According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D deficiency is now a pandemic. In Australia alone, studies indicate that one in every three people suffer this deficiency - are you one of them?
Vitamin D has long been recognised as essential to bone and teeth health, but recently discovered to play a role in the prevention of cancer, autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and diabetes, and infectious diseases including respiratory infections among children. Studies have shown having sufficient levels of vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 43%.
Most at risk for a deficiency are the elderly, the obese, women, people with a non-European background, and those who lead a sedentary lifestyle or do less than two and a half hours exercise per week. Men are not immune with many developing a deficiency during winter.
Sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor
Additional risk factors include having diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression and schizophrenia.
The symptoms are not specific, and you may not experience any symptoms but some possible warning signs include:
chronic gum disease
melancholy or low/depressed moods
If you're feeling sad, you may just need vitamin D
The reality is it's virtually impossible to get adequate vitamin D from diet alone - unless you're prepared to consume a plate of fatty fish every day. Foods that are fortified with vitamin D are not necessarily the answer either - there isn't sufficient evidence that the vitamin D in these foods is in a form that is readily taken up and used by the body.
Salmon every day. Courtesy of Dan/freedigitalphotos.net
One must ensure sufficient exposure to sunlight, which promotes the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin - it seems Australia may have taken the sun tan warnings a little too seriously! While over-exposure may lead to skin cancer, too little sunlight in your life will lead to a vitamin D deficiency. Be sensible with your sun exposure, you only need five to ten minutes a day in mid-morning or mid-afternoon sun; exercise caution in the middle of the day when UV levels are highest.
Make time each day to get a little sun
To confirm if you have a vitamin D deficiency you'll need a blood test from your doctor; if positive, you may need supplementation for a time until your levels normalise. If you are having a blood test it may be worthwhile requesting your doctor test all vitamin and mineral levels as they all work synergistically within the body - a deficiency in one may cause or be caused by an oversupply of another, and vice versa. Or a deficiency in one may cause a further deficit in others; vitamin D for example is necessary for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
Even if you aren't experiencing any symptoms, a vitamin D deficiency can cause serious, long term health problems. Best to get it checked out!
Great topic to share. My hubby found out through a routine blood test that his Vit D levels were almost non-existent, even though he does get out in the sun. His body just doesn't seem to absorb it. It now looks as though it may hereditary in his family. It's something I've been reading about in alternative health publications for years but only recently has been getting coverage in mainstream media. Everyone needs to be very aware but keep in mind, even when you do get some sun exposure you can still be deficient.
Thank you for the article.