Vitamin D deficiency is a problem even for 90% of the Polish population. This is mainly due to insufficient exposure to sunlight. Lack of vitamin D3 gives numerous health symptoms, not only in the form of weakened bones, but also frequent infections, low-grade inflammation, problems with concentration and memory, or bad mood. To avoid the effects of vitamin D deficiency, supplementation is essential.
Vitamin D deficiency - how often does it occur?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This term is used for both vitamin D2 and D3, which have the same functions after transformation in the body. Originally, the role of vitamin D is mainly regulating calcium-phosphate balance and strengthening bones, but its biological effects are much broader, and vitamin D deficiencies are dangerous to health.
Human skin synthesises vitamin D from sunlight, which is its main source. Food is very low in vitamin D,, and at the same time, skin exposure to the sun is not enough for the majority of the population in Poland. Vitamin D deficiency is very common all over the world. According to the research methodology and its area, it is estimated that vitamin D deficiency concerns 50-80% of the world population. In Poland, the situation is even worse. According to epidemiological studies, vitamin D3 deficiency concerns more than 90% of people. This is connected with the geographical location and climate of Poland, where the number of sunny days and exposure to sunlight is insufficient to cover the demand for vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency - why is the skin synthesis not enough?
To avoid vitamin D deficiency, it is recommended to expose at least 18% of the body, including the face, hands, forearms, and partly legs, to sunlight for 20 minutes every day without using sunscreen. It seems that 20 minutes in the sun is not much, but in the Polish climate from October to March skin synthesis does not take place at all while from April to September it is impossible to ensure adequate exposure for the majority of the population. Even in sunny countries, there are vitamin D deficiencies, and in the Polish climate skin synthesis of vitamin D occurs only from the end of April to the beginning of September, between 10 am and 3 pm, during sunny days.
Vitamin D3 deficiency and healthy bones
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are most visible and easiest to relate with occurring disorders of calcium metabolism and bone mineralization. The effects of profound vitamin D deficiency in adults include osteomalacia, bone softening, and osteoporosis characterized by increased susceptibility to fracture and impaired bone fusion. Among children, it can lead to delayed growth of milk teeth or even rickets, a disease caused by abnormal bone mineralization. However, vitamin D deficiency results not only in weakening of the skeletal system.
Vitamin D deficiency - symptoms and consequences
Modern science has revealed that vitamin D receptors are found in almost every cell of the body. Vitamin D regulates the processes of cell division, affects the immune system, nervous system, regulation of inflammatory processes, production of red blood cells, and even some genes expression. The effects of vitamin D deficiency increase the risk of:
- numerous immune disorders,
- frequent infections and more severe infectious diseases,
- autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto's, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis,
- ischaemic heart disease,
- type 1 diabetes,
- insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes,
- mood disorders,
- cognitive problems,
- Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases,
- some cancers: uterine, ovarian, breast, prostate, colorectal, leukemia, lymphoma.
The symptoms of lack of vitamin D3 are mostly non-specific and difficult to link with deficiencies. However, being aware of the enormous impact of vitamin D on health, it is important to take into account that, for example, frequent colds are a direct symptom of D3 deficiency, and that it leads to persistently worse moods and even depression.
Lack of vitamin D in the organism - who is at risk?
Everyone is exposed to vitamin D deficiencies in the Polish climate and geographical latitude. However, for a part of the population, the risk of the lack of vitamin D may be even higher. It is related to the lifestyle and condition of health. Especially vulnerable to the effects of vitamin D3 deficiency are obese people of all ages, adults as well as children (due to the dissolution of vitamin D in adipose tissue), night shift workers (often during the day they sleep off night work and do not go out into the sun), people with dark skin (their skin is more resistant to UV radiation and less of it penetrates the epidermis), people who avoid the sun, who cover their whole body with sunscreens, people who spend a lot of time at home (including seniors).
The lack of vitamin D in the body is not always the same. In medical practice, there are several conditions distinguished based on vitamin D levels in the form of 25OHD:
- Vitamin D deficiency: <25 nmol/l; the biggest state of Vitamin D deficiency,
- Vitamin D deficiency: 25-50 nmol/l,
- suboptimal level of Vitamin D: >50-75 nmol/l; this is not a normal state, but at the same time does not carry as much risk as deficiency,
- recommended level of Vitamin D: >75-200 nmol/l.
Vitamin D deficiency - necessary supplementation
In Poland, vitamin d3 supplementation is recommended for the whole population (even people without D3 deficiency) from October to March, as well as during the spring-summer season if sun exposure is less than 20 minutes a day. For people with no symptoms of Vit D3 deficiency, there is no need to do blood tests to check the level of vitamin D in serum. Supplementation will certainly not do any harm. The toxicity limit of Vit D is high, and the scientific community is investigating whether there are overdose symptoms at all with high doses. Given the fact that Vit D3 deficiency in Poland is very common, stop thinking, just start supplementing Vitamin D. However, it is worth doing tests to choose more precisely the dose of the vitamin, which should be adapted to the serum concentration of vitamin D and body weight. The greater the vitamin D deficit or deficiency observed the more vitamin D per day should be taken.
Vitamin D deficiencies - how many supplements to take?
Recommendations for supplementation among healthy people without severe vitamin D insufficiency in the body are as follows:
- newborns and infants up to 6 months - 400 IU (International Units)/day,
- infants up to 12 months - 400-600 IU/day depending on the amount of vitamin D in the food,
- newborns born prematurely - 800 IU/day until the corrected age of 40 weeks,
- children from 1 to 10 years of age - 600-1000 IU/day according to body weight,
- children and adolescents from 10 to 18 years of age - 800-2000 IU/day depending on body weight,
- adults: 800-2000 IU/day according to body weight,
- pregnant women: 2000 IU/day,
- obese children - 1200-2000 IU/day,
- obese adults: 1600-4000 IU/day.
Among obese people, the increased dosage of vitamin D supplements is because it is easily absorbed and dissolved in body fat, so the organism cannot use it. After some time, there is a saturation of vitamin D in fat tissue and its release into the bloodstream, which has beneficial health effects.
Vitamin D deficiency - supplementation
When vitamin D deficiency is identified, supplementation with 1000 to 10000 IU daily for 1 to 3 months is recommended. The timing and dose of supplementation depend on age, body weight, and the level of vitamin D deficit.
Supplements for vitamin D deficiency
Supplements used for vitamin D deficiency can be in the form of tablets, capsules, or oil-based drops. They are most commonly used once a day. If the supplement does not have fat in which vitamin D is dissolved, it should be taken with a meal containing it. Vitamin D belongs to the fat-soluble vitamins so this nutrient is essential to improve its absorption from the digestive tract.
Vitamin D deficiencies and lack of ability to meet the body's needs are so common that it should become a daily part of taking care of your health care routine.