5 Surprising Factors That May Cause Vitamin D Deficiency in the Body
Vitamin D deficiency in the body is a common problem among many individuals, and it can have serious health implications if left unchecked. It is important to understand what causes vitamin D deficiency in the body so that appropriate measures can be taken to avoid or treat it. In this blog post, we’ll discuss five surprising factors that may contribute to vitamin D deficiency in the body.
Living in Northern Regions
If you live in regions with low sunlight, then you are more likely to experience Vitamin D deficiency. This is because your body needs sunlight to produce Vitamin D. In northern regions, the angle of the sun changes in such a way that it reduces the amount of UVB radiation that reaches the skin, which leads to less Vitamin D production.
People who live in northern regions may experience long periods of darkness during the winter months. In fact, some northern areas receive less than six hours of sunlight per day during the winter. This can lead to Vitamin D deficiency, especially in individuals who do not consume enough Vitamin D through their diet.
If you live in a northern region, it is important to get enough Vitamin D through your diet. You may need to consume more Vitamin D-fortified foods such as milk and dairy products, or consider taking Vitamin D supplements.
Another option is to get a light therapy box that emits UVB radiation to stimulate Vitamin D production in the skin. Consult with your doctor to determine the best approach to get your recommended daily intake of Vitamin D.
Using Sunscreen and Covering Up
While it is important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, using sunscreen and covering up too much can actually lead to vitamin D deficiency. Sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher can reduce vitamin D synthesis in the skin by more than 95%. Wearing long-sleeved clothes or staying in the shade can also limit the amount of sunlight exposure and subsequently vitamin D production in the body.
However, this does not mean that you should skip sunscreen altogether. It is still crucial to protect your skin from sunburn, skin damage, and skin cancer. Experts suggest spending about 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen in the morning or late afternoon to help your skin synthesize vitamin D. Afterward, apply sunscreen with a lower SPF or use clothing that blocks UV rays.
In addition to sunscreen and clothing, certain cultural practices, such as wearing hijabs or headscarves, can also contribute to vitamin D deficiency. While it is important to respect cultural traditions, it may be helpful to find ways to incorporate sunlight exposure into your daily routine.
It is important to note that vitamin D deficiency can be prevented and managed by following a healthy lifestyle and getting enough sunlight exposure. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about your vitamin D levels or if you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency due to medication or medical conditions.
Darker Skin Pigmentation
Melanin is a pigment that determines the color of our skin. People with darker skin have more melanin, which helps protect their skin from the harmful effects of the sun. However, this also means that they need more sunlight exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people with darker skin are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency compared to those with lighter skin. This is because the melanin in their skin blocks UVB rays, which are necessary for the skin to produce vitamin D. As a result, people with darker skin need to spend more time in the sun to get enough vitamin D.
Another reason why people with darker skin may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency is that they tend to have lower levels of vitamin D-binding protein, which is needed to transport vitamin D from the skin to the liver. This means that even if they get enough sunlight exposure, their bodies may not be able to effectively absorb and use the vitamin D produced.
It's important for people with darker skin to monitor their vitamin D levels and consider taking supplements or increasing their sun exposure if necessary. Consulting with a healthcare provider is recommended to determine the appropriate dosage of vitamin D supplements.
Another surprising factor that can cause vitamin D deficiency in the body is age. As we get older, our body's ability to absorb and produce vitamin D decreases. This is because our skin becomes less efficient in converting sunlight into vitamin D. Additionally, as we age, we tend to spend less time outdoors and have a more sedentary lifestyle, which further reduces our exposure to sunlight and the amount of vitamin D our body can produce.
It's estimated that around 75% of adults aged 70 years and older in the US have low levels of vitamin D. This puts them at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, falls, fractures, and other health issues.
To combat this, it's recommended that older adults get more sunlight exposure and increase their vitamin D intake through supplements or vitamin-D rich foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products. It's important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplements to ensure that you are getting the appropriate dosage and not exceeding the recommended daily intake.
Apart from the aforementioned causes, another significant factor that may lead to vitamin D deficiency in the body is dietary restrictions. If you follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, you may be at a higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency as the vitamin primarily comes from animal-based sources such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and liver.
Similarly, if you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, you may be limiting your intake of vitamin D, which is often added to dairy products. Additionally, those who have celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may struggle to absorb vitamin D properly, even if they consume enough of it in their diet.
Therefore, it is crucial for people with dietary restrictions to monitor their vitamin D levels regularly and consider taking supplements or incorporating fortified foods into their diet to ensure they are meeting their daily requirements. Your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you determine the best approach based on your unique needs.