Vitamin D is important for normal working of your body. Its deficiency can cause problems so it should be consumed in appropriate quantities either as part of food or through supplements. Read through this article if you have vitamin D deficiency and you want to know more about its symptoms and treatments.
A vitamin is a micronutrient essential for proper functioning of an organism’s metabolism. It is required generally in small quantities. Our body cannot make these nutrients at all or in enough quantities. Therefore, it must be obtained from external sources as part of diet or supplements.
There are different types of vitamins like A, B1, B2, B3, B12, C, D, E, K etc. These vitamins are divided into two groups based on their properties i.e. water-soluble and fat-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored easily in body’s fat which means they can be kept in body for longer and are readily available for usage. Some examples of fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K.
Water-soluble vitamins can easily be transported inside the body through the medium of water but cannot be stored inside the body. Therefore, the excess vitamins get expelled from the body with urine. These vitamins should be part of your regular diet so that there is no shortage. Examples of water-soluble vitamins are vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C etc.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that regulates many of your bodily systems. It is needed to maintain strong healthy bones. It helps absorb calcium inside your bones which is their building block.
Vitamin D not only helps keeping your bones strong but also other bodily systems. Muscles and nerves require vitamin D for their activities i.e. to move and to send messages to and from brain and body parts. It also strengthens your immune system fighting off foreign bodies, bacteria and viruses.
How Much Vitamin Do You Need?
You do not need vitamin D in large quantities. The daily requirement of vitamin D is a few micrograms ranging from 10 mcg for newborn to 20 msg for an elderly. It should be part of your everyday meal to avoid any shortages in your body.
Which Foods Provide Vitamin D?
There are a few foods in which vitamin D naturally exists which are listed below.
- Fish is a great source of vitamin D especially oily fish including salmon, tuna, sardines, herring and mackerel.
- Meat i.e. Beef and liver
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods like breakfast cereals, fat spreads, milk, orange juice.
Vitamin D and the Sun:
Vitamin D is also known as sunshine vitamin. It is because sunlight stimulate the production of vitamin D. When exposed to the sun, our skin makes vitamin D with cholesterol. The ultraviolet rays of the sun hitting the cholesterol give energy to produce vitamin D.
Your body can meet some requirements of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. It is also important to note that direct sunlight is the only way to stimulate vitamin D production. Sunlight coming in through a window does not produce the same result. Similarly, cloudy days and dark skin affects sunlight absorption.
It is important that you tread with caution as prolonged exposure can be risky of skin cancer. Try to cover your skin with sunscreen and clothing to avoid too much exposure.
If you are not able to get much sunlight exposure or if your vitamin D level is very low, you can take supplements. The recommendations about vitamin D intake assume that you do not get much vitamin D from other sources like the sun.
Why are Vitamin D Supplements Needed?
Vitamin D supplements are needed because very few natural foods contain vitamin D. Sunbathing is also not possible in all parts of the world especially in winter which limits production of vitamin D by the body.
This means everyone might not be able to get it through natural means which is why supplements are made available so that people can improve their vitamin D needs.
It is important that you see a doctor and ask his/her advice on the dosage, when to take these supplements and for how long.
Vitamin D not only helps in the working of bodily functions but also keeps you active and happy. In its absence, a deficiency may be caused, and the symptoms may include:
- Sickness or infection
- Feeling low
- Back pain or pain in joints
- Impaired wound healing
- Muscle pain
Conditions Caused by Vitamin D Deficiency:
If Vitamin D deficiency continues for long periods, it can cause further complications.
- Cardiovascular conditions like heart and blood pressure problems
- Autoimmune problems causing infections
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurological Diseases
- Pregnancy complications
- Certain cancers, especially breast, prostate, and colon.
What is the Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency?
If you experience different problems that arise because of vitamin D deficiency, they need to be solved by specialist medical professional based on that certain condition. Even though the underlying cause is deficiency of vitamin D, there are other treatments that a doctor would like to employ to make you feel better.
In case of improving deficiency of vitamin D, it is important that you track it and keep using certain ways approved by your doctor to replenish vitamin D in your body. The amount of vitamin D needed by your body depends on the deficiency your body is facing.
You should talk with your doctor and set up a plan for your supplements. It is important that you get you vitamin levels checked after two months to be sure that the supplements are effective. You can use the supplements on daily, weekly or monthly basis based on your preference and your doctor’s recommendation.
The time of the year when you are trying to improve you bodily vitamin levels also impact your needs and the quantity you should consume through supplements. For example, if it is winter time and your doctor has diagnosed vitamin D deficiency in you, you would need to take more than hat you might take in summer.
This is because there is limited exposure to the sun in winter than it is in summer. In summer, you would be able to get out in the sun for sunbathing or for a walk which can help a lot. The goal is to get your vitamin D level to a safe point so that it doesn’t crash in coming months of winter.
In terms of supplements, Vitamin D3 is considered to be the best choice for supplements. Vitamin D2 supplements do not raise your vitamin levels to the same point as D3 does. This is why doctors favour and recommend D3 supplements.
It is also important that you take your supplements with a mean containing fat. Since vitamin D is fat soluble, the fat in the food provides a medium for the vitamin to be absorbed and transported it. If you take the supplement empty stomach, it is less likely for the supplement to work better.
What Happens if I Take Too Much Vitamin D?
Taking supplements without the prescription of doctor can cause high dosage. Having used vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause calcium build up inside your body. This can adversely affect your kidneys, heart and bones as well.
There is a certain limit for individuals to consume vitamin D that ranges from 10 mcg (the lowest) for a newborn to 20 mcg (for an elderly). A normal young or middle-aged individual only need 15mcg daily. The supplements with 10 micrograms a day should be enough for you.
Taking extra dosage is not only harmful to normal people but its can also cause complications if you are pregnant. The symptoms of vitamin D high dosage are headache and nausea generally, but they can also cause, constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth and loss of appetite.
Heathy Diet Has No Alternative…
Having said that, the best solution for you is to get vitamin D from natural sources so that there is no danger of excessive use or any other problem. Make sure your diet is balanced, you use all components of food to get all kinds of vitamins, proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
In case of any deficiency, make sure to consult with your doctor before using any supplements.