What are the main vitamin D deficiency symptoms? Can a vitamin D deficiency really make you gain weight or feel generally bad, compared to someone who is getting plenty of vitamin D? Fro that matter, what is the recommended amount of Vitamin D you should take every day, and is that really the amount you should be taking for maximum results? With more evidence coming out seemingly every day about the hazards of vitamin D deficiency, and the powerful benefits of proper levels, this vitamin that many people get in primarily their daily glass of milk can no longer be ignored.
Okay, if you live in Arizona, Florida, or So. Cal, you probably don’t need to read this, because vitamin D is made in the body through sun exposure. On second thought, it’s probably a great idea for everyone. If you’re in Seattle, Glasgow, or Anchorage, you may want to read it twice. That’s because one of the body’s primary mechanisms for getting Vitamin D is through sunlight exposure. In fact, Russian kids living in the arctic used to go through UVB lamp treatments back in the ’60’s so that they could increase their Vitamin D levels. They had great tans, too!
What Does Vitamin D Do?
Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and to prevent hypocalcemic tetany. It’s also used for bone growth and bone repair by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. The goodness doesn’t stop there, however. “D” also plays a vital role in the modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and fighting inflammation.
One thing about Vitamin D is that your body has no use for it in it’s natural form. Whether it enters your body or is produced by it, it must go through 2 separate hydroxylations in the body for activation. These happen first in the liver, and next in the kidneys. After these processes, it’s ready to go do it’s stuff.
Who is Vitamin D Deficient?
The answer: nearly everyone! According to a published 2009 study performed at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and astounding 77% of Americans do not get enough of this important nutrient in their daily diets without supplementation. For some unfathomable reason, African-Americans fare much worse than average on this score. Nearly 97% of them fall into the “You need more vitamin D” category.
What symptoms Can You Expect if you’re Deficient in Vitamin D?
Good question, and the answer is broader than you might expect. One of the main symptoms of a general vitamin deficiency is poor overall mood. Although your mind probably doesn’t jump to Vitamin D when you think “mood enhancement”, recent research has uncovered that it is one of the vitamin’s main contributions. If your significant other is contemplating a new wing on the house, just to keep you at a safe distance, you might be vitamin D deficient.
Metabolic syndrome, that down-in-the-dumps feeling you get when it’s been a few weeks too long since you’ve seen any real sunlight, may be caused by more than simply a desire to see the good, ole’ Sol again. Some 2010 research, conducted as part of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, concluded that test subjects who received inadequate vitamin D exhibited all the classic symptoms of the disorder.
It Can Go Beyond Just Feeling a Bit Sub-Par
You’ll have bigger problems than just feeling a bit lackadaisical, if your levels aren’t brought up. Scientists are now discovering that low vitamin D can contribute to cardio-vascular disease, cancer, and cognition problems. Youngsters can also develop asthma due to low levels.
Now researchers are also tying low vitamin D levels to diabetes and glucose intolerance. Thankfully, some of them think that there may be some hope for treating diabetes with vitamin D therapies. The Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute (PDRI) is one of 4 research institutions around the world that are part of a research project to investigate environmental risk factors associated with Type 1 (Juvenile onset) diabetes. A part of the study is a randomized, controlled trial to test directly how vitamin D supplements influence diabetic tendencies in children.
An English study in 2008 revealed that ultra high vitamin D doses, in the range of 5,000IU, cut childrens’ risk of developing Type 1 diabetes by about 30%, hardly inconsequential. Note that that’s just a wee bit more than the average recommendation of 200 – 600 IU, depending on your age.
Thinking that some kind of treatment or cure for diabetes might come out of vitamin D research makes me pretty damn excited, since my young daughter has diabetes.
In kids, Rickets and osteomalacia are the classical vitamin D deficiency diseases. With rickets affected kids, vitamin D deficiency causes a disease which leads to a failure of bone tissue to properly mineralize. When this happens, it leaves the poor tykes’ bones a bit Al Dente, and causes skeletal deformations. Many people think that predominantly childhood diseases like this are the extent of low vitamin D levels, but unfortunately, as I laid out above, Low-D (sounds like a rapper from the Bronx) can cause serious problems in adults, too.
Can Vitamin D Help Me Lose Weight?
Ah, the real reason that I got into the whole vitamin D discussion in the first place; weight loss. Sorry to make you wait. Does it , or can it help on this score? It seems to help with so many other things, why not this, too. Actually, the link between weight loss and vitamin D levels may be even stronger than you would have probably imagined. A 2009 study on the subject showed that vitamin D levels were actually an extremely effective predictor of who would lose weight on a diet. No, it’s true!
The study, by Shalamar Sibley et al, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota showed that you can almost tell how much weight someone would lose on their diet by measuring their vitamin D levels at the beginning. He determined that there is a direct correlation between those levels and how many pounds you lose.
Blood vitamin D levels are measured in ng/mL. For every 1 of those higher the subject’s levels (measuring a precursor to vitamin D) were at the start of their diets, they lost another ½ a pound. Even better, the weight loss was of the right kind. The higher the vitamin D levels at the start of their diets, the higher percentage of the weight lost was belly fat!
What the UM study could not answer was whether or not the Vitamin D directly caused the weight loss.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need Each Day?
That depends on who you ask. According to the federal government, you need about . On the other hand, the Institute of Medicine now recommends vitamin D supplement levels as follows:
200 IU/d from birth to 50 years of age
400 IU/d for adults aged 51 to 70 years
600 IU/d for adults 71 years or older
Some health professionals recommend far higher levels to ensure you get the maximum benefits, however, as was noted in the above diabetes study. I found that levels around 5,000IU or even higher have been touted by various experts, in addition to those in the English study on small children. In fact, one study of chronic fatigue sufferers done back in 2000 actually used 50,000IU a day for 6 weeks, but you know what? The formerly wheelchair bound patients actually walked at the end of the 6weeks! Halleluiah, I can walk!
Seriously though, the scientific community is just beginning to uncover the power of this vitamin you probably get mostly from your milk.
What Foods Can I Eat to Get Vitamin D?
There are plenty of rich vitamin D sources out there: fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, and that old childhood favorite, beef liver. You may have noticed a distinct lack of plant based sources on that list. Your powers of observation have not failed you. If you’ve forsaken the goodness of animal carcass derived fare for some down home, grown at the local farm type of diet, you’ll probably want to grab some vitamin D supplementation on your next trip to Whole Foods.
If you’d like to enjoy the many benefits scientists are discovering that go with vitamin D supplementation, make sure you take the right kind. Remember, it has to be properly broken down before your body can use it. You need the D-3 variety. What’s D3? The D-3 form of vitamin D is the kind that your body makes form sunlight or animal derived, as opposed to D-2, which is the kind made from plants. Why does it matter?
D-2 is broken down by your body, and some of the resultant compounds are not altogether good for you. This is especially true at the dosages recommended by some of the leading vitamin D therapy proponents. Taking 10,000IU of the wrong kind could lead to trouble in a hurry. It is actually toxic in such high doses.
Here is a great Vitamin D-3 supplement from Vitamin Shoppe. You can waste the gas driving to one of their local stores, or pick it from their web site without going anywhere. Click on the link below to go there.