A person who does not expose his body to the sun, suffers from allergies to dairy products or follows a strict vegetarian diet, presents increased risks of developing vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D, also called the sun vitamin, is produced by the body in response to sunlight. This can be naturally gained by eating fish, fish liver oils, egg yolk, dairy and some cereal types.
Vitamin D is essential for bones to become resistant as it helps the body assimilate calcium from the diet. Traditionally, vitamin D has been associated with rickets, the disease in which bone tissue is poorly mineralized, resulting in soft bones and bone deformities.
Symptoms and risks of vitamin D deficiency
Bone pain and muscle weakness may indicate a lack of vitamin D. However, in many people, the symptoms are subtle. Low blood levels of vitamin D were associated with increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, congenital disorders in the elderly, severe bronchial asthma in children and cancer.
Research suggests that vitamin D may play an important role in preventing and treating various conditions, including type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis.
Causes of vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can occur for the following reasons:
– Insufficient vitamin D consumption over time. Generally, as a result of a strict vegetarian diet, as most natural sources of vitamin D are of animal origin, including fish and fish oils, egg yolk, cheese and beef liver.
– Limited exposure to sunlight. The body synthesizes vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight, and people living in northern countries wear broad clothing or have heads covered for religious reasons, do not expose their skin to sunlight.
– Dark skin. Skin pigment, melanin reduces its ability to produce vitamin D in response to sunlight. According to studies, adults with darker skin suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
– The kidneys cannot convert vitamin D into its active form. As people age, their kidneys are less and less able to cover vitamin D in its active form, thus increasing the risk of vitamin D deficiency.
– The digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D. Some medical problems, including Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease may affect the intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the foods a person consumes.
– Obesity. Vitamin D is extracted from fat cells, which influences its release into the bloodstream. People with a body mass index of 30 or more often have low levels of vitamin D in their blood.