The Importance Of The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is an important nutrient for bone health, the immune system, cardiovascular health, and insulin regulation. Many people can get adequate intake of the vitamin through diet and exposure to sunlight. However, some groups of people are at risk of deficiency.

Center for Family Medicine Who Is At Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency

Signs of deficiency

Many people do not experience major symptoms of a deficiency. However, some common symptoms can include fatigue, achiness, getting sick often, muscle or back pain, and depression. Many of these symptoms are possible signs of a variety of health concerns, not just a vitamin D deficiency. People should always have vitamin D levels tested by a healthcare provider before starting supplementation. Often vitamin D deficiency is misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia.

Vegetarians and vegans

Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and fortified milk and cereals. Because the nutrient is found in such a limited supply of foods, people who follow a restrictive diet may be at risk for a vitamin D deficiency. This can include people following a vegetarian or vegan diet. A healthcare provider may recommend a supplement in these cases.

Spending time indoors

People who spend a lot of time indoors or who live in an area that does not get a lot of sunshine may also be at risk of deficiency. The body can produce vitamin D through exposure to the sun’s UVB rays. While the skin does not need to burn to get enough exposure to create vitamin D, this process only happens when bare skin is exposed to the sun. People who always wear sunscreen or don’t spend much time in the sunshine may be advised to take a supplement. Additionally, people who have darker skin have a harder time making vitamin D through sunlight exposure and may need supplementation.

Other health conditions

If a person has a health condition that interferes with regular digestion, this may make vitamin D absorption more difficult. Some of these conditions can include Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or cystic fibrosis. Additionally, people who have a body mass index of 30 or higher often have low levels of vitamin D.

Get vitamin levels tested

Deficiency in vitamin D can lead to fatigue, mood changes, bone loss, and overall lower quality of life. However, a deficiency can be hard to spot without the help of a physician. People should consult with a healthcare provider regarding vitamin levels to detect deficiencies and get recommendations for treatment.