For more reasons than one, you may not be getting enough Vitamin D to remain healthy. Oft-referred to as Vitamin D deficiency, this condition is generally prevalent in adults who enjoy limited outdoor activities, or wear sun protection at all times.  Those with increased skin pigmentation (think African Americans, residents of the Middle East, Africans, or Indians) are at a greater risk of showcasing the signs and symptoms of being Vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin D deficiency — yes, it is absolutely rampant today.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that 32 percent of adults and children across the US are suffering from this deficiency.  Also, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has detected that over 50 percent (1-5 years) and 70 percent (6-11 years) of the nation’s children are either insufficient or deficient in vitamin D. 

Common Signs of Vitamin Deficiency

You may be taking adequate sun exposure, but, if you have darker skin, are above 50, or feeling “blue” then you may be going short on Vitamin D.  The other symptoms of its deficiency include obesity, bone aches, gut problems, tell-tale head sweating woes, and so forth.  The only way to check for Vitamin D deficiency is via blood testing.

Do you Require Testing for Vitamin D Deficiency?

With vitamin D deficiency having widespread prevalence, testing is certainly justifiable.
This especially rings true if you fall in the higher risk category because of the following health concerns:

  • Family / personal history of cancer
  • Schizophrenia, migraines or epilepsy
  • Depression
  • Osteoarthritis
  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
  • Muscle weakness, poor balance, or musculoskeletal pain
  • Systemic inflammation, and so forth.

In case you choose not to go for a blood test, then ensure:

  • Vitamin D production via natural means
  • Regular oral intake of vitamin D3 supplements.

Right Timing for Vitamin D Testing

For proper diagnosis of Vitamin D deficiency, the test is best done:

  • After discontinuing the use of vitamin D supplements, for at least 3 days;
  • After 4 hours of fasting, at least;
  • Along with recommended tests for serum calcium levels, which indicate toxicity;
  • Anytime after leaving your skin unexposed to UVB light for a minimum of 6 weeks. Like in late summer or spring.

Vitamin D Recommendation Guidelines for Optimal Health

Of course, natural sun exposure is the best way of getting the optimal levels of Vitamin D for general health – somewhere to the tune of 50 and 70 ng/ml.  You need not take vitamin D supplements if you have been treating your skin (sans sun-screen) to 10-15 minutes of direct sunshine; at least thrice weekly.  Yes, then you have the essential levels of Vitamin D in place for absorbing calcium and strengthening your bones.

Cure for Vitamin D Deficiency

A concentration of 20 nanograms per milliliter of Vitamin D, or less, is considered inadequate.  Recently, the Institute of Medicine has escalated its Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) to 600 international units (IU) for  those in the age bracket of 1-70 years for optimizing their bone health.  Adults more than 70 years of age require up to 800 IU of the same for alleviating the concerns of vitamin D deficiency– through supplements and diet.  The safe upper limit has been increased to 4,000 IUs.  Overdose of Vitamin D taken through supplements may lead to the accumulation of excessive calcium, increased thirst, and, organ damages too.

Be careful !

Direct Sun Exposure—How much is Enough?

You time out under the sun would depend on:

  • The composition of your general diet
  • Antioxidant levels
  • Usage of sunscreen
  • Current tan level and/ or skin color
  • Climate ( those living in darker, more polluted or cloudy conditions do not necessarily require Vitamin D supplements)
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Surface reflection
  • Ozone layer
  • Elevation defined by the latitude and altitude of your location
  • Season
  • Time of the day, and so forth.

Vitamin D3 Supplements and Healthy Diet

You may like to get in touch with your doctor to know more about Vitamin D deficiency and ways of curing the same.  Oh yes, he/ she is the right person to determine whether you require these supplements, or not. In case you do, then along with a safe tanning bed or direct sun exposure, and a healthy diet plan, you may be prescribed effective Vitamin D supplements too.

The natural sources of Vitamin D (well, there are very few of these) like fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified milk / other low fat dairy products, mushrooms (Portabello), cod liver oil, tofu ( lite, firm), whole wheat/fortified cereals, caviar, pork (extra lean ham) , hard boiled eggs, and plain soy products are well recommended to control its deficiency.

You need Vitamin D Supplements!

Wondering how to get your daily dose of Vitamin D if those teeny weenie traces in natural food sources are just not enough?  Or, if your work conditions and location disadvantages fails to offer optimum direct sunlight?  Vitamin D3 supplements, available in the form of tablets and capsules come to the rescue. Different doctors and organizations would have different recommendations for these supplements and the amount to be taken each day.  While most users may go ahead and take the recommended dosage without any problems, those taking other prescribed medicines, or diagnosed for other health issues, have to secure advanced medical advice.

So, are you ready to take charge?  Go for the blood test and know whether you need Vitamin D supplements, or can do without them for some more time…

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