Not meaning to be an alarmist, but vitamin D deficiency is running rampant in the United States. It is quite staggering how many health issues have an underlying vitamin D deficiency element. But it is possible to gain the feeling of good health again, by correcting your deficiency and correcting the acid-base imbalance in your diet. What are the benefits of vitamin D? There are an estimated 1 billion people in the world with a vitamin D deficiency, whilst hidden in plain sight, this can have a significant impact on your health.
An interesting fact about vitamin D is that it’s not even a vitamin, it is a prohormone and your body will metabolize them to hormones called calcitriol (active vitamin D) and there is a receptor for it in every cell in your body. Once the vitamin D is broken down it travels through the bloodstream and to the liver circulating throughout the body.
It helps with many important functions, especially with bone growth and muscle health, using phosphorus and calcium supplied by the body. Bones require vitamin D to remain healthy to help take calcium from the blood to bones and muscle tissue and also keep the calcium levels in the blood in check. Calcitriol, is created in the kidneys and shipped to the intestine and bones. Organs if desperately needing calcitriol can make small amounts of it on their own.
What Vitamin D is Needed For?
Adrenal gland control
Aging prevention and longevity
Blood Sugar Control
Brain and nervous system development and function
Digestion and nutrient absorption
Hair follicle health
Heart and circulation health
Immune system health
Mood mind, memory and behavior
Muscle, nerve and athletic performance
Normal blood pressure
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
You don’t eat the foods that contain vitamin D. The foods that contain vitamin D are mostly animal based like fortified milk products, egg yolks, liver, fish and fish oils.
You have dark colored skin. Melanin reduces your skins ability to make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. So the darker your skin the less vitamin D you will make, even while sunbathing.
Not enough sunlight exposure. From not going outside enough to the clothes you wear, or even what part of the planet you live. The sun is at it’s strongest between the hours of 10.00am – 3.00pm, so if you work from home indoors or live in a polluted city it is highly likely you aren’t getting enough.
Vitamin D can not be absorbed in the digestive tract. Medical conditions like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and cystic fibrosis can limit the ability of the intestine to absorb the vitamin D (fat soluble vitamin) and also dietary fat.
Kidneys can’t convert vitamin D to its active form. The older you get, the more your kidneys slow down, reducing the ability to covert vitamin D to its active form. Kidney disease or damage can have the same effect, leading to deficiency.
Obesity. If your body mass index is over 30 or more, you are at serious risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Weight Loss Surgery – Stomach reduction surgery or surgeries that bypass parts of the digestive system can make it hard to get adequate amounts of vitamin D as well as other vitamins and minerals.
Medications – Some medications may cause vitamin D deficiency. Laxatives are one of them, flushing out vitamin D and other important nutrients. Steroids reduce calcium absorption and mess with vitamin D metabolism. Since Vitamin D is derived from cholesterol, cholesterol lowering drugs can cause reduce vitamin D synthesis.
Older adult – Although there may be enough vitamin D in the body, the kidneys can’t change it into its active form.
Symptoms and Diseases Related to Vitamin D
- Bladder problems
- High blood pressure – A number of studies are showing that vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of heart attack, congestive heart failure, stokes, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and high blood pressure.
- Restless Sleep
- Fatigue – Fatigue or chronic exhaustion is usually the first signs of vitamin D deficiency. If you struggle throughout the day with tiredness or fatigue, get your doctor to check you blood levels.
- Poor memory and concentration
- Uncontrolled weight gain
- Chronic Pain, Muscle pain, weakness and/or cramping – 71% of people in a scientific study who suffer from chronic pain had vitamin D deficiency. Nociceptors are vitamin D receptors found in some cells that sense pain. An animal study showed that vitamin D deficiency can increase pain and sensitivity. In a few human studies, it showed that vitamin D supplements can reduce chronic pain.
- Joint pain and/or swelling
- Bowel Problems
- Frequent Infections – Scientists have found a link between low vitamin D levels and respiratory tract infections like colds, influenza, pneumonia etc.
- Slow wound healing – Test tube studies reveal that vitamin D can increase the compounds in your body that are responsible for building new skin for wound healing. If it seems to be taking forever for wounds to heal, get your doctor to check your vitamin D levels.
- Depression – Not enough sun can lead to depression. Seasonal effective disorder exists.
- Bone disorders and Osteoporosis – As you age the breakdown rates of your bones start exceeding your bone building rates. So overtime your bone density declines.
- Diabetes – Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of blood levels found in your pancreas and also helps improve your bodies sensitivity to insulin
- Infections – Studies have shown there is a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and infection. Before antibiotics, a way to treat tuberculosis way to lay the patient in sunlight and to take cod liver daily.
- Autoimmune disorders – Sufferers of autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS), inflammatory bowel disease, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis usually have lower levels of vitamin D
- Types of Cancer – Vitamin D helps keep abnormal cells from multiplying in colon and breast tissues, which may be beneficial for helping treat breast and colon cancer.
- Pregnancy – Women with low vitamin D levels are more likely to get bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy. There also is a link between low levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of giving birth early and preeclampsia.
Food that Contains Vitamin D
Minerals and vitamins are often added to processed foods like dairy products and some types of grains. But in nature, it is most abundant in fatty fish like tuna, salmon or mackerel for example. Overall vitamin D is more likely to be found in animal products over other types of foods. Here are some more examples of food that contains vitamin D :
Measurements in International Units (IU)
Cod Liver Oil – 1360 (IU)
Cooked Trout 645 (IU) 85 grams or 3 ounces
Cooked Swordfish – 566 (IU) 85 grams
Cooked Salmon – 447 (IU) 85 grams
Mushrooms (raw, white, sliced and exposed to U.V light) – 366 (IU) – half a cup
Scrambled Egg – 44 (IU) in one large egg
Cooked Beef Liver – 42 (IU) 85 grams
Fruit and Vegetables – 0 (IU)
Grains and Cereals 0 (IU)
How Much Vitamin D do you Need?
Here is a general guideline for your recommended daily amounts (RDA) of vitamin D. A lot of it comes down to age due to your body being unable to producing and utilizing vitamin D as it gets older. This guideline will give you an idea if you are getting enough vitamin D. Your doctor however, may want to further increase your RDA if you have a deficiency.
Measurements in International Units/ Per Day (IU)
Infants(0 – 6 months) – 400 IU ( No more than 1000 IU )
Infants (6 -12 months) – 400 IU ( No more than 1500 IU )
Children (1 – 3 years) – 600 IU ( No more than 2500 IU )
Children (4 -8 years) – 600 IU ( No more than 3000 IU )
Over 9 years old – 600 IU ( No more than 4000 IU )
Over 70 years old – 800 IU ( No more than 4000 IU )
Pregnant/Lactating women (14 – 50 years) – 600 IU ( No more than 4000 IU )
The upper limits on your daily intake are due to vitamin D being fat-soluble, meaning that it can build up toxic levels in your body. It is not recommended, unless by your doctor to exceed the maximum dosage as it can lead to serious side-effects like ataxia, weakness and confusion, hypercalcemia, nausea, poor appetite, constipation, thirst and urination.
More than 94% of all people in the U.S do not get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D from food or drinks of 400 IU.
The study from 2016 showed that the average amount taken per day was only 204 IU in men and 168 IU in women from food and beverages and children ages 2 – 19 were getting 196 IU.