The Importance of Vitamin D
We all know that good nutrition is essential to a healthy lifestyle, but a lack of Vitamin D in our bodies can be especially detrimental. In this post, we’ll examine what Vitamin D is; where it’s found naturally; how it’s absorbed into the body; and why it’s so important for optimal health. We’ll also share what to look for if you think you may have a Vitamin D deficiency; what the long-term effects of that can be; where to get more of this essential nutrient and how to get help for the deficiency from the Western Washington Medical Group team of professionals.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D—otherwise known as calciferol—is a fat-soluble, pro-hormone nutrient used by our bodies to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. It helps the gut absorb calcium and is also believed to help protect against type 1 diabetes, and other diseases.
Where is Vitamin D found naturally?
Herring, salmon, mackerel, catfish, bluefish, eel, sardines, tuna, cheddar cheese, chicken, eggs, mushrooms and beef liver all contain Vitamin D, but most importantly our bodies are able to produce Vitamin D from direct exposure to sunlight. We absorb Vitamin D into the body through a process of the sun’s ultraviolet B rays connecting with cholesterol in the skin cells, which provide the energy for vitamin D synthesis to take place.
Why is Vitamin D vital to the body?
Vitamin D is important because it regulates many cellular functions within the body. It has properties that are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which support our immune systems and help muscles function properly. In addition, brain cell activity is stimulated and bones are built and strengthened with the help of Vitamin D. The nutrient has also been proven to decrease the chances of getting the flu, regulating insulin management, supporting lung and cardiovascular health and promoting a balanced metabolism.
What are symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency?
The symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency can include, but are not limited to:
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
- Frequent colds or flus
- Weight gain
- Bone pain
- Back pain
- Wounds that don’t heal quickly
Long-term Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency
If left untreated, a Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a variety of ailments and conditions. Some of the most common are:
Those who lack Vitamin D are at a greater risk for loss of bone density and the possibility of developing this condition.
In children, a Vitamin D deficiency can cause this disease, which often leads to bow legs.
Women about to give birth are at a greater risk for certain complications such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and pre-term birth if they suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency.
Though still under review, many studies suggest a link between Vitamin D deficiencies and certain cancers, such as colon, breast and prostate.
Poor Cognitive Health
More studies are needed to confirm, but research indicates that a decline in brain function and overall clarity can be attributed to low Vitamin D levels.
There is an increased chance of multiple sclerosis, a disease of the brain and spinal cord, in those who are deficient in Vitamin D.
Where to Get More Vitamin D
If you’re unable to get enough sun exposure due to your geographical location, in addition to eating the foods where Vitamin D naturally occurs, you can also consume supplements and foods fortified with Vitamin D, such as yogurt, cereal, juice and milk.
Talk to a Medical Professional
If you’d like to the help of a medical professional to determine the best treatment plan for getting sufficient Vitamin D, contact WWMG Family Practice to schedule an appointment. For more general inquiries, use the form on this page.