So many suffer from low blood levels of Vitamin D and do not know it!

Vitamin D deficiency most likely occurs in people who live in more northern parts of the country.

The reason for this is low exposure to the sun – the use of sunscreens can block the ultraviolet rays of the sun that play a significant role in helping the body manufacture vitamin D.

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Vitamin D is a very important nutrient because it stimulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.

They both function to mineralise bones and causes the kidneys to retain calcium and return it to the bloodstream when needed – this is critical to our health.

D is different

Vitamin D is different from other vitamins because our bodies can synthesize it when we are in the sun.  Ultraviolet rays activate the precursor of vitamin D under the skin, which is then converted into the active form by the kidneys and liver.

People with liver or kidney dysfunction may exhibit signs of vitamin D deficiency.

The benefits of Vitamin D include:

– strengthening of bones

– helping to raise blood concentrations of calcium by stimulating its release from bones.

Calcium levels

Ninety-nine percent of calcium is held in the bones and the remaining 1 % is in the blood, therefore it is crucial that blood concentration remains level at all times.

Calcium supports many functions in the body, including muscle contraction and keeping cells functioning properly, which is why low vitamin D can cause muscle weakness and pain.

Having the correct amount of calcium in the bones helps to prevent diseases such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults (which cause soft bone to form and not be mineralised, in turn leading to bones that cannot hold body weight) as well as osteoporosis later in life.

Milk is fortified with vitamin D

Two cups per day is sufficient to supply the body with the vitamin D needed to keep the bones strong. There are only a small number of foods that naturally contain vitamin D.

These group as: fatty fish, eggs and butter and milk fortified with vitamin D.

D Benefits_2If you don’t spend much time in the sun or drink milk regularly, then a vitamin D supplement is a good idea.

As you age, your ability to make vitamin D diminishes, so blood levels can become low.

Doctors will likely recommend that people in this stages take a supplement.  If you are taking medications you should consult your doctor before taking a supplement because vitamin D can react with certain medications.

Vitamin D and Heart Disease

According to research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, those with the lowest vitamin D levels have more than double the risk of dying from heart disease and other causes compared with those with the highest vitamin D levels.

The researchers cite “decreased outdoor activity” as one reason that people may become deficient in vitamin D.

Another recent study found an increased risk of heart attacks in those with low vitamin D levels.

Fair-skinned people need less time to manufacture vitamin D in the sun than darker skinned people, i.e. 15 minutes a day a couple of times per week.

Those with darker skin require more time in the sun to make a sufficient amount of vitamin D.

Vitamin D benefits us in ways that are crucial for the health of our body’s cells, bones and muscles and decreasing the risk of osteomalacia, rickets, osteoporosis as well as heart disease.

Next time you plan to have a physical exam ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels so you can both decide if a supplement is right for you.

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