The risk for vitamin D deficiency increases during winters due to the limited ultraviolet light available as the sun spends most of its time hidden behind clouds. Vitamin D is an active hormone that plays a central role in controlling immunity and inflammation and is responsible for calcium absorption and bone health. The problem is that most of us assume that by having a healthy diet, we are getting the best of every nutrient, whereas the best dietary sources aren’t loaded with vitamin D. However, the deficiency is caused by lack of moderate exposure to sunlight.
There are certain risk factors you should know about to determine whether or not you are in danger of vitamin D deficiency:
- Sunscreen blocks the skin’s production of vitamin D. If you use sunscreen regularly, your body won’t be able to produce sufficient quantities of the nutrient.
- People who have darker skin and are of African, African Caribbean, or South Asian descent have vitamin D deficiency as their bodies are not able to produce it in sufficient quantities because the pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to do so.
- Elderly people have thinner skin than younger people and are more at risk for vitamin D deficiency. They feel more pain in their bodies in winters.
- People who live at higher altitudes get little to no vitamin D from the sun because the sun is at too low an angle in the sky.
- Obese people are also at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.
- Women who are pregnant or are nursing their babies, and also female teens, are at risk of deficiency.
These are some risk factors you should keep in mind. In addition, you should know about the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include bone pain, muscle weakness, increased blood pressure, weight gain, headaches, bladder problems, restless sleep, poor concentration, constipation, fatigue, joint pain, muscle cramps, and depression.
You can minimize the risk for vitamin D deficiency this winter by following the recommended dietary intake of this nutrient, which is 600 International Units (IU) for people aged 1 to 70 years. It increases to 800 IU for adults older than 70 years. The safer upper limit was also raised to 4,000 IU.
So use the information provided here not only to determine whether or not you are at risk of being vitamin D deficient this winter but also to make up for the lack of vitamin D in your system.