College of DuPage Nursing Student Cassie Mrazek researched for Healthy Lombard that you might be saying to yourself, “Why do I need vitamin D; does it even matter?” The simple answer is that good health depends on an adequate intake of Vitamin D. While many individuals do not realize it, there are more benefits to vitamin D than how it boosts the immune system. Although Vitamin D does enhance immune system function, it also regulates calcium and phosphate blood levels and is necessary for calcium absorption. Vitamin D is, therefore, necessary for bone strength, whereas inadequate levels may result in rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults (Vitamin D, 2020)
Each individual should know their Vitamin D level. Vitamin D deficiency can have a serious impact on health (Vitamin D, 2020). Adequate levels of vitamin D enhance immune system function, preventing susceptibility to infection. During cold and flu season, this is especially important, and even more so now during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Mercy Hospital (2017), approximately 42% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient. Some individuals, however, have a greater deficiency (42% Percent of Americans, 2017), for example, those with poor nutritional habits, premenopausal women, adults aged 65 and older, Caucasians with minimal sun exposure, and those who take medications for heartburn, acid reflux, and constipation (42% Percent of Americans, 2017). These groups amount to nearly 50% of adults in the U.S., a high percentage of the population for a preventable health problem.
In addition to inadequate immune system function, Vitamin D deficiency affects mood contributing to depression, a lack of energy, chronic skin conditions, as well as brittle or frail bones (42% Percent of Americans, 2017). Those who tend to consume inadequate Vitamin D include those with milk allergies, lactose intolerance, and who follow an ovo-vegetarian or vegan diet (Vitamin D, 2020). If these symptoms that are consistent with inadequate Vitamin D occur it is advisable to follow up with a healthcare provider to check the blood level of Vitamin D.
Our lives are busy; sometimes it can be difficult to get outside and soak up the sunshine, especially in these winter months, however, the best source of Vitamin D is the sun. If it is not possible to obtain between 10 and 30 minutes of sun exposure one to two days per week, obtaining Vitamins D in certain foods such as salmon, tuna, egg yolk, and cod liver oil, mushrooms, spinach, or soybeans are an option. There are also vitamin D supplements and cereals fortified with Vitamin D if these food choices are not preferable.
It is important to remember the many benefits of Vitamin D to health as well as the lack thereof. To ensure adequate Vitamin D levels, consider getting outside to enjoy exposure to the natural sunlight, weather permitting. This is not an option; many food sources provide adequate quantities of Vitamin D, so it is feasible to add it to the diet. To improve the health of the body tomorrow, increase Vitamin D intake today!
“42% Of Americans Are Vitamin D Deficient. Are You Among Them?” Mercy Medical Center, 21 Nov. 2018, www.cantonmercy.org/healthchat/42-percent-of-americans-are-vitamin-d-deficient/.
“Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind-healthprofessional/.