Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It helps absorb calcium and phosphorus in the intestines so it can be absorbed by the bones, keeping the skeleton strong. Therefore, preventing bone diseases including, osteoporosis and rickets in children. Vitamin D deficiency also causes a mild muscle weakness, thus increasing the risk of falls and hence fractures in older people. Therefore, vitamin D supplementation is often important in this age group. It is also known as the “good mood vitamin” and research shows it helps fight depression.
How is Vitamin D Produced?
Vitamin D can be produced in our skin, taking supplements or in the food we eat. The most effective way of making Vitamin D is 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight to our skin from late March until September, which means this vitamin cannot be made in our skin during the Winter months. Older people and people with dark skin are less able to produce vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D is found in foods like oily fish (salmon & mackerel), liver, cereals, eggs, and dairy products. For those who cannot get enough vitamin D through diet alone, supplements as well as an adequate diet can help.
What are the Risk Factors for Vitamin D Deficiency?
- Being elderly
- Physically inactive or obese
- Not eating oily fish, cereals or dairy products
- Staying indoors
- Having dark skin
Who else is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?
People with conditions that limit fat absorption
Due to vitamin D being fat soluble, its absorption is dependent on the intestinal tract’s ability to absorb dietary fat. Fat malabsorption occurs with medical conditions such as coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, liver disease and cystic fibrosis. In addition, some of these conditions can limit the person’s ability to eat certain foods including dairy products (which are often fortified with vitamin D) or can eat only small amounts of these foods thus further increasing vitamin D deficiency risk. Vitamin D supplements should be considered in patients with these conditions.
People with obesity or who have undergone gastric bypass surgery
People with a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30 tend to have lower levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream. Obesity does not reduce the skin’s capacity to produce vitamin D. However, greater amounts of subcutaneous fat tend to absorb more vitamin D, so greater intakes of vitamin D are needed to achieve vitamin D levels similar to those of normal weight.
Obese patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery (also called bariatric surgery) can become vitamin D deficient. This is because for this procedure, part of the upper small intestine, where vitamin D is absorbed, is bypassed. Vitamin supplementation before and after bariatric surgery is generally advised.
Covid-19 Booster Vaccine
Whelehans Pharmacy Pearse St have a weekly walk-in clinic for Covid-19 boosters. Call 0449334591 for more info.
To be continued… next week