Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin. the most effective way to get it is to expose your body to appropriate levels of sunshine throughout the year. However, most of us live in areas where this is not possible. Additionally, people are afraid of getting melanoma, or skin cancer, from the sun. Many of us end up taking supplements, but they are not the best source.
Vitamin D is crucial in a wide variety of health issues. It helps calcium absorption, so it helps create healthy bones. The most recent research is shedding light on the fact that vitamin D plays a bigger role than originally thought in many different health conditions such as high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and glucose intolerance.
If you are deficient in vitamin D, your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease goes up by a lot. Your risk of getting cancer also increases. Many children who have asthma, are also low in vitamin D. Last btu not least, older adults show greater cognitive damage when they have low levels of vitamin D. As you can see, the damages are widespread, but not everyone is able to connect the dots and link these issues to vitamin D.
Here are some lifestyle factors that put you at high risk of a vitamin D deficiency. If you have any of these factors, you may want to get a test to be sure you are not already deficient.
If you are a vegan, you may want to be careful about your vitamin D levels. If you get plenty of sunshine year round, this will not be an issue. But this isn’t possible for many of us. Many processed and animal foods are supplemented with vitamin D. Healthy eating vegans may not eat much processed foods, and of course they do not eat animal foods. So be careful if this sounds like you.
You do not get enough sunlight
Your body makes vitamin D. If you stay indoors most of the day, or if you usually cover most of your body with clothing, you may be at high risk for vitamin D deficiency. If you live in the north, you may be at high risk as well, as sunlight does not reach the appropriate levels there most of the year.
Your body uses fat cells to extracts vitamin D from your blood. This puts the vitamin into circulation. If you are obsese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, you are at risk to have low levels of vitamin D.
As we age, our kidneys are less efficient. Unfortunately, kidneys are responsible for converting vitamin D from its inactive form to its active form. So as you get older, your risk of developing vitamin D deficiency goes up.
If you are dark skinned or very tan, you will have to stay out in the sun longer in order to absorb as much sunlight as needed to make vitamin D, compared to light skinned people. The presence of high levels of melanin – a dark pigment – in your skin reduces your body’s ability to make vitamin D.
You have digestive issues
There are some chronic conditions such as celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and cystic fibrosis that can prevent your intestine from absorbing vitamin D from your food.