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March 16, 2021
3 min. read

Vitamin D: Benefits, Deficiency and Guidance

Medly

Long, cold winters might mean staying warm - and staying indoors - for many of us. But depending on where you live, this might also mean you’re not getting enough of the “sunshine vitamin” - Vitamin D, which is produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Read our latest blog post to find out why it’s so important to get enough of this crucial vitamin.

patient provider

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3. Vitamin D is produced naturally by the body when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get this vitamin through certain foods and supplements. Depending on where you live, you may need to supplement with Vitamin D to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.

vitamin d pill

What are the benefits of Vitamin D?

Vitamin D serves a few important functions in the body:

Primary benefits

Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body, which helps to facilitate normal immune system function. This Vitamin is also an essential ingredient for normal growth and development of bones and teeth. If the body doesn’t get enough Vitamin D, you could develop bone abnormalities such as soft bones (osteomalacia) or fragile bones (osteoporosis).

Fights disease

The latest research indicates that Vitamin D plays a role in reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis, decreasing your chance of developing heart disease, and helps to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu.

Fights depression

According to recent research, Vitamin D may play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression.

Boosts Weight Loss

According to a recent study, people taking a daily calcium and Vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. Researchers concluded that the extra calcium and Vitamin D may have had an appetite-suppressing effect.

vitamin d deficiency

What are the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?

The symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency in adults include:

  • tiredness, aches and pains, and a general sense of not feeling well
  • severe bone or muscle pain or weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or a low chair, or cause you to walk with a waddling gait
  • stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips

What factors increase my risk of Vitamin D deficiency?

The following factors may affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of Vitamin D through the sun alone:

  • Being in an area with high pollution
  • Using sunscreen
  • Spending more time indoors
  • Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
  • Having darker skin, because the skin can’t absorb as much Vitamin D with higher levels of melanin
  • If any of these factors apply to you, it’s important to get some of your Vitamin D from sources besides sunlight.

How is Vitamin D deficiency diagnosed?

If you are concerned about your Vitamin D intake, your provider can perform a simple blood test to determine whether or not you have a deficiency. If you do, your doctor may order X-rays to check the strength of your bones.

How is Vitamin D deficiency treated?

If you’re diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency you will likely be told to take Vitamin D supplements, in addition to eating more foods that contain Vitamin D and getting a little bit of sunlight. If you have a severe deficiency, your provider may instead recommend high-dose vitamin D tablets or liquids. Work with your provider to find out if you need to take a vitamin supplement and how much to take if it is needed.

vitamin d treatment

What are some natural sources of Vitamin D?

Foods that contain Vitamin D include:

  • salmon
  • sardines
  • egg yolk
  • shrimp
  • milk
  • cereal
  • yogurt
  • orange juice

Resources

Healthline Cleveland Clinic

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