Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common and most people are unaware of it.
That’s because the symptoms are often subtle and non-specific, meaning that it’s hard to know if they’re caused by low vitamin D levels or something else.
What is Vitamin D ?
Vitamin D is a nutrient needed for health and to maintain strong bones. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in our bodies, helps bring calcium and phosphorus to our bones and teeth, and helps regulate how much calcium remains in our blood. Together with calcium, vitamin D helps protect against the loss of bone mass.
Vitamin D’s importance does not end there. It is also helps muscles function and allows the brain and body to communicate through nerves. And the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. There three ways to get vitamin D: the sun, your diet or supplements.
Vitamin D from the Sun
Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” your body converts sunlight into vitamin D after it hits unprotected skin. However, be careful to avoid extended exposure to sunlight without sunscreen.
Benefits Of Vitamin D
1# Helps maintain bone mineralisation
Vitamin D helps to maintain bone mineralisation by ensuring there is a plentiful supply of calcium in the blood stream. This is achieved since vitamin D helps to enhance the absorption of dietary calcium from the large and small intestines. Studies have also linked vitamin D with a positive effect on the deposition of calcium in bone.
2# Prevents ‘diseases’ such as rickets
Since vitamin D helps to maintain bone mineralisation, it can prevent young children and adults alike from developing a ‘disease’ known as rickets. Infants and children who are deprived of vitamin D can develop rickets – meaning they have deformed bones which are unable to support their weight. It also helps to prevent, and treat weak bones (osteoporosis) and bone pain (osteomalacia).
3# Can treat heart/blood conditions
Vitamin D can be used to improve the conditions of the heart, blood and blood vessels. It has been used to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol (LDL) levels. It has also been used for diabetes, obesity, muscle weakness, asthma, and bronchitis as well as tooth and gum disease.
4# Boosts the immune system
Since vitamin D has a positive effect on your vital organs, such as the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys, it helps to boost the immune system and prevent autoimmune diseases. It has also been linked to preventing cancer.
5# Reduces risk of flu (common cold)
Studies have shown that children who were given 1,200 IU of vitamin D per day for 4 months during the winter has a reduced risk of an influenza infection by 40%.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
There are several signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency which you should look out for. Just because you have some of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you are deficient. However, it is always best to consult your doctor to be on the safe side!
Here are signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
1# Bone and Back Pain
Vitamin D is involved in maintaining bone health through a number of mechanisms. For one, it improves your body’s absorption of calcium. Bone pain and lower back pain may be signs of inadequate vitamin D levels in the blood. Large observational studies have found a relationship between a deficiency and chronic lower back pain.
One study examined the association between vitamin D levels and back pain in more than 9,000 older women. The researchers found that those with a deficiency were more likely to have back pain, including severe back pain that limited their daily activities. In one controlled study, people with vitamin D deficiency were nearly twice as likely to experience bone pain in their legs, ribs or joints compared to those with blood levels in the normal range.
2# Your forehead is often sweaty
Sweatiness on the forehead is one of the first classic noticeable signs of vitamin D deficiency. If you look like you’re glowing even when your body temperature and activity levels are normal, you may need more vitamin D. Try eating more of these vitamin D-rich foods.
3# You’re prone to stress fractures
Most people think of a lack of calcium when talking about bone health, which is true. However, without vitamin D, calcium doesn’t get absorbed properly, Vitamin D, specifically D3, which increases calcium absorption, is critical to preventing bones from becoming thin and brittle A study found, that people who participate in higher-impact activities may need greater levels of vitamin D to reduce their risk of stress fractures.
4# You can’t get a good night’s sleep
Researchers found that people who took more vitamin D had a 16 percent lower risk of having trouble getting a full night’s sleep, according to a Research. Another large study looked at 1,500 neurological patients over a two-year period who also had abnormal sleep. The sleep improvement with [vitamin D] supplementation was measurable.
5# You’re tired all the time
If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, you may feel completely exhausted, even if you get plenty of sleep. There is mounting evidence that vitamin D deficiencies are associated with fatigue and sleep disorders. A study found that low vitamin D levels were prevalent in people who are fatigued. Taking more vitamin D helped improve their symptoms.
6# You are obese or overweight
Since vitamin D is fat soluble, body fat can ‘collect it’. The more body fat you have, the more vitamin D is absorbed, meaning less can be properly utilised. The same can be said for people with large amounts of muscle mass, or those with a larger frame. The larger you are, the more vitamin D you require.
