What does Vitamin D do? Causes of Vitamin D deficiency can be environmental and by that I mean not getting enough sun or enough vitamins from food sources. Vitamin D is involved in a couple of complex systems within the body. First of all it is manufactured in the skin when you are exposed to sunlight. A mere 10 minutes a day is sufficient to supply enough Vitamin D to the body.
The problem is that in the Northern Hemisphere, many people do not get 10 minutes of sun a day. This is mainly due to increased winter months and shorter days.
Other causes of Vitamin D deficiency occur when people cover their skin daily for religious or cultural reasons. For example, D deficiency is common in women who live in the east and wear clothing that covers their bodies and faces completely.
This is not one of the water soluble vitamins, and it does deposit in the fatty tissues of the body such as the liver. Therefore if you take a little more than necessary, it may cause Vitamin D side effects. Therefore do not take large doses unless directed by a physician as this can adversely affect calcium regulation in the body.
But back to the original question: what does Vitamin D do? It is needed to maintain healthy bones. It does this by maintaining the blood levels of calcium and phosphorus which in turn are utilized to maintain bones. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our diet, through the intestines, into the blood plasma.
Who Is At Risk?
As mentioned, those who do not get enough sunlight are at risk. This includes the following groups of people:
- Dark skin which blocks sunlight
- Women who wear clothing that covers the entire body
- Elderly who are house bound
- People who do not consume dairy products or vitamin supplements
Vitamin D Sources
When in foods, Vitamin D is found in dairy products such as eggs and milk in addition to fish and cod liver oil. Vitamin D is found in two forms D2 and D3. Current studies are ambivilent as to which one is better so most providers recommend either. Although the FDA says 200 iu (international units) per day are enough, most people do well on 400iu.
If you are truly deficient you may have to go on 50,000iu per week for several weeks and then 1000iu per day after that. What is deficiency? Levels less than 20 ng/ml. If less than 30 ng/ml then that is insufficiency.
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