Most people think they know about vitamin D; but do they understand what it does, where it is found, and what happens if we don’t have enough?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as a hormone. It is one of the few vitamins that our bodies can make and store. It is essential for promoting the absorption of calcium in the intestine and the maintenance of calcium and phosphate concentrations in the blood, and bones. Vitamin D also plays a major role in coding several genes, and the list goes on…
Most people think that we get vitamin D from the sun. Avoiding chemical reactions; it is actually stored in the skin in a less active form, and then activated with sunlight. Vitamin D is also found in a variety of foods. Fish and dairy are the most common places to find rich sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D has a relatively short half-life (time it spends in the body before being broken down). This means that the active form of vitamin D added to milk, is most likely already broken down by the enzymes in milk before it even gets to the consumer.
Most doctors push a vitamin D supplement during the winter months because people tend to stay inside more and out of the sun. But, people who are active outside in the summer actually store access vitamin D in their fat cells. This vitamin D is then activated, when needed, by the liver and the kidneys. For some people, taking a supplement would be beneficial. Statistics show that over 30% of doctors and medical students are vitamin D deficient. 40% of Americans, in general, are vitamin D deficient. Lastly, over 75% of pregnant women are vitamin D deficient. The elderly population is also commonly vitamin D deficient. Some medications can cause vitamin D deficiency, along with several malabsorption conditions like Crohns Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiacs Disease, and Cystic Fibrosis. For these individuals, vitamin D supplementation would be beneficial.
Vitamin D deficiency can cause:
- Rickets – A de-mineralization or softening of bones, mostly seen in the long bones of children.
- Osteomalacia – A disorder that thins and weakens the bone producing musculoskeletal pain and bone fragility in adults.
Vitamin D deficiency is often miss-diagnosed as Fibromyalgia because the symptoms of muscle weakness, aches, and pain are very similar. A vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to several diseases and disorders, such as depression and multiple types of cancers.
So get outdoors and start enjoying the sun!