There is a bit of a good news/bad news story associated with vitamin D levels in our bodies. The bad news is that inadequate levels can contribute to a number of health issues. The good news is that these issues are easily prevented through the use of vitamin D supplements. Supplements can be especially helpful for patients whose lifestyles do not provide easy access to nature’s way of creating the vitamin for us, which is primarily from exposure to sunlight. Patients whose daily routines confine them to indoor activities or live in northern regions where sunlight is limited, especially in the winter months, can especially benefit from vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D contributes to healthy bones, especially when approaching the older years, by helping with the absorption of calcium. Calcium deficiency can lead to softening of the bones, a condition known as osteoporosis. Adding vitamin D supplements to the daily routine is an easy way to combat this problem. When taken at the same time as other medications or at mealtime, no added inconvenience is introduced into the individual’s lifestyle. Other lesser known problems for which a lack of vitamin D can put one at higher risk include diabetes, certain types of cancers and pain in the muscles and joints. Lack of vitamin D has also been known to be a factor in high blood pressure.
The government’s recommendations for a sufficient amount of vitamin D intake on a daily basis range from 200 international units (IU) to 600, depending on age. However, recent studies indicate that these levels are far below what our bodies actually need. Consequently, getting enough vitamin D from diet alone is unlikely. The best natural source of the vitamin is exposure to sunlight. This causes the skin to produce levels of the vitamin that exceed our needs. However, the use of sunscreen to prevent the effects of overexposure can also reduce the amount of vitamin D produced.
Vitamin D intake form natural sources can be difficult to measure. For example, the amount of sunlight to which one is exposed while outdoors can vary with conditions. Changing weather patterns, the amount of time spent in direct sunlight verses the shade and the amount of pollutants in the air can all impact the amount of sunlight that reaches the skin. Measuring the level of vitamin D intake from foods, while attainable, can be a bit tedious due to the research and calculations required.
On the other hand, vitamin D supplements offer individuals a way to ensure adequate and consistent minimum amounts of intake on a daily basis. The optimum daily quantity varies from individual to individual, but, when that number is determined, supplements are an easy and effective way to defend against health issues caused by vitamin D deficiency.