Vitamin D is a micronutrient that is important for a robust immune system and healthy teeth, muscles, and bones. Adults and children over the age of 12 months should get at least 600 IU of vitamin D every day from sources like sun exposure, diet, and supplements – although experts suggest getting more than that.
A lack of vitamin D is something that many people suffer from in the United States, and it is actually a problem that extends to other countries as well. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that approximately 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. What’s more serious, low vitamin D can contribute to various adverse health effects, including:
- Frequent infections
- Low bone density
- Joint problems
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
- Impaired wound healing
- And many others
If you think you might have any of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, it’s a good idea to take a deficiency test at home or visit a physician for bloodwork. This will give you a better idea of your existing levels.
New research has found that vitamin D can play a role in weight management. The article discusses the link between vitamin D and weight, as well as how vitamin supplements may help with weight management.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an important vitamin that helps regulate the absorption of phosphate and calcium, two minerals that are necessary for maintaining healthy muscles, strong bones, and teeth. Lecithin is a naturally occurring nutrient in a few foods such as egg yolks, liver, red meat, and oily fish. This micronutrient can be obtained by consuming vitamin D-fortified food products, including juices, buttery spreads, breakfast cereals, milk, and non-dairy milk.
Vitamin D is termed the sunshine vitamin since it can be gained from sunlight exposure. Your skin produces vitamin D from cholesterol when exposed to sunlight. It is recommended that people get some exposure to sunlight every day or at least a few days a week so that they can produce vitamin D naturally in as little as 5 minutes in the sun.
Is Vitamin D deficiency common?
Getting enough vitamin D can be difficult for people because they would need to get it through diet or exposure to the sun. The estimated percentage of American adults who are deficient in vitamin D is 41.6%. According to a study done in 2011 and published in the journal Natural Research, up to 69% of Hispanics and 82% of African Americans worry about their weight.
If you want to make sure you are getting the recommended daily intake of nutrients, taking supplements might be the best option. If you want to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins, taking dietary supplements is a good way to do it, especially in winter or if you spend most of your time indoors.
Some groups are also more prone to low vitamin D levels than others; if you:
- Are obese
- Are overweight
- Are elderly
- Stay mostly indoors 24/7
- Or use sunscreen when you venture out in the sunshine
If you’re not getting enough sun exposure, you may be more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D supplements should also be considered by people who don’t get much sun exposure throughout the year or those who don’t consume dairy/fish products. Studies have also shown that individuals with dark skin are usually unable to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin D through sunshine.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency
But getting the proper recommended daily intake of vitamin D is essential, as deficiency can pose many negative health risks, such as:
- Vitamin D-deficient people often get sick — One of the biggest benefits of vitamin D is that it contributes to boosting your immune system, helping you keep disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens at bay. That’s because this powerful micronutrient interacts directly with B-cells, T-cells, and other cells that fight off infection. If you can’t seem to shake off common illnesses, particularly flu and colds, from season to season, vitamin D deficiency could be to blame. Several extensive observational studies have found a potential connection between low vitamin D and respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and colds.
- Fatigue — Excessive tiredness and fatigue certainly have many potential causes, but low vitamin D is often overlooked as a possible culprit. One 2015 study showed that vitamin D deficiency could be an unusual link to chronic fatigue.
- Lower back pain and bone pain — It’s been known for a long time that vitamin D plays a key role in bone strength and overall health. It’s not surprising that lower back pain, often accompanied by bone pain, may be associated with low levels of this vitamin, as noted by this 2015 observational study conducted in India.
- Mood problems, depression, and anxiety — Some studies, like this 2013 meta-analysis and systematic review study, have noted a correlation between low vitamin D and depression, especially in older adults.
- Other issues – Long-term vitamin D deficiency can also result in low-bone mass density, non-stress-related hair loss, unexplained muscle pain, and impaired wound healing.
How does vitamin D help your body?
Vitamin D is one of the most beneficial micronutrients, and it does what it is supposed to do. It has been found to offer a variety of health benefits, including: