Things you should know about vitamin D deficiency:
- The vitamin works by helping your body control calcium and phosphate levels.
- You’re at risk for deficiency if you can’t get out in the sunshine, or live in areas with little sunshine.
- You could end up with a deficiency too if you have trouble digesting milk products, or you are a vegetarian.
- Some types of fatty fish — tuna, salmon and mackerel — are good sources for the vitamin.
- Infants can be at risk if they only get breast milk because it does not contain enough vitamin D.
- Milk sold in the United States is fortified with vitamin D.
- It doesn’t take much sun for you to get an ample dose of vitamin D — 10 to 15 minutes a day on three days of a week is enough.
- You won’t or can’t get out in the sun.
- You don’t eat foods that can boost your vitamin D levels, like fatty fish.
- You won’t or can’t drink milk that is fortified with the vitamin.
- You don’t get tested to see if you need vitamin D supplements.
- Osteoporosis, especially in women, which can lead to broken bones.
- Bone pain.
- More infections, because vitamin D is thought to increase your immunity.
- General fatigue, along with muscle pain.
In addition, vitamin D deficiency is linked to the disease rickets, which is uncommon in the United States, but which can show up in children between the ages of 6 and 24 months.
Bone pain and tenderness can be hallmarks of rickets, along with delayed formation of teeth in infants, holes in tooth enamel, and cavities.
In addition, researchers are trying to determine if there is a connection between vitamin D deficiency and diabetes, high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis.
The National Institutes of Health says it is too early to say whether vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of some cancers, but also reports there are some studies that suggest the vitamin could help protect against colon, breast and prostate cancers.
Can you get too much vitamin D?
Yes. Indeed you can, and the result is a condition called hypervitaminosis D.
That is a condition that can occur from over doing it on supplements, but not from sunshine.
Vitamin D is measured by International Units, which you will find on a supplement container as “IU.”
Infants should get no more than 1,500 IU, children from 1-8 years old should get no more than 4,000 units per day, and for everybody else, the upper limit is 4,000 per day.