We were all taught in school that vitamin D builds strong bones and teeth. While it definitely plays a role in building strong bones, researchers are finding that it also plays an integral role in the total health of the human body. People with a vitamin D deficiency are at an increased risk for a variety of conditions, including type-1 and type-2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer. A prolonged lack of vitamin D has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in older adults.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Diagnosing vitamin D deficiency can be difficult without a blood test. The symptoms can be subtle, and tend to be easily dismissed. The most common outward symptoms are bone pain, generally along the spine and rib cage, and muscle fatigue or muscle spasms. Vitamin D deficiency can also manifest itself in a disruption of sleep patterns, leading to bouts of insomnia, and loss of visual acuity. Understandably, these symptoms are commonly dismissed as typical aches and pains, or general irregularity. However, it is estimated that nearly 60% of Americans are suffering from some degree of deficiency, so it is important to follow up on these symptoms if they become more frequent.
The Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
There are number of major causes of vitamin D deficiency. Diet obviously plays a part, but personal habits are also a factor. The body needs sunlight to make vitamin D. Our modern lifestyles tend to prevent us from getting out into the sun, which deprives the body of the energy it needs to create and activate its store of vitamin D. The increased use of sunscreen also inhibits the body’s ability to make and utilize vitamin D. While many people are concerned with preventing skin cancer, the body does need a certain amount of pure exposure to sunlight to keep it healthy.
Some physical conditions can result in a vitamin D deficiency. The kidneys are required to convert vitamin D to its active form. As people age, or their kidney function becomes impaired, they are more likely to develop a vitamin D deficiency. Certain disorders affecting the digestive tract, such as Crohn’s Disease or Celiac Disease, can inhibit the intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the diet. Even body weight plays a part in the absorption of vitamin D, and people who are clinically obese are more prone to a deficiency.
Treatments for Vitamin D Deficiency
There are a few simple treatments for people suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Obviously, the first and best source is through a healthy diet. But as we have seen, with nearly 60% of Americans suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, diet is not the only answer. Regular exposure to natural sunlight is necessary to create active vitamin D in the bloodstream. Fifteen to thirty minutes a day, preferably in the morning before the sunlight becomes too intense, is recommended. For people who are housebound, or who live in the extreme northern latitudes, artificial sunlight can be substituted. It is also recommended that people suffering from a vitamin D deficiency take an oral supplement. Vitamin D can easily be found in health food stores around the country.
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining the total health of the body, and a deficiency can lead to many serious conditions and diseases. Fortunately, as common as this deficiency has become, it can be easily treated. If you think you may be suffering from deficiency, speak to your holistic physician an ask to be tested.
Vitamin D plays a large role in the total health of the body, and a deficiency can lead to a variety of disorders. Fortunately, correcting a vitamin D deficiency can be done naturally and with a few simple lifestyle change such as adding a few supplements to the diet and spending some time in God’s own sunshine.