The "sunshine" vitamin is a hot topic. You may have recently found out that you are deficient or know someone who is. The truth is that a lot has changed, and vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is now a global public health problem affecting an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.
Vitamins are considered essential nutrients because either your body cannot make them or they are made in inadequate amounts to prevent negative health consequences or diseases.
Vitamin D was discovered to be essential when it was found to be needed for the treatment of rickets. There are two forms of vitamin D: Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferolcomes from fortified foods, plant foods, and supplements. Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferolvitamin d and brain health from fortified foods, animal foods fatty fish, cod liver oil, eggs, and liversupplements, and can be made internally when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet UV radiation from the sun.
Structurally, these two are not the same. Many believe that vitamin D should be classified as a hormone, with some calling it the forgotten neurosteroid.
The health consequences of being deficient go far beyond rickets and what occurs with any other vitamin. And unlike other vitamins, it can be made by your body when exposed to sun and the active form in your body, called vitamin d and brain health, has similarities to other hormones estrogen, cortisol, and testosterone. The real dangers of excess exposure to the sun and skin cancer have been greatly publicized and resulted in people covering up and using sunscreen when in the sun, vitamin d and brain health.
We have also had a shift in spending less time outdoors because of increased work hours and more sedentary lives. As a result, vitamin D levels began dropping without most health care professionals realizing it. Researchers have been focusing on the consequences of vitamin D deficiency and have found an alarming number of health issues outside of its role with rickets. These include skeletal diseases like osteoporosis, certain cancers vitamin d and brain health, cardiovascular diseaseautoimmune diseases, infections, inflammatory bowel diseasespsychological disorderscognitive disorders, obesityand or mortality.
Correcting vitamin D deficiency is not as simple as taking a pill or getting more sun, vitamin d and brain health. This article will teach you all that you need to know about the vitamin d and brain health of achieving and maintaining optimal vitamin D levels and how you can do it. Yes, deficiency of vitamin D can cause bone pain and muscle weakness.
However, mild vitamin D deficiency is not necessarily associated with any symptoms. Vitamin D has been referred to as the "sunlight vitamin" because it is made in our skin when we are exposed to sunlight. There are currently two sets of guidelines for vitamin D intake. The RDA is the average daily intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all These guidelines were set on a population model to prevent vitamin D deficiency based on bone health osteomalacia, rickets, bone mineral densityand calcium absorption for the general population.
The Endocrine Society put together a task force to review the research and came up with a set of guidelines based on a medical model for those at risk for a deficiency. The two recommendations are as follows:. These amounts vitamin d and brain health based on what is needed to maintain the blood levels that each guideline committee has established as ideal.
The higher the blood level that you need to maintain, the more vitamin D you will need to maintain that level. If your blood level is deficient, these are not the guidelines for you to follow. You will first need to get your levels up by taking vitamin D above these amounts and then you will follow these levels once you have reached your adequate level.
Your health care provider can provide recommendations for a safe way to do this. The first observation of this disease was in the mids by Whistler and Glissen, who reported that children living in industrialized cities in Great Britain had short stature and deformities of the skeleton, especially of the lower legs. Since then, many other health benefits of vitamin D and risks associated with deficiency have been reported.
These include the following:. A meta-analysis reported a 2. Vitamin d and brain health summit with the leading experts, including physicians and scientists, from across the world convened in to review the research in this area and to come up with clear guidelines for the medical and scientific communities.
A review of vitamin D levels in women, years of age, over 10 years found that adequate vitamin D levels may be protective against declines in cognitive flexibility and psychomotor speed components of executive function. The association between lack of sunlight and depressive disorders was first noted 2, years ago. There are numerous studies showing low levels of vitamin D are associated with major depression and the symptoms of depression.
Those with the lowest vitamin D levels reported the greatest degree of depressive symptoms, vitamin d and brain health. Only small-scale studies vitamin d and brain health shown success in improving these symptoms by correcting the deficiency, vitamin d and brain health. Much more research is needed in this area to find out how best to treat it.
Adequate vitamin D levels have also been linked with improvements in kidney function, erectile dysfunctionsleep apneadiabetic retinopathyand decreased manic episodes vitamin d and brain health bipolar patients. There is ongoing research to determine links with vitamin D deficiency and the increase in the prevalence of asthma and allergiesautismpreterm birth, gestational diabetesand preeclampsia. A deficiency in vitamin D can result from inadequate exposure to sunlight, inefficient production in the vitamin d and brain health, not enough vitamin D in your dietand health conditions that can affect it including, gastrointestinal disorders, renal diseases, and liver diseases.
