SAN DIEGO, January 27, 2015 — Vitamin D is produced in the body primarily through exposure to sunlight. For Americans who live in the northern portion of the U.S., getting the right amount of sunlight can be challenging!
Vitamin D is necessary for the human body to metabolize important minerals such as phosphorous and calcium. Moreover, it plays a critical role in ensuring strong bones, healthy skin, proper cellular function and a strong immune system.
Vegans, those who avoid or have limited sun exposure, wear sunscreen regularly, have dark skin, are plagued by gastric or bowel distress, take steroidal medication, or are older adults are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency.
The Mayo Clinic suggests some symptoms which are indicative of a vitamin D deficiency:
- Muscular aches
- Personality changes
- Head sweating
- Weight loss
- Gastrointestinal difficulties
- Mental confusion or forgetfulness
For the most conclusive method of determining whether or not your vitamin D levels are normal, seek guidance and supervision from a qualified healthcare professional and undergo a simple blood test.
According to the National Institutes of Health, blood levels of 30 to 50 nmoL/L could pose some health risks, whereas levels under 30 nmoL/L could pose significant health risks.
Depending on what the vitamin D level test results show, a qualified healthcare provider might determine that supplementation is necessary, and will determine which dosage is appropriate.
A standard multivitamin supplement may not provide an adequate amount of vitamin D for good health and disease prevention.
Once vitamin D supplementation is prescribed, it will be necessary to undergo blood tests to ensure proper maintenance while determining whether any adjustments in dosage are necessary. Maintaining normal values of vitamin D is insurance against developing abnormally high levels, which can be damaging to many bodily functions.
Humans obtain most of their vitamin D from chemical reactions in the skin powered by sunlight provided by Mother Nature. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and most of those contain very little. So there are only two sure ways to get enough vitamin D: sun exposure and dietary supplements.
You can, however, improve the efficiency with which your body absorbs vitamin D and converts it into the forms it needs. The National Institutes of Health suggest consuming the following foods to increase vitamin D uptake, while also following a low-fat diet with sensible caloric intake:
-Fruits and vegetables
-Low-fat (or non-fat) milk and cheeses
-Lean meats and seafood sources
-Foods known to be fortified with vitamin D
Consume only gluten-free foods if you have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, and avoid shellfish if you suffer from shellfish allergies.
Optimal intake of vitamin D, whether from safe exposure to sunlight or proper food consumption with prescribed supplementation is absolutely necessary for the prevention of osteoporosis, gum disease, and possibly even many types of cancer. Low levels of vitamin D could also play a role in the development of asthma, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cognitive impairment.
The human body was designed to thrive in the great outdoors. It is imperative to keep this in mind when you try to offset the impacts and unintended consequences of industrialization, mass transit, and the availability of sunscreen!
Empowered with the knowledge that vitamin D truly is Mother Nature’s sunshine vitamin, and that it is necessary for proper metabolism and overall health and disease prevention, be proactive. Choose a holistic approach to maintaining normal levels of vitamin D in your body. This will promote a sense of well-being, positive health, and optimal vitality now and in the years to come.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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