How to Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency

Glass of Fresh Milk

Vitamin deficiencies are a very common cause of illness worldwide.  There are many different types of vitamin deficiencies, but there are seven that are the most common.   Iron, iodine, vitamin D, calcium,  B12, vitamin A, and magnesium are frequently the culprits.  Vitamin D is made from cholesterol in the skin, is fat soluble, and acts like a steroid hormone within the body.  It serves to turn genes on and off, and nearly every cell in the body has a receptor for it. 

Vitamin D, also known as cholecalciferol, is made in the skin when there is exposure to sunlight.  This makes geography a common factor in vitamin D exposure.  It is estimated that 42% of the general population of the US is vitamin D deficient.  This number is higher in the elderly (74%) due to less sunlight exposure.  It is higher in those with dark skin color (82%) because the higher amount of pigmentation makes the skin respond less to the sun exposure. 

Vitamin D deficiency is dangerous because the symptoms are very subtle and the deficiency may worsen without causing a noticeable problem for years or even decades.    In children the deficiency is known as Rickets, and causes the softening of bones and growth delays.  In adults, symptoms include muscle weakness, bone loss, and an increase in broken bones. 

An additional problem is that very few foods contain vitamin D.  Fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, and eggs are the principal food sources.  A 6 ounce portion of salmon delivers 150% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin D.  Cod liver oil is an excellent supplement.  However, most milk in the US is fortified with vitamin D to help supplement it in the general population.  This also seriously impacts the numbers of children who suffer from the deficiency.  This is doubly important because vitamin D levels directly effect how calcium is absorbed. 

Sun exposure is by far the best method of getting enough vitamin D. 




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