The Need for More Vitamin D

dentist in Springfield, OR

Your dentist in Springfield, OR knows that getting enough sunlight this time of year can be challenging for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest. A lack of sunlight can have a number of effects on our health, including Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in helping promote strong, healthy bones and teeth. But most people simply don’t receive enough vitamin D through their diet to offset what little sunlight they receive. This has led researchers to warn that we need to triple our daily vitamin D intake in order to maintain healthier bodies.

The new recommendation, made the Science Advisory Committee on Nutrition, comes after an exhausted five-year review which revealed that 20 percent of people living in the UK suffer from vitamin D deficiency.

A Need for More Vitamin D

The human body creates most of its vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin but we also create a small amount of from some foods we consume, namely fish oil, eggs and foods that contain added vitamin D, such as some brands of fat spreads and cereals.

Vitamin D plays a vital role in the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which we need to maintain healthy teeth and bones. A lack of vitamin D can lead to a number of serious conditions that include rickets in kids and osteomalacia in adults, a condition that causes bones to weaken and, in some instances, become deformed. Other diseases such as cancer and diabetes have also been linked to low vitamin D levels but the evidence isn’t as strong.

The review, conducted by researchers at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Oncology and Metabolism, concluded that in order to protect muscle and bone health, everyone over the age of 1 needs at least 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily.

Individuals at the greatest risk of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Those who don’t spend much time outdoors, such as the elderly
  • Ethnic groups with darker skin, which fails to make vitamin D as easily
  • Those who cover their skin for cultural or religious reasons
  • People with occupations with limited sunlight exposure – such those working the night shift

Researchers hope that if this new recommendation is followed that people in the UK and across the world will reduce their risk of bone disease.

The review concluded that protecting bone and muscle health requires achieving a blood concentration of vitamin D of 25nmol/L all year round.

Until recently, it was believed that daily sunlight exposure would provide all of the vitamin D production need for most people throughout the year. However, researchers now know that assumption is no longer true because about 20 percent of the UK population suffers from a vitamin D deficiency.

Since the Pacific Northwest shares a very similar climate with the UK, it only stands to reasons that many of our patients may also be at risk of a vitamin D deficiency. Your dentist in Springfield, OR wants to keep our patients educated about potential risk factors that could impact their oral and overall health.

There are very few foods that contain enough vitamin D to help offset the deficiency a lack of sunlight causes in the body. This makes it important to include a variety of oily fish (such as sardines, salmon and tuna), eggs and certain types of fortified food to our diets.