Are you getting enough vitamin D? The answer is most likely no. Though studies are still underway to determine optimal blood levels, recommended daily amounts, and the full role it plays in the human body; there is growing data from studies of youth, young adults, and elderly persons that vitamin D is an unrecognized and prevalent health problem. It has been reported that vitamin D deficiency rates are 36% in otherwise healthy young adults and up to 57% in general medicine inpatients in the United States. Rates of inadequate vitamin D are even higher among dark-skinned individuals, those who are overweight or have low HDL (good) cholesterol, and during the winter.
Vitamin D is manufactured by the skin in the presence of sun exposure. Though no one is exactly sure why vitamin D deficiency has become so prevalent, many postulate that it is due to our vigilant use of sunscreen and spending too much time indoors. High rates of obesity likely contribute as well.
Current research indicates that the consequences of vitamin D deficiency go far beyond inadequate bone development and excessive bone loss that can result in fractures. Every tissue in the body, including the brain, heart, muscles and immune system, have receptors for vitamin D, indicating that the nutrient is needed for these tissues to function well.
Studies have found associations between low levels of vitamin D and increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and type I diabetes, the common cold and flu, some types of cancers, and low levels of testosterone.
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
General muscle pain and weakness
High blood pressure
Constipation or diarrhea
Since vitamin D is synthesized by the skin via exposure to sunlight, a brief period of sun exposure (approximately 5-30 minutes depending on skin tone between 10am and 3pm) at least twice weekly is helpful in increasing blood levels. Further, oral supplementation is also prudent. Although the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 200-400 international units per day, this doseage may not be effective depending on your individual blood level. At Downtown Doctor, we recommend having your vitamin D level checked to ensure proper supplementation in order to optimize your health and energy levels.