New research has linked low vitamin D levels to numerous health dangers and provided further evidence that the “sunshine vitamin” plays a much greater role in our health than just strengthening our bones. Vitamin D is involved in nearly every system and process in your body, and if you don’t get enough of it, you may be putting your health at risk.
A recent study of 18,225 men by Harvard scientists linked low vitamin D with heart attacks and cardiovascular mortality. And previous research has linked low vitamin D with high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, which all can contribute to heart problems.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body utilize calcium from the foods we eat. Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, but more and more research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against numerous health problems.
Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency
If you have bone pain and muscle weakness, it could be a sign of a vitamin D deficiency. However, you may not notice any symptoms. But with or without symptoms, not getting enough vitamin D can put your health at risk including the following:
- Increased risk of death from cardiovascular problems.
- Cognitive impairment in older adults.
- Severe asthma in children.
- Plus, Research has found that vitamin D could play a role in warding off and managing many different conditions, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis, among many others.
What is Vitamin D Deficiency’s Major Causes?
- Lacking vitamin D in your diet, especially if you are a vegetarian since most of the food sources of vitamin D are animal products, including fish, egg yolks, cheese, and fortified milk.
- You don’t get much sun. Your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunshine, so you may be deficient if you avoid the sun, or if you live in parts of the world that don’t get as much year-round sunshine.
- You have dark skin. Melanin, the pigment which darkens the skin, reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight. So people with dark skin have an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency compared to people with lighter skin.
- Your kidneys can’t convert vitamin D to its active form. As we age, our ability to convert vitamin D to its active form deteriorates, which increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency.
- Your body can’t absorb vitamin D properly. Certain medical problems, such as Crohn’s, cystic fibrosis, and celiac conditions, can affect your body’s ability to absorb vitamin D.
- You are overweight. Fat cells remove vitamin D from the blood so it’s common for people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher, which is considered clinically obese, to have low levels of vitamin D.
Tests for Vitamin D Deficiency
A simple blood test can determine if there is adequate vitamin D in the blood, which is 20 to 50 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL). Less than 20 ng/mL is considered a deficiency.
What to do if You are Deficient
If you have a deficiency, the simple solution is to get more vitamin D through your diet and nutritional supplements.
Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine boosted the maximum daily vitamin D intake to 4,000 IU. The Institute of Medicine sets the minimum recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D at 600 IU for everyone aged 1-70, and 800 IU for adults over 70.
To ensure you’re getting enough of this important vitamin, consider taking a nutritional supplement, such as Healthy Choice Naturals Vitamin-D Essential Complex. It provides a full 4,000 IU of daily vitamin D3, plus K-2 and other powerful ingredients shown to promote proper vitamin D metabolism and improved absorption and utilization by up to 274%.
What is vitamin D deficiency? It is a serious health concern that can be avoided by making sure you get enough vitamin D from your diet, from the sun, and from health supplements.