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Defend Yourself Against the Dangers of Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Category: Nutrition
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Defend Yourself Against the Dangers of Vitamin D Deficiency

Are you getting enough Vitamin D? As a resident of North Dakota or Minnesota, you probably are not. Vitamin D is an important component of health and well-being, having a lack of it can cause serious health issues. Luckily, preventing vitamin D deficiency is easier than you might think.


1. Details

Vitamin D is the only vitamin that is also a hormone. We get some Vitamin D from food sources like milk (either dairy or non-dairy), which is routinely fortified with Vitamin D across the US, and oily fish like salmon and tuna (and don’t forget everyone’s favorite: cod liver oil!). The average American diet doesn’t provide an adequate level of Vitamin D. D is also naturally created when your skin absorbs ultraviolet rays from the sun. However, in the northern states, we are unable to get enough of it most of the year. Even if you decide to brave the winter weather and take a stroll outside in your bathing suit, the angle of the sun is such that you will hardly synthesize any Vitamin D.

2. Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency can cause a variety of health problems. Osteomalacia (soft bones), muscle and bone aches and pains, and muscle weakness are clearly identified risks of not getting enough D. These conditions are painful, increase your risk of bone fractures and falls, and make standing and walking more difficult.

In addition to living in a northern state, risk factors for Vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Being overweight. Excess weight can cause deficiency by trapping and deactivating Vitamin D in fat cells.
  • A history of gastric bypass. After gastric bypass surgery, a large portion of the intestine responsible for Vitamin D absorption is removed.
  • Spending a majority of your time indoors. If you aren’t out in the sun as often, you’ll produce less D naturally.
  • Aging. With age, our skin becomes less able to synthesize Vitamin D.
  • Those with darker skin. More melanin = less Vitamin D production

3. Defense

Fortunately, inexpensive Vitamin D supplements work very similarly to the natural form produced in your skin. During the winter, I recommend taking a supplement of either D2 or preferably D3. Most adults should aim to get between 800 and 4,000 International Units (IUs) each day. For those with one or more of the risk factors above, aim for the upper limit of 4,000. You may need more than these doses if you are deficient, but you should get your vitamin D level checked before taking more. Remember to factor in Vitamin D from food sources and multivitamins when considering supplement doses.

Vitamin D supplements are a quick and easy means of preventing injury down the road.