What is Vitamin D Deficiency?

Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is also found in foods sources like egg yolks, fish liver oils, fortified grain products, fortified dairy products, and some fish. Vitamin D is important for healthy, strong bones, because it aids the body in utilizing calcium. It goes without saying that vitamin D is a crucial for maintaining optimum health, and that a vitamin D deficiency can cause numerous health issues.

When the level of vitamin D in your body is too low, your bones can become brittle or thin. Vitamin D deficiency is common in the United States, and has often been associated with rickets, a disease of improper bone tissue mineralization which leads to soft bones and skeletal deformities. More recently, research has shown that vitamin D in important in protecting against many other health conditions, as well. Some studies even show that Vitamin D also plays a role in both high blood pressure and immune function.

Many people do not get enough vitamin D in their diets, but sun exposure can help ensure that they meet the recommended amount. People who are obese, dark skinned and over 65 might have lower levels of vitamin D in their diets. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults is 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day. For those over 70, this increases to 800 IU a day.

If you are looking to maintain the recommend level of vitamin D in your diet, choose foods such as fish: salmon, herring, catfish, tuna, trout; mollusks, oysters; plain and soy milk. Fish oil is a great choice, too – it contains numerous essential nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and D. Remember that even though milk is a vitamin D fortified product, it still might not be enough to supply you with the recommended daily amount. There are actually few food sources that contain naturally occurring therapeutic levels of vitamin D. Interestingly, vitamin D is not actually a vitamin. It is a steroid hormone that people best obtain through sun exposure rather than diet.