunshine most of the year means we still need to be sunsafe! So how can you get your Vitamin D fix, enjoy being out in the sunshine, and minimize the risk of skin cancer? If you’re going to spend a long time in the sun, you’re going to need some toxin-free sunscreen!
We love these options for natural protection: