News & Blogs
June 16 2020

Vitamin D Deficiency: A Health Risk You Face When Staying Indoors for Too Long


 
When the heat of the summer is too hot to handle, or torrential rains are causing floods and calamities in an area, the most common advice people hear from authorities is to stay home. Too much exposure to either sun or rainfall can cause sickness or compromise someone’s well-being.

Even now, as the nation fights the COVID-19 pandemic, the order is to stay home, along with quarantine  measures that have been put in place. This helps stop the spread of the contagious disease and take the load off medical workers who are swamped with patients in the frontlines.

However, while staying home is the best way to stay away from the virus, there is still a potential drawback from it: Vitamin D Deficiency.



Why It’s Important to Have Adequate Vitamin D 
Adequate vitamin D levels in adults are measured at 600 IU (international units) or between 50 to 125 nmol/l (nanomoles/liter). Anything less can lead to a host of uncomfortable symptoms, such as the following:
 
  • Fatigue and tiredness – Self-reported fatigue is a common cause of vitamin D deficiency, yet many people do not realize their correlation. Findings show that the energy levels of women with vitamin D deficiency increased after they took supplements.
 
  • Frequent sickness – Always getting sick? A common underlying issue would be a compromised immune system. Vitamin D helps in strengthening the immune system, thus lessening the chances of acquiring infectious diseases like colds or flu. Studies show a link between vitamin D deficiency and respiratory infections.
 
  • Bone and back pain – One of the most apparent functions of vitamin D is to assist the body in absorbing calcium and maintaining phosphorus levels in the blood. These are essential nutrients in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Therefore, if one lacks vitamin D in the body, their bones may weaken and turn brittle over time. It can also manifest as osteoporosis.
 
  • Depressed moods – Not getting enough sunlight can lead to seasonal depression, which is commonly seen in areas with colder temperatures. Going outside to get some sun is an excellent way to keep mental and emotional states stable.
 
In a study, persons who were suffering from depression were given vitamin D supplements to manage their symptoms. A significant number of participants felt a difference in their disposition.
 
  • Slow-healing wounds – Impaired wound healing after a surgery or injury could also be a sign of low vitamin D levels. Vitamin D aids in the production of new skin; wound-healing is also boosted.
 
As such, a deficiency could indicate high levels of inflammatory markers that could slow down recovery in some people, especially if they have underlying conditions such as diabetes.
 
Getting Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency 
Thankfully, there are a few tried-and-tested ways to get one’s vitamin D levels back to normal, assuming that there are no serious complications experienced yet. Here are some of them:
 
  • Sun exposure – Catching some rays at noontime may not be entirely possible for some people. However, exposure does not have to be too complicated. Going out to play with a pet in the garage, sitting beside the window with sunshine, and getting fresh air from the terrace are some simple ways to be exposed to the sun. Ideally, you can do this at midday for 10 to 30 minutes.
 
  • Vitamin D-rich foods – Having a healthy, balanced diet can do wonders for the body. Make sure daily meals include food that is rich in vitamin D, such as fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, and salmon), dairy products like cheese, orange juice, soy milk, and egg yolks. However, remember to have vegetables, fruits, and other food groups, as well.
 
  • Vitamin D supplements – If the above solutions are tricky to do, the fastest way to address the deficiency is to take vitamin D in tablet form. Taking it once a day at a minimum of 400-800 IU or 10-20 micrograms will be enough for one’s daily nutrient needs. These are widely available over the counter in pharmacies.
 
Getting a blood test done is the most common way to check if a person has vitamin D deficiency. If they are feeling any of the symptoms stated above, it is wise not to self-diagnose and instead visit a doctor at the nearest health facility for proper assessment and testing.
 
Is There Such A Thing as Having Too Much Vitamin D?
At this time when everyone is advised to stay indoors, people may be tempted to exhaust all possible measures to ensure good health. However, too much of a good thing is also bad.
 
Having excessive levels of vitamin D is called vitamin D toxicity, which is also bad for health. It could cause a buildup of calcium in the blood, leading to nausea, vomiting, and weakness. In severe cases, it could result in kidney problems, such as the formation of stones. The key here is balance: have just enough vitamin D. Taking too many supplements can pose a significant risk.
 
Staying too long in the sun is not required, as it can lead to skin conditions like heat rashes, skin asthma, or other allergic reactions, and in extreme cases, even cancer. Remember to hydrate when it is too hot, and avoid doing strenuous activities under the harsh heat of the sun.
 
Don’t Disregard the Sunshine Vitamin
Educating one’s self with all possible health risks is a smart move as the world continues to shift towards new living conditions due to the pandemic.
 
It is important to continue staying healthy at this time. If someone is suspected of having health emergencies or serious problems related to Vitamin D deficiency, do not hesitate to bring them to a hospital for a checkup. Makati Medical Center is equipped to handle a wide range of healthcare needs.