by DR. KASIA SUAREZ
Vitamin D is needed in our bodies. It supports our body in order for it to function well.
Not only does vitamin D support our bones but it also has been shown to help prevent some cancers and support our immune system.
Why is having strong bones important? For starters, strong bones can help prevent certain conditions such as rickets, which is a disorder that in children causes them to have weak and brittle bones. And this is as a result of having a vitamin D deficiency. Osteomalacia is the adult version of having soft bones. Additionally, if we have weak bones, it can lead to us having osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is essential in supporting calcium and phosphorus in building our bones. When vitamin D is taken, or absorbed from the sun, it then converts to the active form of the vitamin and this active form is what supports calcium absorption.
Additionally, vitamin D supports our parathyroid glands. The parathyroid gland helps our bodies balance calcium in our blood by communicating with our organs and body. When we have enough calcium and active Vitamin D, the parathyroid is able to balance out the calcium. But if there is a calcium deficiency, the parathyroid will have to borrow the calcium from the skeleton to keep our blood circulating. And guess what happens when calcium is borrowed from the skeleton?
Not to mention vitamin D supports our immune system! Vitamin D helps strengthen our immune system and reduce the risks of colds, flus, viruses and infections!
So what are some symptoms of vitamin D deficiencies?
Children experience muscle weakness as well as painful muscles. It is not as easy to detect in adults. But some signs include having fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness and aches, and mood changes.
There are numerous health problems associated with vitamin D deficiency. These include: heart disease and high blood pressure, diabetes, immune system disorders, older people experience more falls, certain types of cancers, and Multiple Sclerosis.
The best source of vitamin D is sun exposure. Because vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to the sunlight. In particular, it comes from the ultraviolet radiation that comes from the sun. Sitting out in the sun 15-20 min about three times per week is enough (make sure to wear your sunscreen). There are also certain factors that affect how much vitamin D is produced in your body from the sun such as the seasons, the time of day, location (where you live), and the melanin in your skin.
You can also get vitamin D from your food, although it does not come naturally in certain foods. You will notice on nutrition labels, certain foods have added vitamin D. Vegans or individuals that are lactose-intolerant may have a more difficult time getting vitamin D from foods. Some foods that contain vitamin D include: cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna, orange juice that’s fortified with vitamin D, milk, yogurt, egg yolk, cereal, cheese, and liver.
The last source of vitamin D is from supplements, which is the most popular source. Make sure you consult your physician about the appropriate amount to take of the vitamin D supplement. Once your doctor checks your blood levels, they will be able to recommend the appropriate doses of vitamin D.
With the colder months coming our way and less opportunities for getting those sun rays in, make sure to stay on top of your vitamin D intake. Get regular blood work checks done, and ensure you get the appropriate amount of vitamin D to support your body, your immune system and avoid vitamin D deficiency.