The vitamin D is a wonderful vitamin, one that is crucial for your body, helping to absorb calcium and keep your bones. But its deficiency? However, that is not all it does: the muscles need it to move, the nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and other parts of the body, and the immune system needs it to fight harmful germs. No wonder, then, that a vitamin D deficiency can mean a problem for your health usually. Unfortunately, a large part of the population is deficient in this vital vitamin. And vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in many of the problems we face today, from rickets and osteomalacia to infections, cardiovascular problems and even cancer. But then, what exactly can you do to increase your vitamin D levels?
Get Some Sun Regularly:
Vitamin D is called the sun’s vitamin for a reason! Going out in the sun is a natural and easy way to increase your vitamin D levels. Your body uses the sun’s ultraviolet B rays to produce this vitamin. But remember that your skin needs direct sun exposure for this. Indirect exposure, for example, when sitting in a window, does not work because UVB rays cannot travel through the glass. The amount of vitamin D that you are able to produce also depends on other factors such as the color of your skin, the part of the world in which you live, as well as the time you are exposed to the sun. If you have pale skin, you can produce vitamin faster than people with darker skin. This is because melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its color, also protects it from the harmful effects of the sun by blocking UVB rays so that they do not enter the skin. Also, when the sun’s rays enter the atmosphere at an angle too inclined, the UVB rays are partially blocked and your skin cannot use them to produce vitamin D. Therefore, the closer you are to the equator and the closer you are noon.
Because there are so many factors at play here, it can be a bit complicated to decide how much sun exposure you need. Some experts suggest limiting sun exposure to half the time it takes for your skin to start burning. But as a general rule, try to spend 15 to 30 minutes between 10 am and 3 pm in the sun – without sunscreen. But it is also important to avoid overexposure and the resulting risk of skin cancer. Remember, you do not need to tan to produce vitamin D; Burning by the sun is definitely a no-no.
Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin D:
“Food is usually a good source for most of our nutritional needs”.
However, because very few foods contain vitamin D naturally, it is practically very difficult to meet your vitamin D requirements only through food. Even those with vitamin D have it in small amounts. That said, you can also reinforce the time you spend in the sun with some foods rich in vitamin D. Here are some foods that you can incorporate into your daily meals:
Fatty fish is a good source of vitamin D. Approximately 85 grams of cooked swordfish contain 566 IU of this nutrient, while the same amount of salmon contains 447 IU. Tuna has a slightly smaller amount of 154 IU per 85 grams. If you are looking for a comparatively rich source of vitamin D, take a look at cod liver oil – a tablespoon of it contains a whopping 1,360 IU.
Cow’s liver is another food that contains vitamin D, with 85 grams cooked, 42 IU are contained.
Eggs can also give you some vitamin D. A large egg contains approximately 41 IU of vitamin D. But keep in mind that the vitamin D in eggs comes from the yolk, so don’t eliminate it for an omelet that only contains clear of egg!
Fungi such as chanterelles and hives offer some vitamin D. Fungi that have been exposed to ultraviolet rays to increase their vitamin D content are also sold in stores.
Because there are few natural dietary sources of vitamin D, fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D content in a typical Western diet. Many milk producers fortify milk with 400 IU of this vitamin per container. Even the infant formula is required to be fortified by law. Other foods such as breakfast cereals, yogurt, orange juice and margarine may also be fortified. Check the label to see if the brand you use is fortified with vitamin D.
Take Supplements if you Have a Deficiency:
As we have just seen, you may not be able to get enough vitamin D only through food. Therefore, supplements are a good and often essential way to treat a deficiency of vitamin D. Vitamin D is available in 2 forms as supplements – ergocalciferol (D2) and cholecalciferol (D3). Both are effective in increasing vitamin D levels in the blood. But doctors prefer D3 because it is the type that your body naturally produces from sunlight. Follow the doctor’s instructions when it comes to taking supplements, as excessive amounts of vitamin D can also be harmful. Or infants, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends taking 400 IU of vitamin D supplements daily until they start consuming at least 1,000 ml of milk or infant formula fortified with vitamin D daily. This is because breast milk does not provide enough vitamin D to meet your baby’s needs. Also, since babies have delicate skin, not much sun exposure is recommended for them. Talk to your pediatrician about this.
You Need 400-800 IU of Vitamin D Per Day Depending on Age:
The recommended daily average amount of vitamin D is 400 IU from birth to 12 months, 800 IU for those who are 71 years of age or older, and 600 IU for everyone else. But some groups may have a particular risk of not getting enough vitamin D and develop a deficiency. These include:
- Older people, since their skin tends to lose efficiency in the production of vitamin D.
- Dark skinned people, as they may not be able to produce enough vitamin D from sunlight.
- People with disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, since their bodies cannot process fat normally and vitamin D requires fat for absorption.
- Obese people, since body fat can bind to vitamin D, which leads to low levels of this vitamin in the blood.
- Breastfed babies since breast milk is not a good source of this vitamin.
Do Not Supplement:
Excessive amounts of vitamin D can be harmful, so don’t overdo it when taking supplements. Excessive supplement can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, lack of appetite, weight loss, weakness, disorientation, confusion and problems with the heart rhythm. It can also damage your kidneys. The upper limit of vitamin D is 1,000 to 1,500 IU per day for babies, 2,500 to 3,000 IU per day for children between the ages of 1 to 8 years, and 4,000 IU per day for all others. You cannot get too much vitamin D from sun exposure because the body automatically restricts the amount of vitamin D it produces.