Vitamin D is essential for human health and its deficiency is linked to diseases such as bone problems, muscle weakness and cardiovascular risks. This is the amount your body should have.
Vitamin D, nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin”, often goes unnoticed despite its essential role in our well-being. This molecule is not only essential for bone health, but It plays a surprisingly broad role in various aspects of our body, including heart health.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun. This process is crucial for calcium absorption and the formation of healthy bones. However, in a world where people are spending more time indoors, vitamin D deficiency has become a global health problem.
A new report, presented at the conference American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2023 suggests that The US recommended dietary intake of vitamin D may be too low to achieve optimal levels. in some people, especially those with heart problems.
How much vitamin D do you get and how much should you eat? They warn of an alarming population deficit
The recommended levels of vitamin D in the United States and Chile are the same, around 600 IU for most people (ages 1 to 70) and 800 IU for adults over 71 years old.
Having low levels is linked to health problems, including osteoporosis, muscle weakness and increased risk of autoimmune diseases , cardiovascular problems, impact on mental health and weight and metabolism problems. This deficiency is aggravated by sedentary lifestyles and lack of safe sun exposure.
The National Health Survey of the year 2016 was the first demographic study carried out in Chile which showed data on vitamin D in Chile. The measurement showed that the population with some degree of vitamin D deficiency in the country reached 84%.
In the case of women of childbearing age (under 50), the study found that 16% have severe impairment, while in the elderly population severe cases are more common, reaching 21.5% of people examined.
Another study in children aged 4 to 14 years, carried out in 2019 in Santiago, Concepción and Antofagasta, showed that 70% of the population had a vitamin D deficiency, despite the different solar radiation they receive due to their geographical location.
Previous studies have linked low vitamin D levels to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. “However, the reasons for this association are unclear.” , told Medical News Today Dr. Cheng-Han Chen a cardiologist who did not participate in the study.
Thus, researchers of Intermountain health a healthcare network in the western United States, leads an ongoing clinical trial to examine whether optimal vitamin D levels are associated with a lower risk of adverse cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
Their study included 632 patients who had suffered a heart attack or another type of cardiovascular problem. To obtain the data, one group of participants received standard care, while the other received vitamin D supplements as needed to achieve 40 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter (ng/ml).
Preliminary results showed that most people needed significant levels of vitamin D supplements. to reach this level. 51% of participants needed 5,000 to 8,000 international units (IU), which is 10 times more (or more) than the current recommended daily dose of 600 IU. And 14.6% of participants needed 10,000 IU or more to achieve optimal vitamin D levels.
Additionally, it took time for participants to reach their target vitamin D level. Less than 65% of participants reached the level within three months, and 25% required six months of intervention to reach the level. The results indicate that higher doses of vitamin D are needed to reach therapeutic levels in this group.
Dr. Chen notes that there are several proposed mechanisms by which vitamin D may contribute to cardiovascular health. Some experts believe that “vitamin D receptors on cells of the vascular system are involved in inflammation of blood vessels, which in turn could promote heart disease,” Chen added.
If the current study “shows that achieving a vitamin D level of [más de] 40 ng/mL reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events, “Doctors should be more proactive in testing and treating low vitamin D levels.” said study author Dr. Heidi May, a cardiovascular epidemiologist at Intermountain Health.
Where is vitamin D found?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for health . Helps the body absorb calcium, one of the main substances necessary for strong bones, helps prevent osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones. Additionally, muscles need it to move and nerves use it to transmit messages between the brain and other parts of the body.
Most vitamin D is produced by the body when ultraviolet rays reach the skin. . The vitamin is then stored in the body’s fat cells.
However, low sun exposure or excessive use of sunscreen, warm clothing and low consumption of fatty foods due to their high cholesterol content put us at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency.
In most people, short-term vitamin D deficiency does not cause serious symptoms, although chronic deficiencies can cause hypocalcemia (a disease caused by calcium deficiency) or hyperparathyroidism, in which the parathyroid glands create a hormonal imbalance, according to Medical News Today.
These conditions can lead to bone fragility and osteoporosis; bone pain; muscle spasms, weakness and pain; fatigue and joint stiffness.
Additionally, excess body fat, such as being overweight or obese, are also risk factors. And people with darker skin have more melanin, so less ultraviolet light is absorbed to create vitamin D, according to UCLA Health .
One study found that in summer, with only 25% of the body exposed to sunlight, eight to ten minutes of midday sun produces the recommended amount of vitamin D. But in winter, with 10% of the body exposed due to the cold. high temperatures, it takes nearly two hours of midday sun exposure to produce enough vitamin D, note New York Post.
How to prevent its removal?
In case of insufficiency or deficiency, the doctor will advise you on the appropriate treatment to normalize these levels. As a preventative measure, it is important that foods rich in this vitamin are included in the diet such as dairy products enriched with vitamin D-
To get vitamin D from food, you can consume:
- Oily fish, such as salmon.
- Liver pate.
- Other foods fortified with vitamin D
What are good vitamin D levels?
A person is considered to have sufficient levels of vitamin D when at 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) in the blood . Between 30 and 20 (ng/mL) is already considered an insufficient level, and below 20 (ng/mL) is a deficit.
If symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, bone pain, recurrent fractures, mood changes or immune weakness are experienced, a possible deficiency is suggested.
Additionally, if there are risk factors, such as living in places where solar radiation reaches little, or if they lead a sedentary life without exposure to the sun during the day, It is important to check the levels of this vitamin.
Enrichment of milk with vitamin D
One way to reduce vitamin D deficiency is to artificially fortify certain foods. In 2022, the Minsal announced that will enrich liquid milk with vitamin D and powder, as well as beverages of plant origin for alternative use to milk, and flours as raw materials, both for domestically produced foods and for imported foods from 2024, in order to ensure that all Chileans have adequate levels of this micronutrient.
In July the Decree 48 which modifies the Food Sanitary Regulations in favor of vitamin D enrichment, which will come into force on July 6, 2024.
The aim of the standard is that certain foods, such as milk, flour, cereals and vegetable oils are enriched with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D.
This measure, would allow more than 90% of the population to be protected from a severe deficit and would increase overall vitamin D levels in the population.
I am David Jack and I have been working in the news industry for over 10 years. As an experienced journalist, I specialize in covering sports news with a focus on golf. My articles have been published by some of the most respected publications in the world including The New York Times and Sports Illustrated.