Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency – what can you do?
Vitamin D is very important for us. It plays an important role in many processes in our body and it strengthens our immune system. The latter is especially remarkable in times of COVID-19. This is exactly why you should not experience a lack of it. Unfortunately, a deficiency creeps in very easily from time to time. So a question arises, how can you correct a Vitamin D deficiency? For this you need to know the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
If you know what you are looking for, if you do not have enough of the vitamin in your body, you can take action. You need to know the consequences and you need to know how you can take action against the deficiency yourself.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a substance that acts in our body in various ways. It is produced by our body itself or absorbed through food. In the blood it regulates the calcium level. It helps to form or maintain bone mass. It also supports the immune system and even has an effect on our psyche.
In a nutshell, we would actually be up to 90% self-sufficient in this important vitamin. Unfortunately, this does not work in reality. This is related to our lifestyle and the chemistry we use.
When we feel enough sunlight on our skin, our body becomes active. The production of vitamin D begins. We feel better because it lifts the spirits. We become less ill and our body is generally stronger.
The work of vitamin D can be easily followed throughout the year. We are happy in summer. Then we get sun and we feel better. In winter, on the other hand, we get the so-called winter depression. We do not feel so well and we get sick easily. This is all thanks to the vitamin or the lack of it.
What does this have to do with our lifestyle and our chemistry? If you sit at home or in the office all day, driving around in your car and going shopping under artificial light, you cause the deficiency in question. You do not get enough light. It gets worse when you use cream. If they have a sun protection factor, they block enough sunlight to slow down the production of Vitamin D.
So what is the Vitamin D? It's the feel-good vitamin. It's the sun vitamin. It's so easily available and responsible for so much. But it is also a very neglected element, the lack of which has some negative consequences.
Vitamin D in your body
Vitamin D is therefore very important for us. But how does it behave in our body? Where does it come from and what is its function? Let's start with how our body produces vitamin D itself. It starts with the sun's radiation.
As soon as we get enough UV rays on our skin, a substance in it is activated and vitamin D3 is produced. This is converted and leads in several steps to the formation of the hormone calcitriol. Hormones are important for our body because they control many processes. Strictly speaking, Vitamin D is not a vitamin, because it is not supplied from outside. Furthermore, it does not necessarily act directly itself, but in conjunction with hormone production.
In our body, the newly formed hormone calcitriol has several functions in which Vitamin D is also involved. This begins with the calcium level in our blood and then with bone growth. In addition, the vitamin influences the immune system by helping it to control the immune reaction.
And what about our mood? This is controlled by serotonin, the so-called feel-good hormone. Vitamin D is also involved in its formation. Overall, it is therefore responsible for the following:
- The control of calcium levels
- The growth and preservation of bones
- The control of the immune system
- The cell division
- The production of the feel-good hormone serotonin
In Summer we produce Vitamin D in our body mainly by ourselves. During Winter, we can specifically promote the formation by going out more in the sun. This simply means that we can easily end the Vitamin D3 deficiency via the sun exposure. We should also make sure that our diet includes more suppliers of this vitamin. Whether you have enough of it, you can easily see from your mood.
How much Vitamin D do you need?
The need for Vitamin D varies from person to person. However, some general statements can be made. First of all, the more you weigh, the more you need more of it. In addition, young people, children, babies and pregnant women need more of it. Their bones, muscles and brain are still developing. In pregnant women, it is the babies that grow inside them and have the greater need. Conversely, older people have a lower need for it.
On the other hand, there is the production of your body. How much vitamin D is produced in you depends not only on sunlight but also on the colour of your skin. The darker your skin is, the more your skin blocks the sun. This means that people with light skin produce Vitamin D much faster and in larger quantities. In other words, a Vitamin D deficiency also depends on your skin.
With a Vitamin D deficiency test you can find out whether you have enough vitamin D and what your personal requirements are. You will need to have some blood taken for this. But this is not absolutely necessary, because you can also test yourself. Just watch your mood. The better you feel, the more Vitamin D is in your blood. By the way, the supply of Vitamin D is not science. You don't have to supply exactly what you need. If you over-supply today, what's too much will be stored. Tomorrow, when you over-supply, it will be stored in that tank.
However, the rule of thumb is that you should rather over-supply than under-supply. So if you don't feel so comfortable in your skin right now, just go out in the sun for a while. The result is a better mood thanks to more Vitamin D.
Take this advice very seriously. There is a real Vitamin D deficiency depression that occurs when the deficiency lasts longer. This means that if you do not pay attention to your mood today, it can have serious consequences tomorrow.