When the body is not able to absorb the calcium due to lack of vitamin D, this leaves you exhausted and weak. Having an adequate amount of vitamin D in the body is essential to provide you the needed energy to go ahead with the day’s work.
8# Severe Hair Loss
Stress can cause loss of hair. But in addition to this your diet also plays a significant role when it comes to hair loss. Lack of certain nutrients in the body, with vitamin D being the major one, leads to significant hair loss among women.
9# You’re 50 or Older
As mentioned, as you get older your skin doesn’t make as much vitamin D in response to sun exposure. At the same time, your kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D into the form used by your body and older adults tend to spend more time indoors (i.e. getting even less sun exposure and therefore vitamin D).
It has been proved that with the progression of age, our body has a decreased ability to synthesize vitamin D from the exposure to the sun. Thus, older people are more likely to suffer from this deficiency.
10# Pregnancy And Breast Feeding
Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers require more vitamin D than others. Moreover, there is a greater likelihood of vitamin D deficiency in women who have had several babies with short gaps between pregnancies. This is because the body’s store of vitamin D gets used up during pregnancy and it requires time to be built up before another pregnancy.
It is important to know the dosage of vitamin D though, before you go about adjusting your intake.
- Infants 0-12 months – 400 IU (10 mcg)
- Children 1-18 years – 600 IU (15 mcg)
- Adults to age 70 – 600 IU (15 mcg)
- Adults over 70 – 800 IU (20 mcg)
- Pregnant or lactating women – 600 IU (15 mcg).
As previously mentioned, sunlight is the biggest sources of vitamin D. However, the best source of vitamin D naturally is from food also.
These foods do contain moderate amounts of vitamin D, however if you are deficient, then the most convenient, cheapest way is to invest in a supplement.
There are a few different kinds of supplements available. One is vitamin tablets, such as Vitamin D3. These are a great direct source of vitamin D, and are easy to consume, so you can instantly hit your daily goals!
Finally, you can opt to take a multivitamin. but consultant your doctor before take.
Vitamin D Rich Food Diet
There are number of different and healthy vitamin d foods, ranging from naturally occurring ones to supplements. Take a look at the top natural sources of vitamin d.
Science textbooks highlight this fact – sunlight is the biggest source of Vitamin D. But remember to bask in the sun for 10 -15 minutes before 8am and at dusk. Beyond that you are asking for trouble, you don’t want skin ailments to plague your skin.
# Whole Milk
Some of the milk you can find at the grocery store has been fortified with Vitamin D. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fortified whole milk when you’re concerned about getting enough Vitamin D to keep you looking and feeling young and healthy. A cup of fortified whole milk provides the body with about 21% of the Vitamin D it needs for the day.
Many soy products such as tofu are fortified with both calcium and Vitamin D, so be sure to check the labels when you’re at the grocery store. Fortified tofu can provide your body with as much as 39% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin D per 100 gram serving. It is also a high protein source!
# Swiss Cheese
Vitamins D and C make a great duo, and both are essential in helping you feel healthier and look younger. Swiss cheese is a viable source of both of these vitamins, so if you’re worried you’re not getting enough of either in your diet, a quick way to help is by adding a slice of Swiss cheese to your sandwich or burgers, or sprinkling a handful of shredded cheese over your salad or pasta.
A whole, large egg contains enough Vitamin D to account for about 7% of the daily recommended intake. And that’s not the only nutrient found in eggs that will help keep you healthy and young: eggs also contain protein, essential amino acids, choline, and sulphur. The wide variety of vitamins and minerals housed inside an egg are great for promoting healthy hair and nails, along with a healthy body overall.
# Soy Milk
Many people drink soy milk for the benefits of healthy soy. If you’re concerned about the amount of Vitamin D and calcium in soy milk versus whole milk, you don’t need to worry; soy milk is a viable source of both. One cup amounts to about 17% of the recommended Vitamin D for the day, and about 6% of the recommended amount of calcium.
