We haven’t talked about vitamin D in a while. It needs to get more attention. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks of bone. It also plays an important role in your nervous, muscle, and immune systems. And with all its benefits, like fighting diseases, regulating mood and reducing depression, and supporting weight loss, it’s a big deal.
Really, we’re a lot like houseplants with emotions.
And just like a houseplant, not getting enough sunlight & vitamin D means we start to break down. The technical name is Vitamin D deficiency.
You may not shrivel up and wilt, but being deficient has been shown to be directly linked to dozens of different health challenges!
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a loss of bone density, which can contribute to osteoporosis and bone fractures. In children, severe vitamin D deficiency can also cause rickets. Rickets is a rare bone disease in children that causes weak bones, bowed legs, and other bone deformities. In adults, severe vitamin D deficiency leads to osteomalacia, which causes weak bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness.
It’s surprisingly easy to become deficient in vitamin D for different reasons:
- Not eating enough vitamin D rich foods.
- Not absorbing enough the vitamin D in your food.
- Not enough exposure to sunlight
- Your liver or kidneys can’t convert vitamin D to its active form.
- Certain medications may interfere with your body’s ability to convert or absorb vitamin D.
There are several groups at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency:
- Breastfed infants since human milk is a poor source of vitamin D.
- Older adults don’t make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight as efficiently as when younger skin.
- People with dark skin cannot produce vitamin D from the sun.
- People with conditions that make it difficult to absorb nutrients from food, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease.
- Obese people because their body fat binds to some vitamin D and prevents it from getting into the blood.
- People with chronic kidney or liver disease.
There are several ways to get Vitamin D naturally. First is through your skin, by getting enough exposure to sunlight (but be careful that you don’t get too much sun as that can be dangerous for a multitude of reasons). The second is through natural food like:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
You can also get vitamin D from fortified foods. Some that often have added vitamin D include:
- Breakfast cereals
- Orange juice
- Other dairy products, such as yogurt
- Soy drinks
And the third way is through supplements… And we can help with that!
If you are tested and find you are actually deficient, the treatment is usually an “all of the above” approach. Get outside. Eat more fish. Use one of our supplements.
Check with your provider (like Joyce!) about how much, how often, and how long you need to take it.
Of course, there is too much of a good thing! Though comparatively rare, very high levels of vitamin D can damage the kidneys, leading to a host of other issues. Most cases of vitamin D toxicity happen when someone overuses vitamin D supplements. Again, work with a professional practitioner that can help you track levels and make corrections as needed.