What's the big deal about vitamin D?
We see lots of articles and reports about vitamin D, but what are the facts? Vitamin D is very important for many functions in the body. Most people are aware the "fortified" milk products contain vitamin D, but few people know what functions it has. Vitamin D is mostly obtained, however, with direct sunlight exposure. With the common use of sunscreens, we are seeing more and more severe vitamin D deficiencies in people of all ages.
Vitamin D is very important for healthy bones. Vitamin D (and magnesium) are required for proper absorption of calcium, which is needed for bone growth and turnover (even in adults). Calcium is needed for many electrical functions in the body such as heart rhythm, muscle and brain function so without sufficient vitamin D, a lack of intracellular calcium may occur. This intracellular depletion of calcium is NOT detectable on routine blood work. Brittle bones and/or unhealthy bones may result. Other people may suffer from severe muscle cramps or spasms.
Vitamin D is also necessary for proper thyroid function. Without a sufficient amount of vitamin D, the thyroid is unable to properly activate thyroid hormone. Symptoms of low thyroid may sometimes been seen in patients with vitamin D deficiency.
Other symptoms that may occur include: hair loss, nail changes, and muscle cramps (especially at night). Most patients may have no symptoms at all, however. If you have not had your vitamin D level checked in the past, consider asking your healthcare provider to check this test with your next set of blood tests.