Vitamin D deficiency in Germany
What is the situation in Germany? Do we get enough sun in our latitudes to be optimally supplied with the so important Vitamin D? The Robert Koch Institute has provided the answer with a study. This study found very dark figures.
According to the study, half of Germans have a Vitamin D deficiency. The diet, the age of those affected, their work, their skin, the sun and the absorption of calcium through the diet have the greatest influence on this.
Overall, the uptake of Vitamin D through diet is less pronounced in Germany. If the formation of Vitamin D through the sun's rays fails to occur, a serious deficiency will quickly develop.
The consequences of Vitamin D deficiency are sometimes considerable. They manifest themselves in premature aging, as the cell division of the skin is impaired. The musculature suffers, as do the bones, and mental performance decreases.
Causes of Vitamin D deficiency
Various causes lead to a lack of this important vitamin. First and foremost, it is the sun's rays that determine how much of it we have in our blood. However, this solar radiation is not the same everywhere.
The further north you are, the less sunlight reaches your skin. This means that the more you move towards the coast, the greater the shortage. The limit is approximately the height of Berlin. Everything located there and further south gets enough sun. Everything further north does not get enough sunlight.
Besides the sun, nutrition is another important factor. Vitamin D is contained in eel, cod liver oil, herring, salmon, tuna, mushrooms, eggs, cheese and avocados. If you do not eat any of these regularly, the deficiency will slowly build up inside you.
After the diet, it is the lifestyle that can promote the lack of Vitamin D. If you constantly sit indoors, i.e. do not go outdoors and work in the office, you suffer a deficiency. This is all the more true as working hours are usually in the sunniest hours of the day. Not only are you then deprived of the sun, you are then left with only the less sun-intensive hours of the day to get a few more sunrays.
In addition to the working hours, there are also the clothes associated with the work. We need the sun's rays on our skin. But it is covered, because nobody is allowed to wear shorts and t-shirts to work. This means that the sun can only reach the hands and face on the way to and from work. But this is by far not enough area for sufficient production of Vitamin D.
How can you counteract this? In your free time, try to show the sun as much skin as possible. Especially at the weekend, you should also use the sun-intensive hours of the day for this. Then you can at least achieve a certain balance.
Another factor is age. Now it is true that older people need less Vitamin D than younger people. That's why the body produces less as it gets older. However, this must now be combined with a few other facts. For example, sunlight is not ideal, then there is the factor nutrition and work. All of these factors together lead to a much more pronounced deficiency of this important vitamin in older people.
Age also means that people are less active. As a result, they spend less time outdoors and get less sun. They eat less, which means that they are not compensated for by their diet. In addition, the body absorbs even fewer nutrients from food.
We can all see how people tend to have less weight as they get older. This considerably worsens the absorption of Vitamin D through diet.
As mentioned here, skin colour is also a factor that needs to be taken into account. The darker the skin colour, the slower vitamin D3 is produced by sunlight. So you have to check yourself how light your skin is, and accordingly, get more light when it is a little darker.
Especially in northern regions, there is a high risk of Vitamin D deficiency for those with darker skin colour. This is where you have to focus more on proper nutrition.
Let us now turn to chemistry. Unfortunately, this too is a homemade problem that is becoming more and more widespread these days. There is even another factor involved. UV radiation actually brings with it the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging. Many people try to prevent this.
There are creams with sun protection factors to counter the risks of the sun's rays. These are actually well-intentioned, but they block the UV rays that are needed to produce Vitamin D3. This means that while you protect yourself with your creams, you are causing a Vitamin D3 deficiency. This can then become a danger again.
In the end, it all comes down to the balance. If you do not apply any cream, you risk cancer. If you do, you block production. Fortunately, there is always some UV-radiation coming through. Therefore, it is better to work with creams and get more sun than to do without creams and the sun.
Then there is the showering. We all want to be clean and feel good in our skin. When we have been lying in the sun or have been outside on a sunny day, we also sweat. Now all we want to do is get in the shower and wash away everything that goes with it.
Unfortunately taking a shower is a big mistake. This is because Vitamin D is produced in the skin. But this is not a process that just happens at the moment. Moreover, the vitamin is then also in the skin. From there it must get into the blood, which also takes a while. This can take up to 48 hours.
A shower can not only remove the vitamin from the skin before it enters the bloodstream. The vitamin is not produced in the skin, but on the skin itself. To be precise, this happens in the so-called skin sebum. This is where the preliminary stage of Vitamin D3 is produced.
