You hear a lot about vitamin B-12 and iron deficiencies. They’re two of the most commonly seen in people across the board. But there’s one less commonly known, yet undiagnosed deficiency that very few people talk about, which, according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, affects almost 50% of the world's population.
Vitamin D insufficiency can affect anyone of any age and ethnicity. Those that are at higher risks of having it are older adults, people with digestive disorders and people with limited sun exposure.
It’s absorbed in two ways; one is through UVB light which is the most natural form of acquiring the vitamin. The other is through diet, with foods such as oil-rich fish.
This vitamin is called the “sunshine” vitamin for a reason. The quickest and easiest way to get your daily dose is to go into direct sunlight.
Sunscreen can deter and slow down the absorption process. People with darker skin tones have a harder time absorbing as well due to natural barriers.
Although deficiency does not necessarily have any symptoms and can go on as an asymptomatic syndrome, there are some notable signs that can manifest.
Because secondhand effects can create a problem with calcium and bone metabolism, osteopenia and osteoporosis can arise. General bone weakness and loss of bone density can result.
In children with low levels, skeletal deformities known as rickets can happen and they will have trouble walking. In older individuals, they may fall more often or get fractures more frequently.
Certain medications can cause higher risk as well; those on anticonvulsants being one amongst many.
Besides obviously treating the deficiency, taking in more vitamin D has extra added benefits.
It can help to fight cancers and cardiovascular diseases. It’s also shown to help with depression and certain cognitive impairments.
How can you increase your levels? Go out and enjoy the sun! Doing an activity in the sun for 20-30 minutes with no sunscreen or low-level sunscreen is the easiest way of getting your daily dose. Vitamin supplementation is another option for those who can’t get outside or live in a sunless environment.
For more information, visit ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.