My friend, Michele, was recently diagnosed as vitamin D deficient. She was a warm weather sun lover and drinks milk at least twice a day which is why her diagnosis took her by surprise. This news poked me in the side and made me realize that many people aren’t aware of the importance of this vitamin and how it can affect your health and wellness. So I’m here to shed a little light on the subject.
You may have heard vitamin D referred to as the Sunshine Vitamin and for a good reason. Our bodies can absorb vitamin D when we are out in the sun. Having the appropriate levels of vitamin D in our system helps us better able absorb calcium which we all know is good for our bones but did you know that it’s also good for our hormones, teeth, muscles, nerve function, and our ability to form blood clots? It has also been shown to positively affect high blood pressure and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). All good news, right?
Other than the sun, how can we get vitamin D? Here are a few places:
- Fatty fish such as eel, mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna
- Fortified cow’s milk (you may also find soy and rice milk that is fortified with vitamin D)
- Fortified orange juice
- Fortified cereal
- Egg yolks
- Cod liver oil (most likely everyone’s worst option)
- Beef liver (probably everyone’s second worst option)
- and of course, supplements
As you can see, many of the food items are “fortified” with vitamin D. This means that the vitamin D was added into the product because a) it was not present in the original form b) it was removed or reduced during processing. You need to check the labels. Not all cereal, milk, and juices will be fortified.
I mentioned that Michele was a sun lover and milk drinker… so why the vitamin D deficiency diagnosis? Well, in the past few years she has been diagnosed with skin cancer (four times) and now uses a high SPF sunscreen when she’s outside. Her doctor has also encouraged her to reduce her milk intake due to the high levels of fats in most milk products. Not a fan of supplements, Michele is now trying to incorporate more healthy food options into her diet.
Now we know what vitamin D is and where we can get it, let’s talk about some of the things we may be at risk for if we become and stay deficient.
- Muscle weakness which can result in falls, loss of the ability to use hand strength, and general overall body muscle fatigue.
- Broken bones due to the fact that we stop naturally building bone mass around the age of 30 leaving us to depend on vitamin D and healthy calcium levels to keep our bones strong.
- Feeling blue can be contributed to low vitamin D in our body. I mentioned that vitamin D is good for our hormones. Serotonin is a hormone in our brain which helps regulate our moods. Low vitamin D = lower serotonin which can = depression.
It is reported that vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem affecting 1 billion (with a B) people. According to The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 50% of children aged 1-5 years, and 70% of children between the ages of 6 – 11 years are deficient in vitamin D. Fifty percent of all adults may be deficient and an astonishing 90% of senior citizens can be classified at having a vitamin D deficiency.
Do you know what all this tells me? It’s time for each of us to have this discussion with our doctor. A simple blood test will help you and your healthcare practitioner determine your vitamin D levels.
Stay healthy and thanks for continuing to read and share my posts.