Did you know that vitamin D deficiency is actually a very common problem among American adults – and women in particular? Even if you spend time outdoors and regularly drink milk and other foods containing vitamin D, you could be deficient.
Read on to learn more.
Vitamin D Insufficiency in Women
Despite the name the healthcare community has given it, vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that’s supposed to come primarily through sun exposure. For decades, very few doctors considered that vitamin D insufficiency could be such a widespread problem. Then Dr. Michael Holick conducted a few studies and found some alarming results.
Holick and his team at the CDC found that 32 percent of children and adults in the US are vitamin D deficient. That number was developed very conservatively, though, and it’s believed that the percentage is far higher – possibly north of 50 percent.
There are many causes of vitamin D insufficiency, but one of the primary culprits is limited exposure to sunlight. The body requires sunlight to make vitamin D and women who spend a lot of time indoors may struggle to get enough.
It’s also possible for a poor diet to cause a deficiency. This is especially likely in women who follow vegan diets, which contain very little, if any, vitamin D. Finally, African Americans and people with dark skin will always face a much greater risk, because 10-times more sun exposure is needed to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a person with pale skin.
The reason vitamin D deficiencies go undetected for so long is that the symptoms are fairly generic and can often be brushed off for years. Common signs that you have a deficiency could include excessive sweating, osteoporosis symptoms, chronic pain, depression, and gastrointestinal problems.
Aside from being annoying and unhealthy, having a vitamin D insufficiency could lead to more serious health issues down the road. For example, doctors have discovered that a moderate to severe deficiency in older adults doubles the risk for some forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Research has also shown a correlation between a lack of vitamin D and an increased risk of schizophrenia and heart disease.
Proven Suggestions for Overcoming a Deficiency
The good news for the millions of women suffering from a lack of vitamin D is that there are proven ways to overcome a deficiency and reclaim health. In fact, everything will be fine if you follow a simple three-pronged approach.
- Get More Sun
A lot of women look to their diet or take supplements, but it all starts with sun exposure. While, for years, doctors have discussed the dangers of sun exposure, the fact of the matter is that you do need some. Just 20-30 minutes of direct exposure (no heavy sunscreen) every day is more than enough to get you back to normal.
- Enhance Your Diet
If you browse the aisles of your local health store, you’ll find that there are plenty of foods that have been artificially enhanced or fortified with vitamin D. While these are typically fine, they aren’t the best for you. If you’re going to consume vitamin D through diet, you should try to eat foods that naturally contain it. Some of the best options include shitake and button mushrooms, mackerel, sockeye salmon, herring, sardines, catfish, tuna, cod liver oil, and eggs.
- Take a Supplement
If you can’t get enough sun exposure or consume enough vitamin D in your diet, then you can always increase your chances of overcoming your deficiency by taking an over the counter supplement. In fact, some people need to take a D3 supplement anyway, as it helps prevent future deficiencies. You can speak with your doctor to learn more about how much you should be taking on a daily basis.
Orion College: Enroll Today
Does the idea of health and wellness fascinate you? If so, you may be perfectly suited for a career in healthcare. At Orion College, we offer convenient degree programs that offer online, campus-based, and blended classroom teaching. If you’d like to learn more, please feel free to give us a call and we’ll get you the information you need to make an educated decision!