Vitamin D is an important vitamin that is required for staying healthy.
It is a hormone that regulates the levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood — which are nutrients essential for keeping our muscles, bones, and teeth healthy.
It is a unique vitamin because it is naturally produced by the body when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D can also be obtained from the foods that we eat, including dairy foods, fatty fish, eggs, and beef liver.
Unfortunately, getting enough vitamin D can be difficult for people who don’t get much sun exposure or have a poor quality diet.
In recent years, researchers have discovered that not getting enough vitamin D can actually cause serious side effects and increase the risk of several diseases.
In this post, I’ll explain why vitamin D is so important and why you might need more vitamin D than you think.
How Does The Body Use Vitamin D?
The main role of Vitamin D is to allow the body to absorb calcium and phosphate.
They are both important minerals that promote bone, teeth and muscle growth.
Vitamin D is also important for keeping your immune system strong enough to fight off the viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens that cause illness.
Vitamin D deficiency can result in fragile or misshapen bones in adults (osteomalacia) or soft bones in children (rickets).
It can also cause poor muscle strength, a compromised immune system, and an increased risk of fall injuries.
In the past few decades, researchers have discovered that vitamin D is much more important than initially suspected.
The body’s vitamin D levels play a role in determining a person’s risk of contracting certain illnesses, including:
Researchers have found several links between vitamin D levels and cancer risk.
A study published in 2008 found that women with a vitamin D deficiency who had been diagnosed with breast cancer had a 94% higher chance of it spreading.
They were also 73% more likely to die within 10 years.
Scientists have found that certain compounds found with vitamin D can help to prevent certain prostate cancers.
A large-scale study suggests that people with higher blood levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of colon cancer.
A study published in 2008 found that people who suffered from high blood pressure were more likely to develop cardiovascular problems if they were vitamin D deficient.
The researchers came discovered the link between vitamin D and heart disease from a long-term survey of 1,739 adults.
Researchers have discovered that people with lower levels of vitamin D were more likely to have depression.
Experts now believe that sun exposure is a useful complementary therapy for people with depression.
A study of 36,000 American women found that test subjects who weren’t getting enough vitamin D and calcium would gain weight faster than women who did.
The vitamin D council also suggests that vitamin D may also be useful for treating conditions including autoimmune disease, diabetes, chronic pain, and autism.
However, more research is required to determine if vitamin D plays an important role in preventing or reducing the impact of these conditions.
Why you need more vitamin D than you think
Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common amongst people living in the UK. Research suggests that about 1 in 5 people have low levels of vitamin D.
This figure varies based upon the season, with rates dramatically increasing in winter when people have less sun exposure.
The most common reason why people suffer from vitamin D deficiency is that they simply spend too much time indoors.
This is particularly true for people who work indoors during the day and those who are housebound (usually the elderly and the ill).
Other risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include:
- Being overweight
- Eating a diet low in dairy and fish
- Having dark skin (as UV light cannot penetrate the skin as easily)
- Always wearing sunscreen or covering the clothing
- Living in a part of the world with limited sunlight (like in a far-off ski property)
- Being elderly
If you have one or more of these risk factors, you may need to make a concerted effort to spend more time in the sun and eat foods high in vitamin D.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
So, how do you know if you aren’t getting enough vitamin D?
There are several telltale signs to watch out for including:
- Getting sick more often
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Slower than normal wound healing
- Bone pain
- Muscle pain
- Hair loss
If you are suffering from one or more of these symptoms and suspect it is caused by a vitamin D deficiency, talk to your doctor.
They will help you understand if you have a deficiency and prescribe a course of action.
Thanks for reading Why You May Need More Vitamin D Than You Think.
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