Tired, feeling lazy, bone pain, muscle weakness, just not feeling like you? It could be that you are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. Many people suffer from vitamin D deficiency and never even know it. The symptoms are generally subtle. Low vitamin D can pose a health risks and can be associated with cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, severe asthma in children and cancer. There have even been some studies that suggest vitamin D could help in the treatment and prevention of type 1 and 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.
Do we know what causes a vitamin D deficiency? Well, there are a number of things that contribute to it. Sometimes it is as simple as we are not consuming the right amount of vitamin D over time. This happens to people that are following a strict vegetarian diet. Vitamin D is found in many different animal based sources, such as fish, fish oil, egg yolk, cheese, fortified milk, and beef liver.
Exposure to sunlight is important; vitamin D is made in the body when your skin is exposed to the sun. There are many reasons you may not get enough sun, you live in northern latitudes, have a job that prevents you from getting sun, homebound, or maybe you wear long robes or head coverings (for religious reasons) that prevent you from getting the sunlight you need.
If you have dark skin, the pigment in dark skin, melanin, reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D from sunlight exposure. This occurs more in older adults.
The older you get the less likely your kidneys will be able to convert vitamin D into its active form. Certain medical problems such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease will prevent the absorption of vitamin D from the things you eat.
Obese people sometimes have a problem with a vitamin D deficiency. When you have a body mass index of over 30 or greater you will have lower levels of vitamin D. Why is this? When you are overweight vitamin D is released from the blood by fat cells and this alters its release into circulation.
The only real way to know for sure if you suffer from a vitamin D deficiency is to have a blood test. You doctor can order one and he will be able to tell you if there is a problem.
How do you treat a vitamin D deficiency? The only way is to get more vitamin D is to change your diet and take a vitamin D supplement. You can even spend more time in the sun, but be careful how much time you spend in the sun and use a sunscreen.
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