Authored by K. Thor Jensen in Nutrition
Published on 07-05-2009
Modern nutritional science has advanced to startling levels in recent years – the knowledge of what we, as human beings, should be consuming on a daily basis can now be calculated to an astonishing degree. The spectrum of vitamins and minerals that we need to take in to ensure that our bodies function at optimum levels can be hard to remember, but thankfully we have a natural mechanism to communicate if those needs are not being met. One of the most common deficiencies that affects adults is a Vitamin D deficiency.
This vitamin, which is normally produced naturally in the human skin from exposure to ultraviolet radiation, is very important for many body functions. Primarily, it regulates the calcium / phosphorous balance in the bloodstream, ensuring that bones get the minerals they need to grow and stay strong. Additionally, Vitamin D also works with the immune system to restrict tumor growth and modulating the body’s natural immune response. A long-term deficiency in Vitamin D levels can have catastrophic effects on your overall health.
So how do you determine if you aren’t getting the recommended daily levels of Vitamin D? Unfortunately, immediate effects are not so noticeable. In children, there are a number of debilitating bone softening disorders, including osteomalacia and rickets. These diseases result in arms and legs being bowed as the bones aren’t able to stand up against the pressure applied on them by the muscles. In older individuals, this deficiency can manifest itself in osteoporosis, the fragile bone syndrome most often seen in women. In addition, there are a number of more generalized symptoms that are not always associated with the deficiency but should be taken into account as well.
The primary alternate symptom of Vitamin D deficiency is generalized musculoskeletal pain. This manifests itself as a throbbing deep within a limb, not prompted by any external stimuli. Other conditions associated with a lack of Vitamin D include a number of dental ailments, including periodontal disease – this is as a result of the body’s decreased ability to distribute calcium to the teeth. In addition, a number of cancers present additional risks to those with a Vitamin D deficiency, including colon and ovarian cancer. Because the vitamin plays a major role in immune system stimulus, a reduced intake can be considered responsible for a large number of other diseases. As with anything that compromises your immune response, a deficiency of Vitamin D is considered one of many contributing factors to overall decreased health.
So what should you do if you feel you have a Vitamin D deficiency? Well, the first thing to do, as with any serious medical condition, is to go see your doctor. There are a number of treatment programs that can be prescribed to you, including nutritional supplements and phototherapy (using a UV light to stimulate the production of D3 in your skin cells). In terms of diet, Vitamin D intake can be boosted by consuming a number of natural fats present in foods like eggs and fish.
Here’s hoping that this article has given you a deeper understanding of the causes and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency.