Vitamin D deficiency is a widespread problem. Vitamin D is also called ‘The Sunshine Vitamin’ because the body actually produces the vitamin when it is exposed to the sun. It also occurs naturally in some foods. However, those who avoid the sun, those who follow a vegan diet, and those who do not drink milk are the top candidates for a vitamin D deficiency, but they are not the only ones.
Others that tend to suffer from this deficiency include:
- People with darker, more pigmented skin. Why? Because darker skin contains more melanin, which protects the skin from the sun’s damaging radiation. However, that same sun is what helps our bodies produce vitamin D, so darker-skinned people actually have to be in the sun longer than lighter-skinned people in order to produce the vitamin.
- Anyone who spends a lot of time indoors during the day. Anyone who work nights, works inside a building without getting out, and homebound people would fall into this category.
- Those who always wear sunscreen outdoors, or always wear protective clothing in the sun.
- People that live in the northern climates. These areas have fewer hours of sunlight.
- Older people with thin skin. They do not produce as much vitamin D as their younger counterparts.
- Infants who breastfeed, if they do not get a vitamin D supplement. Breast milk alone does not provide enough vitamin D.
- Pregnant women.
- Those who are obese.
Why Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is essential for building strong bones. It helps the body use calcium to fortify them. A vitamin D deficiency is often associate with rickets, which is a disease in which the bone tissue does not properly mineralize. This leads to soft, brittle bones which break easily, and skeletal deformities.
Vitamin D also helps the muscles move, the nerves carry messages from the brain and helps the body stave off bacteria and viruses, since it bolsters the immune system. Additionally, vitamin D combats osteoporosis.
What to Do About a Vitamin D Deficiency
For those who fall into any of the above categories, or anyone who simply knows that they are deficient in vitamin D, there are things that can be done to right this problem. Adding a supplement to the diet is one way to add vitamin D, but getting outside for at least ten minutes a day or adding the right foods to the diet can help, too.
For those who choose to head outside, try a walk in the early evening, or late morning (avoiding the heat of midday).
Where to Get Vitamin D
A supplement once a day is definitely a good idea for anyone who is need of vitamin D but for those who prefer not to take supplements, or for those who want a little extra insurance, try adding foods that are rich in vitamin D.
These include salmon, trout, sardines, and anchovies among others. Or, try foods fortified with vitamin D. Typically dairy products and orange juice will be labeled with this moniker. Beef liver, cheese and egg yolks also contain vitamin D.