Why are More People Suffering from Vitamin D Deficiencies Each Year?

Woman and child in a park
Photo by Anna Om – yayimages.com

Considering the number of ailments that are being resolved with medical breakthroughs, it is surprising to see that the number of people suffering from vitamin D deficiency is rising each year. Moreover, it is a vitamin that is naturally produced in the body, so this aspect can be a little disconcerting. Whatever the reason, let’s take a look at what happens if you are not up to par with your daily vitamin D intake.

What is Vitamin D good For?

Vitamin D is a nutrient that is fat soluble, and runs a wide array of vital functions in the body including the following:

  • Maintaining Healthy Bone Density and Strength – Vitamin D can help with better absorption of phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium in the body. This helps improve bone strength and density, effectively keeping conditions such as osteoporosis, osteomalacia, or rickets at bay.
  • Supports the Immune System – You can also get a healthier immune system with the help of vitamin D. In children, it reduces the risk of developing influenza by at least 40% whereas adults are less likely to catch the flu. It also reduces the risk associated with cancer and other autoimmune diseases.
  • Improves the Nervous System – Healthy amounts of vitamin D in the body can also help keep your nervous system in good condition. It improves neuromuscular function and reduces muscle pain which in turn, end up reducing your risks of developing conditions such as fibromyalgia.
  • Keeps the Brain Healthy – Brain health and brain function are enhanced by vitamin D. It promotes healthy activity, which reduces depression and anxiety. It has also been linked with reducing the chances of someone developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia.
  • Supports Healthy Cardiovascular Function – Conditions like hypertension and high blood pressure can also be reduced or prevented with the help of vitamin D. Healthy heart health also means that you are not at risk from other cardiovascular conditions that could afflict you and are related to hypertension and high blood pressure.
  • Regulates Insulin – Conditions such as diabetes can be prevented with healthy levels of vitamin D in the body. Insulin production, as well as release and breakdown, are regulated and stay in check with a good amount of this nutrient in your body.

With so many tangible benefits and more, it is easy to see that vitamin D plays an essential role in maintaining good health.

A Little Sunshine Wouldn’t Hurt

Man by Sun representing vitamin D
Sr. Airman Michael Cossaboom pretends to eat the sun in Asheville N.C., April 18, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

Vitamin D, also known as the Sunshine Vitamin, is naturally produced when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Around 50% to 90% of vitamin D in the body is made through sun exposure.

While you can take supplements or make sure you are eating foods that have vitamin D in them, it is usually not enough and cannot even cover 50% of your body’s daily requirement. For this reason, spending time in the sun is a better option. A recent study has shown that the best time to allow your body to create vitamin D is early morning and between 11:00 and 1:00 under direct sunlight. Unfortunately, many people do not spend as much time in the sun as they should. 

Given the risks you face, it is troubling to see why there is such a major deficiency of Vitamin D on a global level. The main reason is that people no longer spend as much time in the sun as they previously used to. 

Three Reasons Why People Don’t Spend Time in the Sun

Unfortunately, despite all the data pointing to this factor, people are still avoiding time in the sun. The following are four major reasons why people don’t spend time indoors:

    • Spending More Time Indoors

We have slowly crafted our lives to spend them indoors. Whether one is at work, school university, or even shopping, your time in the sun is extremely limited. Even when someone is at home, our hobbies are such that we would much rather watch television or play video games than go outdoors.

    • Skin Cancer and Sun Exposure

Sun exposure has been linked with increasing the risk of developing skin cancer, which is why many people actively avoid sun exposure. While you only need to spend 15 to 30 minutes in strong sunlight to make vitamin D, many people are not keen on spending time in the sun. Even if they are outdoors, they will have sunscreen on, which inhibits UVB rays from being absorbed by the body.

    • Beauty Standards

Sun exposure has also been linked with skin damage and increases the appearance of fine lines which makes people more hesitant about going outdoors. Even when they do, they will make sure to keep the skin covered and apply sunscreen.

These reasons might appear small, but avoiding the sun at all costs can cause a vitamin D deficiency in a person. At a global level, it is estimated that more than a billion people have a deficiency when it comes to this vitamin.

Four Major Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

Another surprising factor is that the symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency can often be overlooked as some other ailment. The following are some major signs that can point to a deficiency in the body:

    • Weak Immune System

From the flu to pneumonia, influenza, and more, if you are constantly falling ill, you might have a vitamin D deficiency.

    • Fatigue

Chronic fatigue syndrome or unexplained tiredness, even when you aren’t overworked, can point to a vitamin D deficiency.

    • Pain in the Bones

Pain in your bones can occur when they are brittle or soft. Before the condition worsens, the pain can be the only major factor regarding it.

    • Depression and Moodiness

Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked with moodiness, depression, and anxiety. It is also the reason why many people often experience SAD – seasonal affective disorder during the winter.

If left unchecked, your vitamin D deficiency can cause serious complications to your health. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of the signs of a deficiency, be sure to get some tests done to determine this factor. Never self-diagnose to avoid any further complications. Contact your physician for a vitamin D checkup.

Foods Rich in Vitamin D

Wild salmon is one of the best sources of vitamin D, as well as light tuna. Mushrooms, milk, and orange juice are also great sources of this nutrient. And don’t forget about egg yolks. In addition, you may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Speak to your doctor for professional advice if you think you are vitamin D deficient.