Vitamin D-ficiency

By Jennifer Carland, RD, CDN

If you live in Western New York, you are familiar with the long, cold, snowy, winter months. It is common for people in this region to be deficient in vitamin D, which our bodies produce from sun exposure. Even if you stood outside for hours on a sunny day in January, you could still be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Where we live, there is not enough ultraviolet B (UVB) for our bodies to produce the necessary amount of vitamin D between the months of November and March.

Besides sunlight, we are able to get some vitamin D from foods, though sources are limited. The best food sources of vitamin D are salmon, tuna, milk, eggs and fortified orange juice.

Our bodies need vitamin D in order to absorb calcium for bone growth. This vital nutrient also plays a role in muscle function and helps to keep the immune system strong.

Older adults require 800 IU of vitamin D each day. As we age, our body’s ability to produce vitamin D diminishes; therefore, elderly people are more at risk for vitamin D deficiency than the rest of the population.

Other Risk Factors of Vitamin D Deficiency Include:

  • Darker skin tone
  • Being overweight
  • Staying indoors
  • Not consuming enough foods high in Vitamin D

Signs of Potential Vitamin D Deficiency:

  • Tiredness
  • Getting sick often
  • Bone loss
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain

A simple blood test can determine if your vitamin D levels are sufficient. If you have been told you are vitamin D deficient or believe that you have symptoms of deficiency, talk to your doctor about whether supplementation is recommended for you.