A shower with soap or gel also removes the fat from the skin. This means that it does not only rinse off the vitamin, but the whole sebum. This ends the new formation and the substances already produced are removed again.
If you want to avoid this, there is only one answer. After a sunbath or a day in the sun you have to wait. It takes at least 4 hours until the formation is complete and the vitamin has penetrated so far into the skin that a shower will not harm it.
Now it is not always possible to do without a shower for 4 hours. In such a case you should leave it at a quick shower without shower gel. Then the skin sebum is preserved and the vitamin still has a chance to get where it belongs.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency
Lack of vitamin D is relatively easy to detect from some symptoms. However, these symptoms are not necessarily specific to this deficiency alone, which means that they can also be attributed to another cause. However, you can simply try to end the deficiency. For example, you can take action against a vitamin D deficiency in your diet. Try this or go out more in the sun. If the symptoms then subside, it was a Vitamin D deficiency that caused it.
Typical signs are always a bad mood or a low sense of well-being. This is especially true in the winter months, but can also occur in summer. If you often catch a cold, there may also be a lack of this important vitamin. If you do sport and your performance drops without explanation, this is also a sign.
If you don't react to the first symptoms, there will soon be more effects. For example, a vitamin D deficiency can cause hair loss. There is also a connection between a vitamin D deficiency and weight gain. The latter is due to the fact that the body wants to get the vitamin through food and therefore suggests that you have a strong appetite. In less extreme cases, the Vitamin D deficiency leads to fatigue.
In any case, it is important that you perceive the symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency as such, at least in general. Then you can find out what is really behind it by trying to change your lifestyle or diet.
Vitamin D deficiency test
Basically, it is sufficient to pay attention to the general signs of a vitamin D deficiency. As soon as these appear, you can counteract the deficiency. If the symptoms disappear, your diagnosis was correct. Sometimes, however, you want more certainty.
If you want to be 100% sure, you will not be able to avoid a blood test. This can be done by your family doctor. But there are now kits that allow you to test yourself at home.
For the test itself, only a few drops of blood are needed. These can be taken from your finger and then analyzed on a test strip. This can be done by your family doctor in the laboratory or by self-testing at home. In most cases, the laboratory will send the results to you online so that you don't have to wait long. With the self-test, you just compare the strip after the test with the pictures on the package.
Vitamin D deficiency therapy
A therapy for a vitamin da deficiency is a good option and not difficult to implement. Since it does not cause any negative consequences, you should start with it even if you only suspect an undersupply.
If there is a Vitamin D deficiency in children, timely therapy is even more important. This is because Vitamin D deficiency affects children much more. Their brains are still developing and this is exactly what the deficiency makes difficult.
The therapy can be divided into two areas. There is the easy therapy, in which an assumed undersupply is compensated by natural measures. The stronger therapy is to be used when there is a severe deficiency and has been proven by a blood test.
For a light therapy simply life should be changed. Look for the sun more, bathe in it and don't take a shower right after. Eat more foods with Vitamin D, such as eel or liver. In winter, light therapy can be added to this. As the natural sunlight is not sufficient, a solarium is used to help. This solution is not necessarily ideal, but it is better than simply accepting the deficiency.
The change of diet is not always that easy. Not everyone can eat animal foods or digest them properly. In addition, the deficiency may already be so pronounced that a better supply must take effect more quickly.
In such extreme cases a stronger therapy is indicated. This consists of administering certain Vitamin D preparations. There are general doses for this or, after a test, quantities adjusted to you personally.
Vitamin D deficiency - conclusions
Vitamin D deficiency can develop very easily. This is mainly due to our lifestyle, when we spend the sun-intensive time indoors every day. In addition, we wear long clothes and want to take a shower after every walk in the sun. In addition, we simply no longer eat properly.
A Vitamin D deficiency can have significant effects. It starts with a general negative mood, continues with a poorer immune system and ends with reduced performance. In addition, hair loss and overweight are also possible.
You can easily put an end to a Vitamin D deficiency if you recognise it early. Go out in the sun more. Choose the sun-intensive hours of the day to go outside. Eat more foods that provide you with Vitamin D. In extreme cases, you may need to take a blood test at home or at the doctor's and use supplements. Vitamin D is important and a deficiency is a real problem. But you are not at the mercy of a deficiency. It is relatively easy to end it. So don't wait too long if you suspect the Vitamin D deficiency.