42% of Americans have increased risk of health problems due to low vitamin D levels
If you want stronger bones and overall good health, getting enough vitamin D is essential. The essential nutrient is a fat-soluble vitamin, and it works like a steroid hormone within your body. While the D vitamin is produced by the skin when you’re in the sun, you can get some in your diet as well. One of the reasons this vitamin is so important is because it helps the body absorb and maintain the phosphate and calcium you need, both essential minerals for bone health.
Most people get their vitamin D primarily from exposure to sunlight and – to a much smaller extent – the foods they eat. In terms of the best food sources… they include wild salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, and egg yolks, to name a few. Conventionally speaking, we all should be getting 400-800 IU of this vitamin each day. Although, integrative healthcare providers will suggest much more – especially if deficient.
In reality, sadly, it’s estimated that 42% of individuals in the U.S. are grossly deficient. To know if you are deficient, ask your doctor for a “25(OH)D blood test.” By the way, according to the Vitamin D Council, an “ideal level” is around 50 ng/ml.
Health risks of vitamin D deficiency prove to be serious
Recent studies link a deficiency to several problems, such as depression, mood swings, and lack of energy. It’s been linked to more serious issues as well, which as chronic skin conditions.
One 13-year prospective study even confirmed that premature death due to serious illnesses like respiratory disease, cancers, and heart disease was associated with chronic low levels of vitamin D.
Other studies have linked low levels of D to high triglyceride and cholesterol levels, as well. However, supplementing with D proved helpful for reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels – which ultimately lowers the risk for conditions like heart disease.
Certain populations have a higher risk of low vitamin D levels
While it’s noted that approximately 42% of Americans have a deficiency, certain populations have a much higher risk of low vitamin D levels. This includes people over the age of 65, individuals with inadequate nutrition, premenopausal women, and Caucasians who avoid the sun.
In addition, populations who have darker skin, such as Latinos and African Americas also have a higher risk due to the high levels of melanin in their skin – which reduces the ability of the body to convert sunlight into vitamin D. Other conditions like obesity, liver disease, kidney disease, bariatric surgery, and celiac disease may all contribute, too.
The best way to get more vitamin D is to spend 20-30 minutes in direct sunlight without sunscreen. Of course, it should be mentioned that the angle of the sun does influence its effect. In other words, if you live in northern climates… you may need to supplement to correct deficiencies.
If you decide to take a supplement, be sure to take it as D3, which is its most bioavailable form. And, look for the co-factors that help you to absorb more… like, zinc, magnesium, and K2.
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