by Surela Chakravorty | 02 JAN 2018
Vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin is synthesised by the body only when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Eating Vitamin D rich foods and supplements can make up for the vitamin D that is not produced naturally by the body. So it is important to take vitamin D externally. Those who do not get enough sunlight or stay indoors most of the time and individuals who consume less of protein and follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet may have the risk of developing Vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and it helps the body to utilize calcium from the diet. Generally vitamin D deficiency was associated with rickets, a disease in which the bones don't mineralize properly leading to soft bones and deformities.
Now studies reveal Vitamin D deficiency is associated with other health problems as well. According to research vitamin D can also help to prevent a host of health problems associated with Type 1 and 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis. Low levels of vitamin D can result in cognitive impairment in the elderly people, risk of cardiovascular disease, severe asthma in children and cancer.
In some people the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are not pronounced, while in other muscle weakness and bone pain can be the sure signs of vitamin D deficiency. It is common knowledge that people living in cold countries or northern lattitudes, stay indoors wear robes and headdress for religious purposes can be susceptible to vitamin D deficiency. Also, those who follow a strict vegetarian and vegan diet can also develop vitamin D deficiency, since the food sources of this sunshine vitamin is all animal based.
Well, this doesn't mean that non-vegetarians can't get vitamin D deficiency. Nowadays, vitamin D deficiency has become a common health problem for many. Here are some factors that cause vitamin D deficiency-
Some studies show that people who have dark skin can get vitamin D deficiency since melanin reduces the skin's ability to produce vitamin D. Elderly people with dark skin are more prone to vitamin D deficiency.
With age the kidneys are not able to convert vitamin D into its active form that can be easily utilised by the body.
Due to certain disorders in the digestive tract like then Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis and celiac disease the intestine's ability to absorb vitamin D from the diet becomes difficult.
Since vitamin D is extracted from blood by fat cells changing the way vitamin D is released into the blood circulation. So people who are obese or have body mass index of 30 or more tend to have low levels of vitamin D.
Best way to measure vitamin D levels in the body is opting for the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is the level of vitamin D present in healthy individuals. A level less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency can be treated by taking vitamin rich foods and supplements:
Fish with lots of fat like tuna, mackarel and salmon contain adequate amounts of vitamin D. Infact, 6 ounces of salmon alone contains more than 600 international units or IU of vitamin D.
Soy milk, cereals, orange juice and some dairy products like cheese also contain a good amount of vitamin D.
Egg yolks and beef liver also contain a lot of vitamin D.The Institute of Medicine recommends the intake of 600IU of vitamin D for people belonging to 1-70 and it can be raised to 800IU for adults older than 70 to maintain proper bone health.
Sometimes,doctors may also prescribe 400IU of vitamin D to treat the deficiency.Since sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production and without sun protection one can get tanned, so it is best to ask your doctor how to treat vitamin D deficiency.
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