Vitamin D Deficiency

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Vitamin D is essential for not only bone health, and deficiency of vitamin D not only affects bone health, but various other health problems. Without vitamin D, dietary calcium cannot be absorbed and there will be calcium deficiency and problem in bones and other organs.

By definition, vitamin D is actually not a vitamin (vitamins are those substances that are required in very small quantities and or body cannot synthesize, hence must be supplied in the diet), because it can be synthesized by our body (skin) when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D plays important role in bone health, as well as functioning of heart, muscles, lungs, brain and ensures good health.

Individuals with vitamin D deficiency are huge in number and percentage. Very little outdoor activities, stressed life, long working hours, non-balanced diet etc. are responsible for vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency of vitamin D.

Who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

Many groups of individuals are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, such as

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Men of 30-60 years of age
  • Elderly individuals who do not get adequate sun exposure
  • Children up to five years of age due to high demand
  • Females of 15-30 years of age

What health problems vitamin D deficiency may cause?

Typically, vitamin D deficiency in children leads to rickets and in adults it leads to osteomalacia. Vitamin D deficiency may cause weak bones (due to inadequate mineralization of bones) which lead to greater risk of fracture. Vitamin D deficiency leads to osteomalacia, muscle weakness, which contribute in osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Many recent studies have suggested that vitamin D deficiency leads to heart disease as well as diabetes.

How to prevent vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency?

Prevention of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is not difficult at all, but unfortunately, more than 50% of population in some countries suffers from vitamin D deficiency.

Prevent vitamin D deficiency the following ways:

  • Exposure to early morning sun for 15 minutes a day is sufficient to produce adequate vitamin D for us. So jog or exercise in early morning sun and get enough vitamin D from your skin. Do not get exposed to midday sun without sunscreen, because it is harmful and may cause skin cancer.
  • Fish oil is rich in vitamin D, and taking fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, fish oils, as well as egg yolks etc. can supply recommended dose of vitamin D.
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, cereals, are also rich in vitamin D
  • Vitamin D supplementation is another good way to get enough vitamin D. supplementation of vitamin D is cost effective. Sachet containing 60,000 international units of vitamin D, should be taken once a week for two months (to build up the body store) and later on one sachet of 60,000 international units of vitamin D for maintenance is sufficient to prevent vitamin D deficiency.

Too much vitamin D can be problematic too. Hence, do not take weekly dose of one sachet of 60,000 international units of vitamin D for more than 2 months, as it can lead to vitamin D toxicity. Excess vitamin D may lead to kidney damage, kidney stones, dehydration etc.

 

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