What causes low vitamin D levels? | Exercise.com Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

What causes low vitamin D levels?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • Many people are deficient in vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is difficult to get in your diet, and although it comes from the sun, most people do not get enough sun exposure these days.
  • Vitamin D deficiency can be cured through taking supplements, intentional outdoor time, or a carefully planned diet.

Vitamin D is often nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin.”

More people experience vitamin D deficiencies than surpluses. But the sun is everywhere, so what causes people to have low vitamin D levels?

In today’s society, it can be difficult — or even next to impossible — to get enough sun. Very few people have the luxury of working outdoors, and with the advent of technology and multitasking, vacation time is almost unheard of.

Let’s take a deeper look at our modern vitamin D deficiency problem and be sure to sign up for an Exercise.com PRO plan for access to workout routines that you can do outside for some much-needed sunshine.

What Causes Low Vitamin D Levels?

Vitamin D deficiency is very common. Unlike other nutrients, it is not abundant in many foods. In the foods that do naturally have vitamin D, you need to eat a significant amount to meet the recommended daily requirement.

Since vitamin D is found in foods uncommon to the average person’s diet, like fatty fish and meats such as sardines and liver, as well as certain cheeses, you may not be eating these foods at all.

If you have eliminated these types of foods from your diet because you are trying to lose weight or have lactose intolerance issues, you are missing out on even more chances of getting vitamin D.

For more information on dietary requirements, visit the USDA website.

As already mentioned, you also get vitamin D from the sun. However, if you spend most of your time indoors, your skin is not taking in enough sunlight to be effective.

Glass windows block the UVB rays needed for the absorption of vitamin D.

Weather can also influence your supply of vitamin D from the sun. Staying in the shade or living year-round in places where it is mostly cloudy or highly polluted lessens the level of helpful UVB rays.

Additionally, the sun has been named as a culprit in a multitude of illnesses, including skin cancer.  For this reason, most of us pile on sunscreen when we are outside. The sunscreen blocks those important UVB rays.

Skin tone is also a factor. People with darker skin do not produce as much vitamin D in their skin as those with lighter complexions.

Bodyweight is another aspect that can cause low vitamin D levels. The total quantity of body fat you have can change the rate of absorption of vitamin D.

What Are the Consequences of Low Vitamin D Levels?

When your body lacks sufficient amounts of vitamin D, it begins to affect your bones because they do not absorb enough calcium. This results in very serious ailments with life-changing outcomes.

For children, not receiving adequate levels of vitamin D can cause problems with growth and possibly bring about a disease called rickets.

This affliction happens when the bones do not have the proper minerals, which causes them to be soft. Distortions of the skeleton are commonly seen with this disease.

In adults, low vitamin D levels can result in osteoporosis over time. This is typically the reason for frailty and aches in bones and muscles as you age.

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Why Do We Need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a necessary nutrient for your body. Its primary function is to help your body absorb phosphorus and calcium.

You get vitamin D from the UVB rays of the sun, fatty fish, and oils, and from a variety of foods that have been fortified with vitamin D.

You may have noticed that the labels on most of the milk you purchase prominently state that it has added vitamin D.

Calcium is essential for your growth and bones but it is not as effective without the vitamin D to get it into your body as needed.

How Can You Raise Your Vitamin D Levels?

Some people mistakenly believe you can decrease the level of calcium in your blood by taking more vitamin D and vice versa, but this is incorrect.

Although vitamin D helps with calcium absorption you cannot play them against each other. You need the right amount of each nutrient.

Eating more products that have been fortified with vitamin D can help. Among the items you can choose from are margarine, yogurt, cereal, and orange juice. A daily dose of cod liver oil can also significantly raise your intake of vitamin D.

More sunlight exposure may be beneficial as well in increasing your level of vitamin D. Research has shown that as little as 20 minutes of time outside during the day when the sun is at its peak can have a major impact on your vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D supplements can be found at practically any grocery, pharmacy, or health food store. They can help close the gap between how much vitamin D you need and how much you actually receive.

And don’t forget that having a properly balanced diet is just one part of total body fitness. Check out our PRO plan today to see how we can help you stay motivated and fit all year long!

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