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Are you Vitamin D deficient?
Mahvish Renzu11/14/2019 10:50:45 PM
The answer to this question should not just be a yes or a no,instead the first thing that everyone should think about is how would one know whether they are really deficient or not?
So to be able to answer this very question enlighten yourself with some facts regarding this vital vitamin, Like how it functions, what are its resources, how it is stored in our body and also some of the very common symptoms that occur if one does become deficient.
1. Bone and back pain: it is the most common symptom of all. Vitamin D helps in maintaining bone health in a no.of ways, one of which is that it is essential for balancing an optimum level of calcium in our body by increasing its absorption from the gut and decreasing the excess amount of excretion of from the kidneys. Therefore its deficiency may result in decreased bone formation which will further cause reduced bone density and more risk of bone fracture. It is also important for bone remodeling as it acts asa potent stimulator of bone formation.
In adults a severe deficiency of vitamin D may lead to "osteomalacia" which is softening of bones and cause a dull bone painespecially in lower back, hips, pelvis, legs and ribs. The pain may be worse at night when you put weight on the effected bones. However in children vitaminD deficiency canbe threatening as it may manifest as rickets which results in bending of legs, impaired growth of long bones and several other skeletal deformities. Children who are deficient are also often found to have started walking late and some end up with stunted growth.
2. Muscle pain: according to one of the research study, about 71% of peoplewith chronic muscle pain who took part in the study were found to be vitaminD deficient. Vitamin D deficiency actually has a plenty to do with muscle pain and weakness.
3. Fatigueand tiredness: feeling tired can have many causes and vitaminD deficiency may be one of them, it can have a serious negative effect in the quality of lifeand is a most common cause seen in woman who usually complain of chronic daytime fatigue and headache.
4. Depression: According to a research study held byMarrisa Flaherty MD (Department Psychiatry University of Maryland School Of Medicine In Baltimore ).It is stated that people who are vitaminD deficient and depressed seemto respond best to supplements of vitaminD, she noticed a lot of her depressed patients had a very low vitamin D level and whenshe supplemented them with vitaminD their depressive symptoms particularly their fatigue and energy levels would improve.
It is a well Known fact that vitamin D receptors have been found in several areas of brain and is implicated in mental illness such as depression, it is plausible that vitaminD or vitaminD deficiency has a role in the pathogenesis of mental illness.
5. Immunity: getting sick or infected quite often can be due to vitamin Ddeficiency. VitaminD is requiredfor keeping our immune system strong so that we are able to fight off viruses and bacteria, it does this by increasing the WBC count, infact a no. of studies have stated that taking vitaminD supplements at a dose of 4000 IU (10-20 gm)daily may decrease the risk of respiratory tract infection.
6. Hair loss: loosing hair is often attributed to stress but even decreased vitamin D levels is linked to Alopecia Areataor maybe a risk factor for developing the disease.
7. Cancer: it is known that vitamin D has anti-tumor properties like regulating genes and multiplication of cells. Some studies have suggested a link between low vitamin D levels and cancer risk and progression. None have proven the cause and effect yet.
VitaminD deficiency is incredibly common and people are usually unaware of it since the symptoms are vague and non-specific, it is hard to know if they are caused by low vitaminD levels or some other condition. If you think you have similar symptoms and are unsure of any other reason causing them, you should speak to your doctor and get your blood levels measured. Fortunately vitaminD deficiency is easy to fix and requires proper supplements.
So what set of people are more likely to develop this deficiency?
1. Dark Skin: Sun exposure is the major source of vitaminD thereforit is also named a 'sunshine vitamin'. Therefore our body vitaminD levels majorly depend on the amount of sun exposure we get. People with dark skin are more likely to be vitaminD deficient because they have increased amount of melanin in their skin. Melanin happens to be a pigment which protects the skin from the UVB rays and allows less UVB rays to penetrate the skin which inturn results in decreased vitamin D production. So people with naturally darker skin requirethree to fourtimes more exposure to sun.
2. Age: Although vitamin D deficiency is seen in all age groups but elderly people need more vitamin than younger population as their skin is not able to produce enough.
3. Location: the suns UVB rays, the so called tanning rays are the rays that trigger the skin to produce vitamin D. They are stronger near the equator and weaker at higher latitudes. So in the season of fall or winter, people who live at higher latitude like in our valley itself, can't make enough vitaminD.
A study held in Kashmir by Dr. Zargar and his team stated that vitaminD deficiencyis quite prevalent in our valley as well and is seen in 3 quarter of healthy men and nearby all women mostly due to long winters, less exposure to the UVB rays, indoor occupation, excessive veiling in women.
4. Indoor settings: most of the working class stay indoors including physicians, nurses etc.Even children tend to play indoors these days which hampers the sun exposure. If people go out with sunscreen applied to the exposed skin, it reduces ability to absorb UVB rays and decreases vitaminD production
5. Breast feeding: infants who are exclusively breast fed can develop vitaminD deficiency because breast milk is a poor source of vitaminD.
6. Steroid: People who take any form of steroid develop vitamin D deficiency.
7. Decreased absorption: People who have had gastric bypass surgery or have malabsorption disease or decreased dietary intake of vitaminD.
Vitamin D deficiency is treatable?
It definitely is treatable and can be fixed if we get an appropriate supplementation and sunshine exposure. It is a little hard to get a proper vitamin D rich diet therefore sunshine and supplements should be our main source but we should definitely try having a vitaminD rich diet.
Which type of food to consider?
Fatty fish
Egg yolk
Beef liver
Soy products
Dairy products
How to take the supplements properly?
Take vitaminD3 which is the active form of vitaminD and also take it with food, the fattier the meal the better it is as it increases the absorption.
Recommendation from the US institute of medicine suggests that the average intake of is 400 - 800 IU or 10-20 micrograms is adequate, for those who aren't being exposed to sun may require an increased amount.
How to get enough source of vitaminD from sun exposure?
In strong sun exposing arms and legs for 5-10 min (10am to 3 pm) is usually enough to meet the daily requirements of people with lighter skin and those with darker skin may require a little more time out in the sun.
However if you live far from equator you may require supplements or food as well. Sun exposure should not be in excess such that it causes skin related issues.
Is breastmilk a poor source of vitamin D?
Human breastmilk is a very poor source of vitamin D. This is why it is recommended that all breastfed infants should receive vitamin D by supplement drops. Prescribed by the pediatrician This is not a defect in breast milk but a defect in the recommended amount of vitamin D the lactating mom should be taking. If a mom takes an appropriate vitamin D supplements, she will supply her nursing infant with plenty of vitamin D through her milk and will not need to give her infant drops.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for our bones and many other aspect of health.
A deficiency is very common throughout the world, it can occur in any age group and can have various bad effects on our health. You should add vitamin D rich food in your diet considering where you live and how often you get exposed to sun. Vitamin D deficiency symptoms are subtle and difficult to rule out therefore we should consult our doctor to get proper supplements if needed.
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