Updated: Apr 11, 2021
Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin for our body, yet several doctors, including Dr. Zahid Naeem, report that over one billion people worldwide suffer from a deficiency of vitamin D. As he calls it, vitamin D deficiency is a “global health problem” and an “ignored epidemic” that the public should be warned about. In this article, we will discuss why you should ensure that you are getting adequate amounts of this necessary vitamin.
What is vitamin D and what role does it play in our body?
According to the Harvard Medical School, vitamin D was originally discovered in the early 20th century when doctors were searching for a cure for rickets, a painful bone disease that affects children. Extensive research revealed that our body cannot absorb calcium from our diet without the presence of vitamin D. Although rickets is now rare in the United States, the importance of obtaining enough Vitamin D cannot be reiterated enough. As research demonstrated the presence of vitamin D receptors in not just our intestines, but also the heart, blood vessels, muscles, and many more tissues, researchers concluded that vitamin D plays a significant role in developing obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, depression, osteoporosis, and brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Zahid Naeem notes that vitamin D deficiency has even been linked to many cancers, including breast, prostate, and colon cancers! Clearly, sufficient reserves of Vitamin D are absolutely essential for our body.
So how can we obtain Vitamin D and protect ourselves from these illnesses?
Although Vitamin D can be obtained through sun exposure, this must be balanced with the risk of developing skin cancer. Sizar et al. recommend that 20 minutes of daily sunshine with over 40% of the skin exposed should do the trick. Make sure you do not overdo it!
Another great way to obtain vitamin D is through over-the-counter supplements. The amount of vitamin D to take depends on your degree of deficiency and other factors, such as age and underlying illnesses. Thus, the best option is to discuss this with your primary care provider. However, Sizar et al. recommend that adults can consider taking Vitamin D3 6,000 IU daily over-the-counter and children 2,000 IU daily over-the-counter. “IU” is a unit of measurement of the amount of vitamin D that supplements contain. Pay attention to this value if you decide to buy these supplements without a recommendation from your doctor!
Khare, S., Goyal, A., Bansal, P., Khare, O., & Givler, A. (2021, January 03). Vitamin d deficiency. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532266/
Naeem, Z. (2010, January). Vitamin d deficiency- an ignored epidemic. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21475519
Vitamin d and your health: Breaking old rules, raising new hopes. (2007, February). Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/vitamin-d-and-your-health-breaking-old-rules-raising-new-hopes