Many of us have vitamin D deficiency and don’t know it.

Many of us have vitamin D deficiency and don't know it.

Nearly half of us in the world suffer from vitamin D deficiency. And before you go running for the sun, that might not necessarily be the cure.

The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and even though we’re spending more time outdoors, doctors still say it’s not enough. More than 42% of Americans don’t get enough of the vitamins our skin produces from the sun, according to a 2011 medical study “Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency.”

About two-thirds of the United States does not even get enough sunlight in most months to provide the necessary amount of vitamin D. North of the 37th parallel, people only get enough sunlight for the skin to produce the amount of vitamin D needed during the summer. , according to research article, “It’s time for more vitamin D“. The 37 degree latitude line runs east from San Francisco through Tulsa and Nashville to Washington.

“Except during the summer months, the skin produces little or no vitamin D from the sun at latitudes above 37 degrees north,” said a study published by Harvard Health Publishing.

Research papers have described this problem, known as hypovitaminosis D, as “an ignored epidemic” and a “hypovitaminosis D pandemic.”

“Vitamin D deficiency is a very serious issue for me and my patients,” said FOX News medical contributor Dr. Janette Nesheiwat. “Vitamin D levels can affect a large part of our body, how we function and how we feel. It can affect our digestive system, our sleep, our mood, our energy or our levels of vitamins and minerals in our body.

A man standing outside with his eyes closed
Less than half of the United States does not get enough sunlight to provide the necessary amount of vitamin D.
Getty Images

Vitamin D allows our body to absorb calcium which our body needs for bone and muscle strength. More recent studies suggest a link between low vitamin levels and more than a dozen cancers, heart disease, periodontal disease, autoimmune diseases, chronic skin conditions, obesity, depression and disease. of Alzheimer’s. Severe deficiencies can lead to rickets in children (soft bones, bowed legs, stunted growth and bone pain) and osteoporosis (weakened bones) in adults. In contrast, adequate levels can protect our brains from toxic chemicals and reduce pain.

Dark-skinned people are more sensitive to lower than normal levels. According to researchers, up to 82% of blacks and 69% of Hispanics do not get enough vitamin D. An article in the Journal of Human Evolution stated that dark skin needs five to six times the amount of sunlight that a pale person needs for the same natural production of vitamins.

“Many Americans are deficient in vitamin D both due to lack of sunlight and a lack of adequate nutrition,” Nesheiwat said. “Some people are more prone to deficiencies than others, for example, people who work indoors, i.e. doctors who work 14-15 hour shifts, or people who don’t eat unhealthily.”

People with Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, those who have taken long-term medications for heartburn and reflux, are older (older skin is not as good at making vitamin D), have undergone gastric bypass surgery and/or are obese and have high rates of deficiency as well.

An article published by Harvard Medical School said that, under the right circumstances, humans need 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight every few days on their bodies, including arms and legs, without sunscreen to theoretically produce enough d.

More sunshine may not be the answer

Foods rich in vitamin D on a wooden table
Certain foods are an excellent source of vitamin D when the sun doesn’t cut it.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getting enough sunlight can be difficult depending on where you live, as well as dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as little as 15 minutes of bright sunlight can damage unprotected skin.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and approximately 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

“If you have a good, balanced diet, you should get enough vitamins and minerals and not need to take supplements,” Nesheiwat said.

In 1932, most producers fortified milk with vitamin D to prevent rickets. Orange juice and cereal makers have followed suit. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, cod liver oil, beef liver, pork/duck fat, eel, caviar and eggs are naturally rich sources of vitamin D, but may not be a regular staple in most diets in the United States.

Many doctors recommend supplements of 600 to 800 IU (international units) per day. Consult your doctor for the amount you need and the type of supplement recommended. Two studies in the Journal of the Medical Association found that very high doses of vitamin D in older women contributed to more falls and that more than 4,000 IU per day is potentially dangerous and toxic.

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