Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps the body process calcium and supports bone metabolism. Unfortunately, an estimated one billion people across the globe are believed to be deficient in the vitamin. Deficiencies have been linked to depression, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and certain cancers, as well as soft bones.
Certain populations are more prone to deficiencies, including people who are careful about their sun exposure, those with milk allergies, and anyone following a vegan diet. Vitamin D is produced when the skin is directly exposed to sunlight, but it can also be found naturally in select foods, such as egg yolks and some types of fish. Select dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D.
People with dark skin may also have lower vitamin D levels, as melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make the nutrient with sunlight exposure. Individuals with certain conditions, including Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, may also be deficient, as the digestive tract may not sufficiently absorb the nutrient. Moreover, as we age, our kidneys lose their ability to convert the vitamin into its active form, making seniors more prone to deficiencies.
Could You Have a Vitamin D Deficiency?
Because vitamin D deficiencies are linked to so many adverse health outcomes, including increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, and MS, as well as cognitive impairment in older adults and severe asthma and rickets in children, ensuring you have ample vitamin D levels is important to promoting overall wellness.
Fortunately, vitamin D levels can be assessed through a simple blood test. A concentration of fewer than 20 nanograms per millimeter (ng/mL) is considered inadequate and requiring supplementation, while less than 12 ng/mL is considered a deficiency.
While wearing sunscreen is important to minimize your skin cancer risk, it does inhibit vitamin D production. If you’re not getting enough vitamin D from the sun or your diet, talk to your healthcare provider about supplementation. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for the vitamin varies by age and one’s specific medical history so it is important for your healthcare provider to determine the adequate dose.
Many looking to discover what deficiencies and insufficiencies they may have may want to discover Stemedix’s new Precision Health Program. This program is designed to give a more scientific-based health blueprint with recommendations provided by a board-certified provider that can be shared with your current healthcare provider.