Are You Vitamin D Deficient?
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, one billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D. Most adults are believed to be at least somewhat deficient, but people who live in northern regions of the world and don't experience year-round sun exposure, people with dark skin, and individuals who are overweight have an even greater chance of being deficient.
You may already know that vitamin D is critical for bone health, and getting adequate vitamin D is essential for preventing osteoporosis. But did you know that a deficiency of this vitamin can leave you feeling weak and exhausted? It can cause aches and pains. And it can increase your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, insomnia, psoriasis, and heart disease.
According to the Vitamin D Council, you may not be getting enough vitamin D if:
To determine whether you're deficient in vitamin D, ask your doctor for a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, also called the 25(OH)D test. Sensible exposure to sunlight is the best way to get the vitamin D you need, but vitamin D-rich foods and supplements will help increase your level. Salmon, halibut, carp, mackerel, sardines, eggs, and milk are good sources of vitamin D. When it comes to a supplement, look for vitamin D3, which is the type of vitamin D the body naturally produces in response to sun exposure.
- You don't get enough sunlight. The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the UVB rays from the sun. Most of us spend a lot of time indoors and use sunscreen to protect our skin when we're outside. But sunscreen blocks the body's ability to produce vitamin D. It's important to get some exposure to sunlight -- but not enough to burn -- to allow the body to produce vitamin D.
- You don't take a supplement. "It's nearly impossible for anyone to satisfy vitamin D needs through diet," says Michael F. Holick, MD, author of The Vitamin D Solution and professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at Boston University Medical Center. "It really requires a three-pronged attack: sun exposure, supplements, and food."
- Your body requires more vitamin D than usual. For example, if you're obese or pregnant, your body needs additional vitamin D.
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