Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is an essential nutrient and a hormone that helps the body retain calcium and phosphorus. A person gets Vitamin D from exposure to sun, food and supplements. The body produces vitamin D in response to sun exposure and is also absorbed from the food we eat. It is then converted by the liver and kidneys into calcitriol, an active hormone. Vitamin D is vital for strong bones since it helps the body use calcium from the diet. The lack of Vitamin D also causes skeletal deformities as bones become soft and brittle.
Signs of deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency may happen because of a lack in the diet and poor absorption. People on a strict vegetarian diet are at a greater risk of Vitamin D deficiency. There is less naturally occurring vitamin D in the food supply, particularly in plant-based foods. Here are some of the symptoms of its deficiency:
1. Weak bones and back pain: Inadequate Vitamin D levels can lead to bone pain, muscle weakness, falls, low bone mass, and fractures.
2. Low immunity: A low level of Vitamin D could lead to worsening autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, and inflammatory bowel disease.
3. Mood swings: Low Vitamin D levels are also linked with a higher risk for mood disorders and a faster cognitive decline.
4. Inflammation: The ongoing inflammation in your body can lead to diabetes, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and cancer. Vitamin D plays a key role in controlling inflammation in your body.
Vitamin D deficiency and sleep disorder
Our body recharges and repairs the cells while we are in sleep. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to problems of tiredness, feeling of drowsiness throughout the day, and several sleep issues, including poor sleep quality.
How to boost Vitamin D levels in your body?
1. Spend time in the sunlight: Spend around 10 to 15 minutes in the sun every other day. Exposure to sunlight allows the body to start producing Vitamin D from cholesterol automatically. In winter, you may want to spend more time under the sun, but you must remember that excessive exposure can harm your skin.
2. Eat more fish: If you are a non-vegetarian, try including fish and fish products in your diet. Fatty fish have a high amount of Vitamin D. Fish such as mackerel, herring and salmon are some of the best options. By adding more fish into your diet, you will also get an extra dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Mushrooms: For those who are vegetarian, some wild and cultivated mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D2 because of their exposure to UV light.
4. Vitamin D-fortified foods: For vegetarians, there are some other food products that are fortified with this nutrient. For example, you can consume soy milk, orange juice, cow’s milk, and oatmeal fortified with Vitamin D.
5. Egg yolks: Even consuming egg yolks is an easy way to get Vitamin D. While the yolk is full of fat, vitamins and minerals, the egg white contains most protein. The pasture-raised or free-range chickens have up to 4 times more vitamin D since it raises the sun exposure for chicken.
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common and the symptoms are often subtle. To know if you lack this vitamin, go for a blood test at your nearest pathology laboratory.