One billion people worldwide are estimated to be vitamin D deficient. Seventy-six percent of pregnant women are severely deficient, resulting in 65 percent of their unborn children being severely deficient. Nearly half (48 percent) of girls ages nine to 11 are deficient.
Vitamin D is one of the 13 vitamins discovered in the early 20th century by doctors studying nutritional deficiency diseases. Ever since, scientists have defined vitamins as organic (carbon-containing) chemicals that must be obtained from dietary sources because they are not produced by the body’s tissues.
What the big D-eal?
CEO of Skin Authority, Celeste Hilling, explains:
- Vitamin D sufficiency may be as important to disease prevention as eating healthy and working out
- Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, bone loss, eczema, psoriasis, depression and many other serious health conditions
- Vitamin D directly or indirectly controls over 1,000 genes in the body
- It’s not possible to get enough vitamin D through food sources or diet
- Seasonal variations (such as dreary weather in the winter), geographical location and aging reduce our skin’s ability to manufacture vitamin D from sunlight.
The sun can be your friend
The sun’s energy turns a chemical in your skin into vitamin D3, which is carried to your liver and then your kidneys to transform it to active vitamin D. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D.
According to Vitamin D Council, you only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live in the world and the color of your skin. The more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced.
You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. This is a good way to get vitamin D if you can’t get enough sunlight, or if you’re worried about exposing your skin. Vitamin D3 is the best kind of supplement to take. It comes in a number of different forms, such as tablets and capsules, but it doesn’t matter what form you take, or what time of the day you take it.
Who is deficient?
There are signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, but you should always check with your doctor to confirm and before taking any supplements.
Signs and symptoms:
People over 50 could be deficient, even if they have direct sun exposure. Mercola.com reports that as you get older your skin doesn’t make as much vitamin D in response to sun exposure. At the same time, your kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D into the form used by your body and older adults tend to spend more time indoors.
Feeling blue? Serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, rises with exposure to bright light and falls with decreased sun exposure. In 2006, scientists evaluated the effects of vitamin D on the mental health of 80 elderly patients and found those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy doses.
Sweaty head? One of the first, classic signs of vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head. In fact, physicians used to ask new mothers about head sweating in their newborns for this very reason.
Achy, breaky bones? “What’s happening is that the vitamin D deficiency causes a defect in putting calcium into the collagen matrix into your skeleton. As a result, you have throbbing, aching bone pain, says Dr. Michael Holick.
The key to staying young and feeling good is prevention. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”