One should maintain a balanced diet that provides the body with the vitamins and nutrients that it needs to function effectively. One of these vitamins is Vitamin D, which plays a key role in our body's organ system maintenance, especially in the maintenance of normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorous. Many people, especially in the globe's high latitude areas, are deficient in this vitamin, and that's why it's important to understand the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency, its possible complications, how to prevent it, and other important and relevant information.
- Know its symptoms. Some symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are the following: vomiting, kidney stones, muscle weakness, bone pain and soft bones (also called osteomalacia). Manifestations of the latter are frequent bone fractures.
- Know the possible complications. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis in adults, and rickets, which is a childhood disease characterized by improper bone development.
Vitamin D deficiency may also be a factor to an increased risk for several chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, periodontal disease, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, cognitive impairment (including memory loss), type 1 diabetes and cancer.
- Know how to acquire Vitamin D.
- As more and more people are working indoors or are homebound, not getting enough sunshine is usually a major cause of the vitamin's deficiency. To prevent this, 10-15 minutes of sunshine three times a week is usually adequate. It is advisable to go outdoors during the earliest hours of the day, to avoid developing disease associated with too much sunlight exposure.
- In a diet, the following foods are the most abundant in vitamin D: salmon, sardines, shrimp, cod, eggs, and cow's milk/vitamin D fortified milk. It's good to know that vitamin D is a stable compound, and so cooking or long-term storage won't destroy it.
- Vitamin D fortified foods are now widely available, such as in milk, orange juice, cereals, breads and magazines. For example, fortified milk in the United States and Canada usually contains 2.5 micrograms of Vitamin D.4Vitamin D in the form of ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholcalfiferol (vitamin D3) is also available in dietary supplements. Consult your doctor regarding the dosage appropriate for you.
- Know the proper dosage. Vitamin D is measured in micrograms. People from 0 to 50 years must take in 5 micrograms everyday; males and females from 51 to 70 years need 10 micrograms, while those over 70 need 15 micrograms per day.
- Know who are most at risk. Everybody needs vitamin D, but some populations should exert more effort in acquiring it such as adults over 50, people suffering from obesity, people with dark skin (as their skin is less able to produce vitamin D from sunlight exposure), people with limited sun exposure, people with medical conditions such as pancreatic enzyme deficiency, and breastfed babies since breast milk has insufficient amounts of vitamin D (parents are advised to expose their babies to sunlight a few minutes in the early morning).
Being equipped with adequate knowledge would definitely strengthen your fight against vitamin D deficiency.