Vitamin D is essential for the maintenance of the human body and prevention of certain diseases. Without proper levels in your diet, you could suffer from chronic pain, depression and fatigue. It also protects against heart disease and cancers, including breast and colon cancer. People of all ages can be affected, but some are more vulnerable than others.
About 75% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, according to several studies. A large part of the population is lacking because it’s impossible (without taking supplements) to get an adequate amount of Vitamin D from food alone.
The sources for natural Vitamin D are limited. The ultraviolet rays of the sun trigger its synthesis in your skin, but we often avoid the sun due to harmful effects like wrinkles and skin cancer. It becomes even more complicated when you consider how sunscreen blocks the UVB rays necessary for synthesizing Vitamin D.
Milk and other foods like cereal can be fortified with Vitamin D, but milk is often avoided due to lactose intolerance or by choice (i.e., vegan). Certain fish contain small amounts of Vitamin D but only if they are caught during certain seasons.
People suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency could be at increased risk for the following conditions:
•Chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia or arthritis
•Osteoporosis, broken bones due to weak bones and muscles leading to falls
•Cancer of different types e.g. breast cancer, lymphoma, prostate cancer
Another effect of Vitamin D deficiency is poor absorption of calcium and phosphorous causing low bone mineral density. You may feel bone pain and experience extreme fatigue. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk with your doctor. It could be your Vitamin D levels need more testing and attention. [This article is about diagnosing a Vitamin D deficiency, not other possible sources of fatigue or pain.]
To test for a Vitamin D deficiency, a blood sample can be taken to measure the concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood. The main function of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in humans is to help regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in the body.
There’s no one-size-fits all answer to how much Vitamin D you should take because the amount depends on your weight, height, skin tone and how much time you spend outside, among other factors. The only way to know for sure if your Vitamin D is low is by getting a blood test. Vitamin D blood tests are available for as little as $35 at some doctor’s offices. You can also request a lab test through a health care provider or pay out of pocket for one on your own.
Vitamin D supplements are cheap, easy to find in pharmacies, grocery stores, and online (and even some convenience stores!), but always consult your medical professional before taking any supplements.
We hope this article has helped answer any questions you may have had about the benefits of sufficient levels of Vitamin D in your diet and lifestyle as well as the warning signs of deficiency so you may have a happy and healthy life!