Fight the Vitamin D Deficiency

Hearing the word Rickets may cause you to think about your grandparents or times that are long past, perhaps it will surprise you that it is a concern still today.  Ensuring that you or your family are getting sufficient levels of a daily intake of this vital vitamin is of extreme importance and will have a tremendous effect on the growth, health, function, and development of the human body.  While vitamin D is well known for its role in absorbing and utilizing calcium in building strong bones, it has also shown that it regulates the immune system and neuromuscular system, as well as modulation of cell growth.  The health field is currently studying the correlation between vitamin D and depression, chronic pain, diabetes, certain cancers, and autoimmune issues as they are recognize its importance to health.

The current recommendation for daily intake of Vitamin D is 400 International Units for children from birth to 12 months, 600 IU for children from 1-18 and adults from 19-70.  After 70, it is suggested to increase to 800 IU.  Elderly individuals may not synthesize vitamin D due to aging or they may not spend much time in the outdoors exposed to the benefits of sunbathing. It is suggested that those who are either pregnant or breastfeeding are should take in 600 IU also.  It seems that human breastmilk does not serve as a sufficient source for vitamin D and therefore it has been recommended that mother’s supplement their child’s diet.   

When children do not have enough vitamin D as they develop, it can cause malabsorption of calcium in bones and teeth, and muscle function leading to misshapen bones like bowed legs or leg cramps. In later years it can lead to osteomalacia in adults. It can also create deficiency in your mouth leading to gum disease, tooth decay, and malformed teeth.  Vitamin D certainly plays an important part in the structure and function of our physical body and it’s performance.

Where can we get Vitamin D?

Adding the following into your diet will help to elevate your vitamin D levels, fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, swordfish – which is a particularly good source, mackerel, beef liver, egg yolks, cheese, and mushrooms.  There are also a number of fortified options like orange juice, milk, breakfast cereals, soy protein drinks, yogurts and dairy products that you can add to your daily intake. 

Additionally you can spend time in the sunshine allowing your body to generate it.  Spending 10-15 minutes a day several times a week, can help to make sure that you are getting sufficient amounts of vitamin D.  Some researchers recommend that you do this between the hours of 10AM and 3PM, of course exposing your face, arms, legs, and back without covering or sunscreen.  Adequate levels can be maintained with a combination of diet and sun exposure.

If you still think you might be lacking, there are always supplements.  The levels which begin to cause problems of over dosing on vitamin D have shown to be above 10,000 IU.  While sunbathing does not generate toxic levels, supplementing can.  There are studies available explaining those risks.

Do you have absorption concerns?

Since vitamin D is fat soluble there are people with conditions that can cause malabsorption, such as obesity, those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, people with inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and possibly ulcerative colitis.  Perhaps spending time in the sun would be of greater benefit to you in ensuring that you reach the necessary amounts of vitamin D to build your immune system and protect against deficiency.

Feeling cognitively impaired?

Are you struggling with your memory, taking greater time to sort out information that you have easily navigated in the past?  Studies have been conducted looking into vitamin D levels in seniors and trying to establish a causal relationship in cognitive function and the speed in which information is processed.  It’s not definitive but so far they’ve found that those who’ve demonstrated better abilities have higher levels in their body.  Science has been aware that enzymes are activated and deactivated within the brain and cerebrospinal fluid that contributes to the production of neurotransmitters and nerve development.  It lends a protection to the neurons and seems to inhibit inflammation.

Scientists hope to unlock these secrets as populations are living longer and cognitive function decline often precedes the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Studies are focusing heavily on this in an effort to improve the health and well being of our seniors.   

There are 2 forms of Vitamin D.

Vitamin D produced by your body when exposed to sunlight is called D3, the other form is D2 and is produced in mushrooms and often found in supplemented non dairy milks, such as soy, almond, or coconut milk.  The body utilizes vitamin D3 as it is the biological active form and contributes the most to healing the body.

It certainly seems that it’s a win-win to make sure that you are keeping your vitamin D levels in a healthy range with the information becoming compelling that you can protect your brain function, raise your immune system, and build and maintain strong bones. Enjoy your time in the sun knowing that you are providing vital nutrients to the health and function of your brain, muscles, bones and teeth, and cognitive abilities!

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