Vitamin D in balance Vitamin D in balance

Learn how to obtain it and ensure appropriate levels in the body.

Advisors: Eric Hernández, endocrinologist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Juan David Gómez, endocrinologist

Vitamin D is an essential part of the physiology and articulation of multiple functions of the body, especially those related to the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, for the maintenance of the musculoskeletal system.

Insufficiency or deficiency of vitamin D is a nutritional disorder that affects a large percentage of people. According to a study by Endocare laboratories, about 76% of adult women have vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency. A level of vitamin D between 30 and 100 nanograms per milliliter is considered optimal, above 20 and below 30 is equivalent to an insufficiency and less than 20 to a deficiency. When vitamin D levels are below 10, they are generally associated with diseases such as rickets or osteomalacia. In turn, levels above 100 are usually associated with excessive supplementation.

The Sun is the key

All people require sun exposure to get vitamin D, however there are some factors that influence their levels. Some factors are physical and others are environmental. For example, people with lighter colors of skin are more sensitive to injury from overexposure to the sun, while darker skins are more resistant. Age is also a factor to take into account, since the more advanced, the lower the ability to produce vitamin D. Among the environmental factors, these include cloudiness and the shortening of days in countries with seasons. Likewise, their impact is associated to factors such as menopause.

Vitamin D can be obtained from sun exposure, it is also present in vitamin supplements and in some foods such as salmon, sardines, and onions, although in smaller amounts.

Experts recommend sunbathing in the morning or afternoon, gradually, starting twice a week for at least 20 minutes, and exposing those parts of the body that are not always exposed, like the legs, back and abdomen. Direct sun exposure is not necessary, so exposing yourself to sunlight in the window, for example, could maintain adequate levels of vitamin D.

Before seeking vitamin D supplements, it is necessary to do tests in people who have chronic kidney failure, rickets, fractures, osteoporosis, kidney disease, obesity, or have suffered bulimia, tuberculosis, fibromyalgia. Tests are also necessary for those who have been exposed to radiation or who have problems to absorb this vitamin. Women who are breastfeeding or who are already in menopause may have different needs as after these stages their requirements increase. 

600 iu (International Unit) mg, is the daily vitamin D required for adults between 19 and 70 years of age, according to the US National Institutes of Health.

Exposure to the sun in areas that do not usually receive it should be done without sunscreen. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, its application reduces up to 90% the absorption of vitamin D.

Breakdown

the power in the foodInternist and endocrinologist, Juan David Gómez Corrales, explains that the discovery of the power of vitamins occurred after it was observed that people who fell ill on long boat trips recovered by consuming fruits or certain foods. “After that, they started giving them names. There is vitamin A, then B, C, D, in alphabetical order. Later, they realized that some of them were not only vitamins but vitamin complexes, that is why there are vitamins B1, B6, B12, which are responsible for producing enzymatic functions so that the cell works well,” he explains. A person can maintain appropriate vitamin levels with the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables of all colors, in addition to proteins such as meats and some grains.

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