In recent years, an ever-increasing number of scientific studies have highlighted the importance of vitamin D for various aspects of our health. A right concentration of vitamin D is essential for bones, to maintain the correct levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, to keep depression away and for the proper functioning of our immune system in general: this is why it is very important especially in winter, period typically linked to seasonal ailments.
What is it for? What to do in case of vitamin D deficiency? Let’s see it together.
Vitamin D: What it is and What it is Used for
Often called the “sun vitamin”, vitamin D includes a group of real hormones (vitamin D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5) which is synthesized by the skin when it comes into contact with the sunrays and only in minimal part with the diet.
In children, vitamin D is essential to ensure adequate bone calcification, thus preventing bone deformation or rickets; during adulthood it regulates calcium metabolism, helps make teeth stronger and more resistant to cavities and maintains normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood.
Although there is still no scientific evidence, it seems that the importance of vitamin D goes far beyond bone health: its deficiency is linked to different types of diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, asthma and depression. Not least the Coronavirus (studies are currently trying to shed light on a possible correlation).
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency does not involve particular symptoms; only in rare cases, severe vitamin D deficiency can cause chronic muscle pain.
The period of the year in which the level of vitamin D can drop is typically autumn and winter, when the hours of light decrease and the exposure of the skin to sunlight is reduced (also thanks to more opaque clothes).
Behaviors that can lead to a vitamin D deficiency include:
- Spending many hours in enclosed spaces away from the sun
- Wearing clothing that is too opaque
- Using sunscreens that are too high
- Abusing alcohol
- Consuming drugs or medications that interfere with vitamin D production
How to Supplement Vitamin D: Food and Sun
Vitamin D can only be partially integrated with the diet; in fact, there are few foods that contain it: among these fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, fish oil (especially cod liver oil), fatty cheeses and red meats.
The greatest contribution to maintaining an adequate level of vitamin D therefore comes from sun exposure. The advice is to expose yourself to the sun at least 10-15 minutes a day in the time slot in which the sunrays are strongest, that is, between 10 AM and 3PM. If this is not enough, you may consider, under medical supervision, to take specific supplements.
Vitamin D Supplements
A valuable aid to vitamin D deficiency is the intake of supplements, of which there are several variants. Generally, cholecalciferol is used – one of the vitamins that make up group D – to be taken orally in the form of drops or tablets.
Cholecalciferol acts directly on the levels of vitamin D in the body by promoting the absorption of calcium in the digestive system and regulating functions in the body. It is recommended that you do not take any other vitamins or supplements without first consulting your doctor.