Vitamin deficiency can result in numerous health problems including disease, pain, inflammation and even increased risk of cancer. Two of the most common deficiencies are vitamin D and B12. The primary way to retrieve vitamin D is through the sun. Studies have shown that even if you live in a sunny environment, it is still very possible to be deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin B12 on the other hand is most commonly retrieved through diet. Deficiency is vitamin B12 is most common in those who don’t consume a sufficient amount of animal products.
Vitamin D deficiency
If you are experiencing bone pain or muscle weakness, you are probably suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is synthesized in your body in response to sunlight. Therefore, a lack of direct sunlight may result in being vitamin D deficient. Even if you live in a generally sunny environment, depending on your lifestyle, you can easily be deficient. For example, if your job requires you to be indoors all day, you may very well be lacking vitamin D. Studies have also shown that people who live 37 degrees above or below the equator receive much less direct sunlight than places closer to the equator. That is why vitamin D deficiency is so prevalent in places like the Pacific Northwest.
There are a very small number of foods that actually contain vitamin D, therefore increased sun exposure and/or supplements is usually required to obtain healthy levels.
The most common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include weakness, irritability, mood changes, overall tiredness, lack of energy and overall depression. As mentioned before, vitamin B12 is consumed primarily through diet. B12 is only found in animal products, therefore vegans and vegetarians are at high risk. Another factor that can contribute to being deficient in vitamin B12 is alcohol consumption. Alcohol irritates the lining of the intestines and the stomach. Because of this, alcohol blocks B12 from being sufficiently absorbed into the blood stream. If you are vegan, vegetarian, or over the age of 60, you should highly consider taking supplements or receiving B12 injections.
If you are interested in having your vitamin levels assessed, please contact Dr. Lee at Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center or call 206-319-5322.
Vitamin D is important for good overall health with its wide range of benefits. Its primary role is to increase the movement of calcium into the bloodstream by promoting the absorption of calcium from food. This is why it is essential in bone growt
h. Some other health benefits of having a healthy level of vitamin D are: decreased inflammation, decreased risk of cancer, decreased dental cavities, prevention and treatment of depression, and reduced risk of diseases like multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and heart disease.
What happens when vitamin D levels are low?
Seattle is at a latitude of 47° north of the equator, which sets up the population for widespread vitamin D insufficiency. Without vitamin D, bones become thin and brittle. Being vitamin D deficient also increases risk of cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Low blood levels of vitamin D also relate to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Multiple Sclerosis, which causes progressive nerve damage, has been linked to low vitamin D levels. Washington State has one of the highest multiple sclerosis rates in the nation, and it has been theorized that the low levels of sunlight in the winter contribute to this statistic.
How can you get vitamin D?
Vitamin D is often called “the sunshine vitamin” because our bodies synthesize it naturally through direct exposure to sunlight. This is the most natural way to get vitamin D and can happen very quickly, especially in the summer. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on time of day and where you live. You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. This is a good way to get vitamin D if you can’t get enough sunlight or don’t want to expose your skin.
There are very few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Some of these foods include fish with high fat content such as salmon, catfish and tuna. Milk and some cereals are usually fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common especially in northern populations like the Pacific Northwest, where solar radiation in the autumn and winter is much too small to maintain healthy levels.
Your vitamin D level can be easily assessed with a simple blood test. Feel free to contact Seattle Naturopathic Center if you are interested in finding out your vitamin D level.