All fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body. According to the New York State Department of Health, vitamin D is stored in the fat in your body.
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Many people don’t get enough vitamin D, mainly because of all of the warnings about spending time in the sun without sunscreen. It is very important to note that while long term exposure to the sun can result in skin problems, and even skin cancer, short term daily exposure of around 10 minutes a day can be healthy and beneficial to the body.
The great thing about the fact that vitamin D is stored in the body is the fact that if you go a few days without exposure to sunlight you will still have enough vitamin D to remain healthy. While you want to restore those stores for future use, you don’t have to start taking supplement simply because you cannot spend every single day in the sun. In fact, vitamin D stored in the body can last between 30 to 60 days if you spend 10 minutes a day in the sun during summer months!
What are the benefits of vitamin D?
Vitamin D is good for bone health and it aids the body in absorbing calcium. Of course, everyone knows that it is healthy calcium levels that lead to strong bones, which is why vitamin D is good for bone health.
Vitamin D has been attributed to providing further benefits. However, there are no studies to support the use of vitamin D for anything other than the absorption of calcium. Often, vitamin D is prescribed to individuals who have difficulty absorbing calcium.
Some of the unproven benefits of vitamin D include:
- Protection against colon cancer
- Improving the symptoms of autoimmune disorders
- Lowering blood pressure
Can I get too much vitamin D?
Here is where things get interesting. If you are taking vitamin D supplements, you should not exceed more than 600 IU per day if you are an adult. The reason for this is that toxicities can occur from high doses of vitamin D supplements.
If, however, you get your vitamin D from the sun or from the foods that you eat, there is no risk of overdose. When you get your vitamin D naturally, the body does not react negatively to it, no matter how much you get.
You could literally spend 5 hours a day unprotected in the sun everyday and never overdose on vitamin D. You might develop skin cancer and your skin may look like garbage, but the vitamin D absorbed through the skin will simply store away until you need it. Once your body cannot store anymore, the body stops absorbing it.
What are some of the symptoms of too much vitamin D?
Some of the symptoms of too much vitamin D include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Increase of blood calcium levels
In extreme cases of vitamin D overdose, death may occur. This is more a problem for younger children, but it can happen to adults as well.
Am I at risk for a vitamin D deficiency?
As mentioned above, it is easy to get the vitamin D that you need. There are a lot of people who don’t get enough, however, who suffer from a deficiency. There are many reasons why you may be vitamin D deficient.
Once you turn 70 your body does not absorb or distribute vitamin D correctly, it is for this reason that an increased dose is recommended at this age. It may seem odd, but darker skin sometimes does not absorb ultraviolet B light, which is the part of the sun’s rays that provide the vitamin D. This is not the case for all people with dark skin, but it is not an uncommon problem.
You may not get enough sun. This could be because you live in a colder climate that doesn’t get a lot of sun or because for religious reasons you cover your body. No matter what the reason, if your skin isn’t exposed to sunlight, then it can’t absorb the sun’s rays.
There is no known reason for this, but some obese people just don’t store vitamin D. In addition, if you have diabetes, this can interfere with the absorption process.
What happens if I am vitamin D deficient?
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements National Institutes of Health, a lack of vitamin D can lead to muscle weakness and bone pain. In children, rickets can become an issue.
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