Known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods including fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks, fortified dairy and grain products. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium from the diet. Conventionally, Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with Rickets, a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. But increasingly, research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems.
Deficiency of Vitamin D can occur for a number of reasons:-
- Lower than recommended consumption of Vitamin D. If a person follow a strict vegetarian diet, because most of the natural sources of Vitamin D are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver.
- Limited exposure to sunlight. The body makes Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, you may be at risk of deficiency if you are homebound, live in northern latitudes, wear long robes or head coverings for religious reasons, or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure.
- Dark skin. The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Some studies show that older adults with darker skin are at high risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
- Kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form. Due to aging the Kidneys stop to convert Vitamin D to its active form, thus increasing their risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
- Digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D. Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease and some other ailments can affect your intestine’s ability to absorb Vitamin D from the food.
- Obesity. Person with a Body Mass Index (BMI)of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of Vitamin D.
Bone Pain and Muscle Weakness can mean you have a Vitamin D Deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are faint. Even without any symptoms, too modest Vitamin D can pose health risks.
Low blood levels of Vitamin D have been associated with the following:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Cognitive impairment in older adults
- Severe Asthma in children
Treatment for Vitamin D deficiency involves getting more vitamin D through diet, supplements, and/or through spending more time in the sun. Although there is no consensus on vitamin D levels required for optimal health, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D to 600 international units (IU) for everyone aged 1-70, and raising it to 800 IU for adults older than 70 to optimize bone health.