Melanin is what gives skin its color. Light-skinned people have less melanin than those with darker skin. Dark-skinned individuals have natural sun protection and require at least three to five times longer exposures to make vitamin d and brain health same amount of vitamin D as a person with a white skin tone. Being overweight or obese may put you at risk for a vitamin D deficiency. While diet and decreased sun exposure may have some impact on this, there appears to be an increased need that cannot be met without a supplement.
One study tested the blood levels of vitamin D after sun exposure in both obese and non-obese subjects. Both groups had a similar capacity of the skin to produce the vitamin, vitamin d and brain health.
The difference was seen in the release of vitamin D from the skin into the circulation. You may look out your window and see the sun shining and think that you are safe from this deficiency, but that is not always the case. Even in sunny climates there is an increased prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. We have all heard about the dangers of skin cancer and the need for sunscreen to protect us from this disease.
This knowledge and the preventive actions we take have significantly decreased our vitamin D levels. On top of this, we tend to spend more time indoors. Even if you do have some exposure to the sun, the total amount of vitamin D you can produce is affected by the season, time of day, ozone amount, latitude, and number of clouds in the sky.
The important thing about using the sun for vitamin D production is to know that less is more. You are better off with short regular exposures to the sun rather than prolonged exposure for many reasons. The process is not as simple as the sun hitting your skin and vitamin D appearing in your blood. What actually happens is that vitamin D3 is first transformed by a process known as hydroxylation in the liver to hydroxyvitamin D3, often written as 25 OH D3and then again in the kidney to its active form, 1,dihydroxyvitamin D3, written as 1,25 OH 2D3.
The level that is checked in your blood is hydroxyvitamin D, often written as 25 OH D, vitamin d and brain health, which includes vitamin D2 and D3. By staying in the sun, you limit this process and can actually get less vitamin D. You also have a lower risk of burning and damaging your skin with short exposures. The National Cancer Council in Australia recently published a position paper on ways to minimize the risk of skin cancer while maintaining adequate vitamin D levels via exposure from the sun.
Currently, one-third of the vitamin d and brain health there is deficient. Extended and deliberate sun exposure without any form of protection when the UV index is 3 or above is not recommended for anyone. When the UV index is below 3, sun protection is not recommended, vitamin d and brain health, and it is recommended that people be outdoors in the middle of the day with some skin uncovered on most days of the week.
Being that the sun is the primary source of vitamin D, your exposure, or lack of it, will impact your risk for a deficiency, vitamin d and brain health. Ongoing monitoring is recommended for vitamin d and brain health elderly, people with disabilities, and hospitalized people as they have been shown to have a significantly higher risk. Research has begun to focus on who is deficient or insufficient in their vitamin D levels.
Finding a deficiency does not mean that vitamin D is the cause of any ongoing symptoms, vitamin d and brain health. It simply means that there is a possible relationship, and more studies need to be done to clarify the relationship between vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency and disease processes. It has been shown that as we age our body has a decreased ability to synthesize vitamin D from exposure to the sun.
A study done in Ethiopia found that schoolchildren between the ages of years were more likely to be overweight or obese when they were deficient in vitamin D. It also found that as body weight increased measured by BMI the level of vitamin D decreased. All it takes is a simple blood test to find out if you are deficient in vitamin D, but you need to have the correct test done and at the correct time of year, vitamin d and brain health. There are two blood tests for vitamin D.
One is for a compound called 1,25 OH 2D. This is one is not a good measure for your current vitamin D level. The preferred test is the hydroxyvitamin D, written as 25 OH D. This is the most accurate measure of your current vitamin D status as it reflects what you get from your diet, supplements, and the sun. It is also the one that the majority of the research studies measure.
As with the guidelines for how much to consume, there are also two sets of guidelines for what your blood level should be. These levels are for serum blood 25 OH D:. According to this, the IOM guidelines are too low and there is a plea calling on the public health authorities to change the recommendations for both the ideal blood level and the requirements needed to achieve this level.
Your 25 OH D level will change by seasons if you vary how much time you spend in the sun each season. Keep this in mind when scheduling your test. The amount of vitamin D that is needed to correct a deficiency will depend on the severity of the deficiency and your individual medical conditions. The time of year will also impact your needs. For example, if you are on the low end of adequate blood levels and heading in to the winter months you would need a bit more than if you were heading in to the summer months if you spend time out in the sun.
The goal for everyone is to get your stores to a safe level and prevent them from dropping with a maintenance plan. Vitamin D3 has been shown to be the best choice for supplements. Vitamin D2 supplements do not raise your levels the same tension headaches and allergies as D3 and, in some cases, they have been shown to decrease levels over long-term use.
Natural sources of vitamin D2 are scarce, and the majority of research has been done using D3 supplements. What you take is as important as how you take it.