It’s well documented that the diminished hours of sunlight during the winter months negatively impacts a large percentage of the US population. During winter, the combination of fewer hours of sunlight, combined with more time spent indoors, and less direct exposure to sunlight leave many feeling moodiness or general sadness. A major contributing factor to this condition is a lack of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is essential to the body’s functioning: it’s required to absorb calcium and promote bone growth; too little vitamin D results in soft or fragile, misshapen bones. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and the neuromuscular system, and plays major roles in the life cycle of human cells. In addition, a deficiency of the vitamin has been linked to ailments ranging from certain types of cancer, to heart disease and weight gain.
Because it’s so important, the body is able to make vitamin D by itself, by converting specific foods and supplements, and with sufficient exposure to sunlight. It stands to reason that, as winter passes, the days lengthen and more time is spent outdoors, levels of vitamin D naturally rise in the body. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Certain populations, and people with certain conditions are more prone to deficiency, specifically those:
- Who don’t consume the recommended levels of the vitamin.
- Whose exposure to sunlight is limited.
- With dark skin, because the pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure.
- With kidney problems, common in older adults.
- Whose kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to the proper form, also common in older adults.
- With digestive tract issues (Crohn’s or Celiac disease) who can’t absorb vitamin D.
- Who are obese, because the vitamin is extracted from the blood by fat cells, which alters the release into blood circulation.
How do you know if you’re getting enough of the vitamin? The Vitamin D Council suggests that the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are sometimes vague. They may include tiredness and general aches and pains for some; others may not have any symptoms at all. A severe vitamin D deficiency results in pain in the bones coupled with general weakness, and the possibility of frequent infections. If vitamin D deficiency is a concern, the first step is to consult a physician. A simple blood test can reveal vitamin D levels, and a medical professional can help determine the best course of action to remedy the deficiency and get patients back on the road to good health.
At Symbius Medical, we are dedicated to improving the quality of life for our customers and the communities we serve. We offer a 24-hour on-call service that will answer any questions or concerns that you or caregivers may have when using our home medical equipment or products. We invite you to visit one of our regional retail branch locations for all your home medical equipment needs or call us toll free at 800-364-5339 to place your home medical supply order today.