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Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common in the US, but many Americans mistakenly believe they aren't at risk because they consume vitamin-D-fortified foods (such as milk). There are very few foods that actually have therapeutic levels of vitamin D naturally and even fortified foods do not contain enough vitamin D to support your health needs. Despite its name, vitamin D is not a regular vitamin. It's actually a steroid hormone that you are designed to obtain primarily through sun exposure, not via your diet. It's estimated that over 95 percent of US senior citizens may be deficient in vitamin D, not only because they tend to spend a lot of time indoors but also because they produce less in response to sun exposure (a person over the age of 75 produces about 85 percent less vitamin D than a younger person with the same sun exposure). 7The only way to know for sure if you're vitamin D deficient is via blood testing. However, there are some signs and symptoms to be aware of as well. If any of the following apply to you, you should get your vitamin D levels tested sooner rather than later.

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African Americans are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, because if you have dark skin, you may need as much as 65 times more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a person with pale skin! As Dr. Holick explained, your skin pigment acts as a natural sunscreen, so the more pigment you have, the more time you'll need to spend in the sun to make adequate amounts of vitamin D. Serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, rises with exposure to bright light and falls with decreased sun exposure. In 7556, scientists evaluated the effects of vitamin D on the mental health of 85 elderly patients and found those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 66 times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy doses. 8As mentioned, as you get older your skin doesn't make as much vitamin D in response to sun exposure. At the same time, your kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D into the form used by your body and older adults tend to spend more time indoors (i. E. Getting even less sun exposure and therefore vitamin D). Vitamin D is a fat-soluble, hormone-like vitamin, which means body fat acts as a sink by collecting it.

If you're overweight or obese, you're therefore likely going to need more vitamin D than a slimmer person -- and the same holds true for people with. According to Dr. Holick, many who see their doctor for aches and pains, especially in combination with fatigue, end up being misdiagnosed as having fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. According to Dr. Holick, one of the first, classic signs of vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head. In fact, physicians used to ask new mothers about head sweating in their newborns for this very reason. Excessive sweating in newborns due to neuromuscular irritability is still described as a common, early symptom of vitamin D deficiency. 9Remember, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means if you have a gastrointestinal condition that affects your ability to absorb fat, you may have lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D as well. This includes gut conditions like Crohn's, celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and inflammatory bowel disease. When it comes to vitamin D, you don't want to be in the average or normal range, you want to be in the optimal range.

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The reason for this is that as the years have gone by, researchers have progressively moved that range upward. At present, based on the evaluation of healthy populations that get plenty of natural sun exposure, the optimal range for general health appears to be somewhere between 55 and 75 ng/ml. As for how to optimize your vitamin D levels, I firmly believe that appropriate sun exposure is the best way. In fact, I personally have not taken a vitamin D supplement for three or four years, yet my levels are in the 75 ng/ml range. Generally speaking, this will be when your skin turns the lightest shade of pink or, as Dr. Holick recommends, about half of the time you suspect it would take you to get a mild sunburn (So if you know you tend to get sunburned after 85 minutes, you'd want to stay in the sun for about 65 minutes). How long you need to stay in the sun varies greatly depending on the factors below: Check out these Healthy Body Hacks and gain valuable health information about a wide variety of interesting topics that you won't find anywhere else! If you want to learn what happens to your body when you eat a food or use a particular substance, read these insightful health articles today. Your ultimate guide to common health conditions - know the causes, symptoms, treatment and other information you need to know about diseases.

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