How much should you be exposed to the sun for vitamin D? Are the advices for how much vitamin D we need correct? What benefits does vitamin D have? The “sunshine” vitamin is a very hot topic and in this article we will discuss all these common questions. Two forms of vitamin D exist – vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) comes from plant foods, supplements, and fortified foods.
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) comes from animal foods (liver, fish, and eggs), fortified foods, and can be made internally when you skin is exposed to UV (ultraviolet) radiation from the sun. This vitamin is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it is stored in your fat cells for use when you need it. Vitamin D is constantly being used for bone remodeling and calcium metabolism.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
Symptoms of muscle weakness and bone pain may mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, in case of most people, the symptoms are subtle. Still, even without any symptoms, too little vitamin D may pose risks to your health. Low blood levels of the vitamin D are associated with severe asthma in children, cognitive impairment in older adults, and increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
According to a research, vitamin D might play an important role in the prevention and treatment of many different conditions, such as hypertension, type1 and type2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and glucose intolerance.
Causes of Vitamin D deficiency
There are a lot of reasons for the occurrence of vitamin D deficiency: Over time, people don’t consume the recommended levels of the vitamin. This will most likely happen to people who are strict vegans, because most of the natural sources are animal-based, including beef liver, cheese, fortified milk, egg yolks, fish and fish oils.
The deficiency of vitamin D can also happen because people are not enough exposure to sunlight. This can happen if you are homebound, cover your head for religious reasons, wear long robes, live in northern latitudes, or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure. The deficiency also happen if you have dark skin.
The pigment melanin reduces the ability of skin to make vitamin D in response to the exposure of sunlight. Several studies suggest that older people with darker skin have very high risk of vitamin D deficiency. Kidney are not able to convert vitamin D to its active form. As people become more older, their kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, and for that reason they risk vitamin D deficiency.
Your digestive tract cannot properly absorb vitamin D. Some medical problems, such as celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn’s disease, may affect your intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the food you eat. Fat cells extract vitamin D from the blood, altering its release into the circulation. People who have body mass index 30 or even higher usually have low blood levels of vitamin D.
Treatment for Vitamin D deficiency
The goal of vitamin D deficiency treatment is to get more vitamin D, either through supplements or diet. There is no consensus on vitamin D levels required for someone’s optimal health, because it differs depending on person’s age and health conditions.
If somebody has less than 20 nanograms per milliliter than its considered inadequate and the treatment is required. If you are careful to cover your skin or you don’t spend much time in the sun, than you should talk to your doctor about the supplement of vitamin D, especially if you have risk factors for deficiency of vitamin D.