Vitamins are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is one of the main building blocks of bone. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis or rickets. Vitamin D also has a role in your nerve, muscle, and immune systems.
You can get vitamin D in three ways: through your skin, from your diet, and from supplements. Your body forms vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight. However, too much sun exposure can lead to skin aging and skin cancer. So many people try to get their vitamin D from other sources.
Vitamin D-rich foods include egg yolks, saltwater fish, and liver. Some other foods, like milk and cereal, often have added vitamin D. You can also take vitamin D supplements. Check with your health care provider to see how much you should take. People who might need extra vitamin D include
People with dark skin
People with certain conditions, such as liver diseases, cystic fibrosis and Crohn's disease
People who have obesity or have had gastric bypass surgery
Source: NIH: National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
Some people may not have any symptoms of vitamin D deficiency and still be deficient.
The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are sometimes vague and can include tiredness and general aches and pains. Some people may not have any symptoms at all.
If you have a severe vitamin D deficiency you may have pain in your bones and weakness, which may mean you have difficulty getting around. You may also have frequent infections. However, not everyone gets these symptoms.
If you think you may have vitamin D deficiency, you should see your physician, or have a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.
How do I know if I’m deficient in vitamin D?
The way doctors measure if you’re deficient in vitamin D is by testing your 25(OH)D level, but most doctors just call this a vitamin D test. Getting this blood test is the only accurate way to know if you’re deficient or not. Please see our testing page for more information.
High blood pressure and Vitamin D
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. High blood pressure causes your arteries to stretch beyond normal.
There are risk factors that can increase your chances of developing hypertension. Some of these risk factors are based on your lifestyle and can be controlled, like your diet. Other risk factors can’t be controlled, such as age or gender.
Research shows that there is a link between vitamin D and hypertension. People with higher vitamin D levels tend to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop hypertension.
Some studies show that taking a vitamin D supplement may help people lower their blood pressure. However, the research has been inconsistent, meaning that we can’t say for sure whether or not taking vitamin D supplements would reduce your chances of developing hypertension or reduce your blood pressure.
If you have hypertension or you are trying to prevent hypertension and want to take vitamin D, it is unlikely to make your hypertension worse or cause you any harm, as long as you take less than 10,000 IU per day. However, we also can’t say for sure if it will help to prevent or treat hypertension.
Courtesy of Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Pacific Southwest District