Are You at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D truly is the sunshine vitamin. The body produces vitamin D in response to the skin’s exposure to sunlight. So if you avoid the sun, consistently use sunscreen and/or live in northern climates and under cloudy skies, you’re at risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Other causes for a deficiency include the lack of vitamin D in the diet; kidney problems; Crohn’s and celiac disease which prevent digestive absorption of the nutrient; and obesity. Deficiency is common, especially in people 65 and older. A simple blood test can check your level.
Vitamin D helps regulate calcium and phosphorus in the body, and all three of these nutrients are important in bone, cardiovascular and mental health.
Foods that provide vitamin D include some fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks and fortified grain and dairy products. Just a few minutes of unprotected sun exposure to the face, arms and legs two to three times a week helps the skin produce vitamin D. Extra vitamin D is stored in fat cells and released as needed.
If you have a vitamin D deficiency, you may need to take a vitamin D supplement. Talk to your doctor first! Too much vitamin D can cause high levels of calcium in the blood, worsen or interfere with heart and kidney conditions, and interact with medicines such as Lanoxin, Cardizem, “water pills” and others prescribed for cardiovascular health.