As a high school or college female athlete, you need strong bones to participate in your sport of interest.
Vitamin D refers to a group of fat-soluble sec steroids responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol).
As expressed by Mary Anne Dunkin at webmd.com, “If you shun the sun, suffer from milk allergies, or adhere to a strict vegan diet, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods — including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks — and in fortified dairy and grain products.[adToAppearHere]
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, because it helps the body use calcium from the diet. Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. But increasingly, research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems.”
Evidence indicates the synthesis of vitamin D from sun exposure is regulated by a negative feedback loop that prevents toxicity, but because of uncertainty about the cancer risk from sunlight, no recommendations are issued by the Institute of Medicine (US), for the amount of sun exposure required to meet vitamin D requirements.
This is very important.
Accordingly, the Dietary Reference Intake for vitamin D assumes no synthesis occurs and all of a person’s vitamin D is from food intake, although that will rarely occur in practice.
As vitamin D is synthesized in adequate amounts by most mammals exposed to sunlight, it is not strictly a vitamin, and may be considered a hormone as its synthesis and activity occur in different locations. Vitamin D has a significant role in calcium homeostasis and metabolism. Its discovery was due to effort to find the dietary substance lacking in rickets (the childhood form of osteomalacia).
That was sound information from Wikipedia.[adToAppearHere]
According to Dr. Mercola at mercola.com, “Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common in the US, but many Americans mistakenly believe they aren’t at risk because they consume vitamin-D-fortified foods (such as milk).”
The article also sites, “according to one of the leading vitamin D researchers, Dr. Michael Holick:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 32 percent of children and adults throughout the US were vitamin D deficient — and this is grossly underestimated as they used vitamin D levels that were not consistent with optimal health.
- The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 50 percent of children aged one to five years, and 70 percent of children between the ages of six and 11, are deficient or insufficient in vitamin D
- Researchers such as Dr. Holick estimate that 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency
Here are some signs that you might be deficient in this important Vitamin.
- You Have Darker Skin
If you have dark skin, you may need as much as 10 times more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a person with pale skin.
As Dr. Holick explained, your skin pigment acts as a natural sunscreen, so the more pigment you have, the more time you’ll need to spend in the sun to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.
- You Feel “Blue”
Serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, rises with exposure to bright light and falls with decreased sun exposure. In 2006, scientists evaluated the effects of vitamin D on the mental health of 80 elderly patients and found those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy doses.3
- You’re 50 or Older
As mentioned, as you get older your skin doesn’t make as much vitamin D in response to sun exposure. At the same time, your kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D into the form used by your body and older adults tend to spend more time indoors (i.e. getting even less sun exposure and therefore vitamin D).
- You’re Overweight or Obese (or Have a Higher Muscle Mass)
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble, hormone-like vitamin, which means body fat acts as a “sink” by collecting it. If you’re overweight or obese, you’re therefore likely going to need more vitamin D than a slimmer person — and the same holds true for people with higher body weights due to muscle mass.
- Your Bones Ache
According to Dr. Holick, many who see their doctor for aches and pains, especially in combination with fatigue, end up being misdiagnosed as having fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
“Many of these symptoms are classic signs of vitamin D deficiency osteomalacia, which is different from the vitamin D deficiency that causes osteoporosis in adults,” he says. “What’s happening is that the vitamin D deficiency causes a defect in putting calcium into the collagen matrix into your skeleton. As a result, you have throbbing, aching bone pain.”
- Head Sweating
According to Dr. Holick, one of the first, classic signs of vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head. In fact, physicians used to ask new mothers about head sweating in their newborns for this very reason. Excessive sweating in newborns due to neuromuscular irritability is still described as a common, early symptom of vitamin D deficiency.4
- You Have Gut Trouble
Remember, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means if you have a gastrointestinal condition that affects your ability to absorb fat, you may have lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D as well. This includes gut conditions like Crohn’s, celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and inflammatory bowel disease.
That is very helpful to know.
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Sources: brainyquote.com, Wikipedia, fciwomenswrestling.com, fciwomenswrestling2.com, FCI Elite Competitor, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.
Mary Anne Dunkin at webmd.com, Reviewed by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD on May 24, 2014