Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D? » Nursing Jobs Blog – Nurses Insights at Nursing

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

October 27th, 2015  |  The Blog

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in five forms, D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5. That said, vitamins D2 and D3 are the most important of the five for the human body.

The Purposes for Vitamin D

Vitamin D has several essential baseline purposes for the body. It helps to regulate calcium and phosphorus absorption in the bones of the body. It also helps the cells of the body to effectively communicate and is essential to strengthen the immune system.

This vitamin is also important for muscle function, respiratory system health, anti-cancer properties, brain health and development and heart health.

Getting Enough Vitamin D

Most people are aware that getting vitamin D from sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B rays, is the most common practice. It is important to note that, according to the Vitamin D Council, “you do not need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D.” There is no specifically prescribed time of sun exposure to achieve the necessary vitamin D level, according to most healthcare experts. Some recommend 10 to 15 minutes in the midday sun with our sunscreen and wearing shorts and a t-shirt. This exposure time gives a person sufficient radiation to produce 10,000 IU of vitamin D. Fair-skinned people need less exposure than dark-skinned people to get adequate vitamin D.

How do we process vitamin D? Solar energy derived from sunlight changes a chemical in the skin to vitamin D3. The vitamin D3 travels to the liver and kidneys where it is transformed into active vitamin D. The body then utilizes the active vitamin D in the ways in which it is meant to help.

How Much Vitamin D Is Needed??

The daily recommended dose of vitamin D is 600 IU for those ages 1 to 70 years old and 800 IU for anyone over 70 years old. The maximum amount of vitamin D that should be taken per day varies between 4,000 to 10,000 IU, depending upon the individual case.

Those at risk of a vitamin D deficiency are:

  • Those over 65 years old, especially women and those who are post-menopausal
  • Pregnant and/or breastfeeding women
  • Patients who are grossly obese
  • Homebound people who do not have enough natural exposure to sunlight
  • Those with a darker skin tone
  • Children under 5 years old
  • Patients with kidney disease

The Study At Hand

In the results of a recent study done on middle-age rats, the human implications are far-reaching. When the rats were fed a diet low in vitamin D for a few months, there were changes noted in their behavior.

The Study Results

After eating a diet low in vitamin D, the rats were found to have developed free radical damage to the brain and changes in learning and memory cognitive function.

There were high levels of brain proteins noted, which added significant nitrosative stress and subsequent cognitive changes in the rats. Nitrosative stress is the result of exposure to high levels of nitric oxide or peroxynitrite, an oxidant.

With the vitamin D deficiency cases on the rise in the US, it is important to heed the effects noted on the brain function, especially in the elderly.

Stay tuned for more in-depth information about vitamin D next week when we explore the facts about too much or too little vitamin D in the system and how to effectively treat a low level.

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