People at High Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency

We obtain vitamin D from natural foods or by being exposed to the sun. For many people, even these two sources are not sufficient and they may have to consume dietary supplements to meet their daily requirement of vitamin D. The people at risk of vitamin D deficiency are:

Individuals with Dark Skin

People with dark skin tone have high level of melanin pigment in the epidermal layer, which acts as a natural sunscreen and reduces the skin synthesis of vitamin D from sunlight. Studies have demonstrated that people with dark skin were consistently diagnosed with lower serum levels of vitamin D as compared to the people identified as white. Ingesting supplements provides them with adequate vitamin D.

Breastfed Infants

Infants meet their vitamin D requirements from their mother’s milk, and it is hard to meet their daily vitamin D needs through milk alone. Babies are at higher risk if their mother has low vitamin D levels. Mothers should supplement with higher doses of vitamin D so that the levels of this nutrient in the milk are high enough to meet the baby’s needs. The American Association of Pediatrics states that the infants should be kept away from direct sunlight. The AAP recommends 400 IU of vitamin D supplements per day for infants.

People with Limited Sun Exposure

People who spend most of their time inside the house, women who cover their whole body for religious reasons and people who spend most of their day in office are very unlikely to receive sufficient vitamin D from the sun. Certain individuals deliberately avoid sunlight for cosmetic and health reasons. Therefore such people must obtain adequate amount of vitamin D from their food or supplements.

Older Adults

As people get older, their skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D decreases, and they tend to spend more time indoors. That’s why older adults are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Individuals with Fat malabsorption

We all know that vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. It needs some dietary fat in the intestine in order to be absorbed properly. People with lower ability to absorb fat from the food may have to depend upon vitamin D supplements, simply because vitamin D absorption will be low when the fat absorption is low. Malabsorption of fat is caused due to certain diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

Obese Individuals

People with excess body fat (body mass index ≥30) have low blood levels of vitamin D when compared with the individuals having normal body weight. Obesity has nothing to do with the skin’s vitamin D synthesis capacity, but higher amount of fat keeps more vitamin D bound with itself and doesn’t release vitamin in the circulation easily. Even gastric bypass surgery makes the individual vitamin D deficient. It’s because the part of intestine where this vitamin is absorbed is bypassed and vitamin D in fat stores cannot maintain constant supply in the long run. Such people should regularly take vitamin D supplements.




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