The power of mushrooms will leave you astounded. Include them in your diet four times a week and watch your Vitamin D levels shoot up. They can be cooked, baked or pan fried and turned into a tasty and healthy delight. In order to reap more benefits you can sun dry them before consumption. Mushrooms can naturally produce Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
Who doesn’t love cheese? Cheese can single-handedly provide more satisfaction than any other food and we’re thrilled to give you another reason to enjoy it. Cheese is one of the top 5 foods high on Vitamin D. Well, spreading an additional layer of cheese on that morning slice of toast may not be such a bad idea after all. Ricotta cheese provides the maximum amount of Vitamin D amongst others.
All kinds of fish are high on Vitamin D. Typically oily or fatty fish contain more Vitamin D than less oily fish. An example of oily fish would be a juicy thick fillet of salmon. Other common options are trout, mackerel, tuna or eel.
# Canned Salmon
Eating canned salmon is a great way to meet your Vitamin D requirements for the day. Fresh salmon is great too, but canned salmon allows you to stock up for those dark winter months, when sun (and precious Vitamin D) isn’t so plentiful. A 100-gram serving of canned salmon equates to 91% of the recommended amount of Vitamin D the average person needs each day, along with several other nutrients that contribute to your health and youthful glow.
# Cod Liver Oil
As you might have guessed from the name, cod liver oil comes from the liver of the cod fish. You can find it in oil form or in capsule form. And though it’s actually considered a supplement instead of a food, taking it is one of the easiest ways to get more Vitamin D.
You’ll have to eat 6 ounces of tuna daily to obtain 50% of your vitamin D needs.Fresh, wild-caught tuna is the most nutritious. Remember, oily fish can also provide the body with “good fats” that support memory and brain function.
Oatmeal is often fortified with essential vitamin D. They are the best foods to start your day with as they provide you with a number of vitamins and minerals. One packet of fortified oatmeal provides 154 IU of vitamin D.
Good news for all the butter enthusiasts! While it is typically frowned upon by dieters, this ‘fatty’ food is known to contain a small amount of vitamin D.
Butter is saturated fat, and it is essential to aid the absorption of antioxidants and vitamins by the body. It also assists in the absorption of vitamin D obtained from other sources.
Always remember that quantity is the key. Don’t go overboard with butter. When consumed in moderation, it can actually be a healthy addition to your diet.
# Sour Cream
Sour cream, apart from giving a tasty twist to snacks, is also known to contain vitamin D.
This dip can be added to your diet to extract most of its health benefits. Sour cream is a rich source of essential nutrients like proteins, vitamin A, potassium, and calcium. And, what’s more? Every tablespoon of sour cream contains just 28 calories. Healthier than expected, isn’t it?
Margarine spreads are fortified with vitamin D, which makes them a delicious option.
Being one of the vitamin d rich foods, it is a healthier alternative to normal butter as it contains 65% less saturated fats than butter. Margarine also contains moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, which make it a good option for breakfast.
# Orange Juice
One of the best vitamin d fruits. A glass of fresh orange juice is the best way to start your day. You can also consider packaged juices if fresh fruits are not available. This is perfect for those who dislike dairy products.
Packaged orange juice is equipped with good amounts of vitamin D. One cup of orange juice contains 100 IU vitamin D and 120 calories.
Oysters are one of the best vitamin d rich foods.Raw wild-caught oysters contain 320 IU of vitamin D per 100 grams – a whopping 80% of our daily requirement. In addition, oysters are also a good source of vitamin B12, zinc, iron, manganese, selenium, and copper.
Though raw oysters have a higher nutritional value, one should properly cook them before eating to destroy the harmful bacteria present in them.
Note: Oysters are high in cholesterol and should be consumed in moderation, especially by people suffering from cardiovascular ailments.
Some forms of cereals also contain vitamin D.
Before buying cereals, check the nutritional value on the label to get an idea about the percentage of vitamin D content. Choose the ones that contain at least 100 IU of vitamin D. All bran cereals provide 131 IU of vitamin D, while fruit-flavored cereals provide 11 IU of vitamin D.
Most fruits lack vitamin D with the exception of oranges. A glass of orange juice is rich in calcium and vitamin D.
# Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Packed with flavor and nutrients, dried shiitakes win on shelf life and vitamin D, with eight times more than fresh (the drying process boosts vitamin D). The meaty morsels also have anti-viral and anti-cancer properties, and have been linked to lowered cholesterol.
Yogurt has many of the same health benefits as milk, and many brands are fortified with additional vitamin D as well. Because vitamin D helps you to absorb calcium into your bones, choosing a yogurt that’s rich in both could be doing your skeleton some serious favours.
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