The Importance of Vitamin D

The Importance of Vitamin D

Obtaining the right amount of vitamins daily is extremely important for good health. Proper nutrition, adequate vitamin intake, and other factors such as drinking plenty of water and getting seven to eight hours of sleep nightly help ward off illnesses and keep our bodies working properly. Unfortunately, there is one vitamin that we often overlook BUT plays a crucial role in our bodies. VITAMIN D.

Vitamin D is a nutrient found in some foods that is needed to maintain strong bones. It is also important in many other ways as well. Vitamin D helps our muscles move by helping the nerves carry messages between the brain and every body part. Vitamin D also helps our immune system fight off bacteria and viruses.

Unfortunately, very few foods naturally have Vitamin D. Fortified foods provide most of the Vitamin D in American diets.

Foods that contain Vitamin D naturally include:

  • Fatty fishes such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • Beef liver, cheese, egg yolks

Foods that have been fortified include:

  • Many breakfast cereals
  • Milk, orange juice, margarines, and yogurts

The body also makes Vitamin D when the skin is directly exposed to the sun. This is how most people meet at least some of their Vitamin D needs. However, despite the importance of the sun in the Vitamin D process, it is important to limit the exposure of sunlight due to the risk of skin cancer. 10 minutes per day is usually sufficient time to activate Vitamin D production.

Persons at risk of low Vitamin D levels include:

  • Older adults since their skin doesn’t make Vitamin D efficiently when exposed to sun
  • People with dark skin because their skin has less ability to produce Vitamin D from the sun
  • People with GI disorders such as Crohn’s or Celiac Disease due to the lack of absorption
  • Obese people because body fat binds with Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiencies can cause several problems including osteomalacia. Osteomalacia is softening of the bones often due to a deficiency in Vitamin D. Osteomalacia often leads to osteoporosis, or brittle bones. Soft and brittle bones are easily injured or broken. Vitamin D deficiencies are also being studied for its possible connections to other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancers. Treatment of Vitamin D deficiencies include adhering to a diet high in Vitamin D and/or taking a supplement as recommended by your physician.

The best measurement of one’s Vitamin D is to test the blood levels. A non-fasting blood sample is required and involves a simple blood test at your physician’s office. Schedule your appointment today!

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