Our bodies need vitamin D for many health benefits but in the cold winter months it may be hard to get enough of this hormone that’s created when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
Without sufficient amounts of vitamin D, you could develop serious heart conditions and weakened bones. Children who have a vitamin D deficiency are at higher risk for developing rickets, a condition where their bones become soft and weak.
The Mayo Clinic recommends 400 international units or I.U.’s daily for children up to one year old, 600 I.U’s for those from one to 70 years of age and 800 I.U’s for folks over 70.
A 2010 study found that 41.6 percent of the U.S. adult population has a vitamin D deficiency Ask your doctor to check for optimum levels, which according to Healthline, should be between 20 to 30 nanograms per milliliter.
Your healthcare practitioner may suggest supplementation if your levels are low.
Here are some of the risks associated with vitamin D deficiency:
- Unusual fatigue. A 2015 study of nurses found a strong connection between fatigue and vitamin D deficiency. “There is mounting evidence that vitamin D deficiencies are associated with fatigue and sleep disorders,” says professor Catherine Jackson of California State University, Fresno.
- Weakened immune system. While we know that vitamin D is crucial to maintain optimum calcium levels, we now have research to back up the importance of adequate vitamin D to boost immune levels. For example, a study from the University of Finland reports that people with low levels are 2 ½ times more likely to develop pneumonia than people with high levels of vitamin D.
- Depression. Multiple studies have shown a link between vitamin D and depression, emphasizing how this hormone affects our mood.
- Cardiovascular disease. According to research presented at the American College of Cardiology, people with lower levels of vitamin D were more likely to have coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Weak bones. Because vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, if you aren’t getting enough, your bones could become weak putting you at increased risk of fractures. “Vitamin D, specifically D3, which increases calcium absorption, is critical to preventing bones from becoming thin and brittle,” says nutritionist Jennifer Giamo in a recent Reader’s Digest article.
- Multiple Sclerosis. The Mayo Clinic reports that people who have adequate vitamin D levels are at lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis. And for people who already have MS, vitamin D can lower the severity of their symptoms’.
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Older adults who have moderate to severe vitamin D deficiencies are at a greater risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease according to a 2014 study published in Neurology.
- Cancer. According to Science Daily, cancer patients who have higher levels of Vitamin D when they are diagnosed tend to have better survival rates and remain in remission longer than patients who are vitamin D deficient. “The results of this study suggest Vitamin D may influence the prognosis for people with breast cancer, colorectal cancer and lymphoma, in particular,” says Dr. Hui Wang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai.
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