Since Vitamin D is not readily available in many food sources other than fish and fortified foods like milk and cereal, we need exposure to the sun to synthesize the fat-soluble vitamin through our skin. How much time do we need in the sun every day? And how is it that I still have a low Vitamin D level despite my daily sun exposure?
People that may have higher risk of low Vitamin D levels include the elderly, hospitalized patients, patients with gastrointestinal disorders, kidney disease or those taking certain pharmaceutical drugs such as medications to treat seizure disorders. Decreased consumption in foods fortified with Vitamin D, decreased exposure to sunlight and patients who have had gastric bypass surgery are also more likely to have a Vitamin D deficiency.
Symptoms of low Vitamin D differ depending on the severity of the deficiency. Insufficient Vitamin D may present with vague symptoms such as fatigue or muscle aches. Lower levels of Vitamin D can cause bone softening and in severe cases fractures.
Vitamin D supplementation depends on the severity of the deficiency. Some patients may benefit from just 15 minutes of sun exposure daily and others may need over-the-counter supplements. Severe cases of the deficiency could require a prescription dose replacement. Calcium intake is also important to aid in the absorption of Vitamin D which is ingested through food or supplements.
Talk to your doctor today about getting tested for Vitamin D as well as which recommendations are best to keep you healthy!