Vitamin D is an incredible molecule.

For years, this vitamin has been associated with bone health and calcium absorption, however now, it’s found to serve many different functions throughout the body.

Vitamin D is made from cholesterol and therefore, its structure is similar to steroid family molecules such as testosterone an cortisol.

Most organs contain vitamin D receptors and therefore has a strong effect on many functions throughout the body. These functions range from fighting infections to bone protection, preventing artery disease and fighting cancer.

Along with being a powerhouse molecule for various organs of the body, as mentioned earlier, it’s widely known for its contribution to positive bone health and calcium balance.

It increases the absorption of calcium from food and puts it into your blood, it reduces the amount of calcium loss that happens when you urinate and it prevents bone breakdown.

Given all these far-reaching benefits, what happens when an individual has a vitamin D deficiency?

In this article, we’ll outline everything you need to know about vitamin D deficiency, including what it entails and what you should do to help solve the issue.


What Is A Vitamin D Deficiency?

When an individual doesn’t have enough vitamin D in their system, it’s usually due to a lack of sun exposure.

Other reasons may include liver and kidney diseases which prevent the body from activating vitamin D, however, these causes are less common.

If left untreated, deficiency of vitamin D may lead to weak or crumbly bones along with susceptibility to:


Depression

depressed woman
  • Memory loss or a “foggy brain”
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes
  • Influenza
  • Parkinson’s
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Colon, ovarian, breast, pancreas and prostate cancer
  • Peripheral artery disease and coronary artery disease
  • Premature aging due to the allowance of shortening chromosome telomeres

To Start: Vitamin D FAQs

Before delving into what you should do to solve your vitamin D deficiency, it’s beneficial to look at some of the frequently asked questions about vitamin D to understand how it works in our bodies.

By understanding the nature of this molecule, we’ll be able to better understand how to get more of it, and once we do, how to allow it to thrive in our bodies.


Where Does Vitamin D Come From?

vitamin D

Sunlight brings about a type of cholesterol in our skin which creates cholecalciferol, also known as vitamin D3.

This vitamin or molecule then goes through our kidneys and liver, experiencing chemical changes until it finally arrives at its active state of vitamin D.

Being outdoors when the sun is at its highest point in the sky during the summertime, sunlight reaching your arms, face, and hands or back twice a week for 20 minutes can bring amount sufficient amount of vitamin D.

However, keep in mind that spending over 20 minutes in the sun without using sunscreen can actually crack your skin and increase the visible aging process.

People in Florida or other sunny climates can also have a vitamin D deficiency as many people tend to actively avoid sun exposure for risk of getting burnt or developing skin cancer. On the other hand, people who live in areas along the northern latitudes have less fear of sun exposure, however, they also make less vitamin D in their skin.

Also, these days, many people tend to spend their days indoors which lowers the availability of vitamin D on our skin and therefore within our bodies.

This being said, vitamin D supplements should be taken by anyone who’s not living in the tropics or who spend the majority of their day in the sunshine.


How Much Vitamin D Do We Need?

Not too long ago, society believed we’re able to obtain a sufficient amount of vitamin D solely from sunlight.

This encouraged a low clinical recommendation of vitamin D intake for adults and children.

Now, however, we’ve come to realize that the sun has a limited power to create enough vitamin D levels. This may have to do with smog, pollution and our increasing fear of sun overexposure.

We’ve also learned about the many vital roles of vitamin D and our need to appreciate and respect this molecule more than we have before.

Given this new information, nutritionally-aware clinicians are now recommending 400 IU daily for children and infants and 1000-2000 IU daily for adults.

However, before you begin taking supplements, you should have your current vitamin D levels measured by a blood test and chat with your doctor or clinician about how much oral vitamin D you should take.


How To Get More Vitamin D

Before taking supplements, you should always choose a natural route first.

Not only will this method be cheaper, but it may also be safer since tampering with your body’s natural chemistry shouldn’t be an action taken lightly.

There are a few ways to get more vitamin D, many of which are a lot easier than you think.


The Mighty Source In The Sky

While praying won’t help you boost your vitamin D levels, you can always count on the sun.

This is probably the easiest way to get your daily dosage of vitamin D. While some doctors believe it won’t be enough, make sure you figure out the level of atmospheric pollution your specific area is dealing with.

If your area has a lot of smog, you may want to take extra time outdoors with the proper sunscreen.

Also, if you’re taking in some sunshine before 10 AM or after 2 PM, make sure you stay out a bit longer than 20 minutes as the UV rays will be less intense. While sunbathing, you should also make sure at least 40% of your skin is exposed.

If you’re not living in a sunny climate, however, you won’t be able to rely on the sun to supply sufficient vitamin D needs.

Keep this in mind when making your vitamin D deficiency remedy plan.


Plant And Animal Sources

trees in the forest

While no whole plant food includes enough usable vitamin D in its natural form, white button mushrooms and portabella mushrooms contain a significant amount of vitamin D2 due to their intense exposure to ultraviolet light.

In fact, each gram of mushroom that was exposed to UV rays included 3.8 mcg of this vitamin.

A 100 gram serving of these mushrooms will actually provide 1520 IU of vitamin D2 which is an impressive portion for anyone’s diet.

Other sites and nutritionists will encourage consumption of horsetail, kelp, parsley, sweet potatoes, nettles, and alfalfa to boost vitamin D, however, some doctors don’t believe this won’t actually generate vitamin D production in the human body.

If you want to find plant-based vitamin D2, check out your local health food store for vegan vitamin supplement s and non-dairy fortified milk.

If you’re comfortable eating meat, D3 can be found in cow and pig skin.


Vitamin D Can Also Be Found In The Following Food Sources:

  • Beef
  • Egg yolk
  • Cod liver oil
  • Fish and seafood
  • Fortified foods like yogurt, orange juice, cereals, goats milk, cow milk, and other plant-based milks
  • Supplements (which is vital if you’re not obtaining enough from food sources or the sun.)
  • However, no matter what source you choose your vitamin D from, due to its fat-soluble nature, disappears from our systems in roughly 25 days.
  • So, while there are many different food sources that contain vitamin D, it’s best to pair this diet with a significant amount of time in the sun as well.

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How To Solve Your Vitamin D Deficiency: Final Points

After all this information, if you think taking vitamin D supplements is the way to go for your vitamin D deficiency, make sure you choose a high-quality supplement and follow the dosage carefully. Also, make sure you discuss the supplement choice with your doctor before committing to anything long-term

Health Canada suggests all adults who are 50 years old and above should take a vitamin D oral supplement every day. These supplements should be 400 IU.

Lastly, if you’re not interested in taking supplements and have the desire to kick your deficiency in the butt naturally, don’t be scared of the sunlight.

Yes, sunbathing covered in oils or no sunscreen at all for hours at a time is dangerous, however at the end of the day, we’re adventurous creatures.

Make a point of spending more time outside in the sun, participating in an activity you love, or simply just to honor the sun.

Chances are, you’ll benefit in more ways than one.