What is Vitamin D?
Also denoted as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is synthesized by the body through sun exposure, food, and supplements.
The nonprofit organization, Vitamin D Council, recommends exposing as much skin as possible to the sun. People with higher melanin in the skin produce less vitamin D as less ultraviolet B enters the skin. Meanwhile, those with paler skin efficiently produce vitamin D.
During the winter season, less vitamin D may be produced because of limited sun exposure, which is best during midday.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D has plenty of potential benefits. It aids in reducing the risk of influenza or flu by 40 percent. Moreover, it lessens types 1 diabetes by 88 percent. In addition, it reduces the chances of preeclampsia in pregnant women, and cancer progression.
The “vitamin” is a group of secosteroids or fat-soluble steroids. It lowers the stiffness of the arterial wall in children. Because of this, it lessens the risk and severity of atopic childhood illnesses like asthma, dermatitis, and eczema.
Vitamin D also encourages the intestinal absorption of calcium in the blood, bones, and the stomach. It supports proper cell communication in the body and helps fight infection. In addition, it corrects muscle and cardiovascular functions, the respiratory system, as well as, brain development.
Evidence has also shown that vitamin D mediates calcium absorption and mineral homeostasis, regulating musculoskeletal health. The health of the musculoskeletal is vital to oral health as conditions of the musculature and skeleton are linked to the oral cavity. Some musculoskeletal system diseases encompass the oral cavity in their disease process.
Also, medications utilized to treat musculature and skeleton disorders can increase the likelihood of oral-related problems. Musculoskeletal conditions can also make dental care difficult for people, which can lead to inadequate dental hygiene.
Vitamin D was also found to reduce the risk of early childhood caries or bottle rot in children under three years old whose mother had adequate levels of vitamin D during her pregnancy. ECC is characterized by the presence of one or more decayed, missing, or filled tooth in any baby tooth of a child from birth up to 71 months.
Studies have also claimed that vitamin D, along with calcium and proper dental care, may improve tooth retention and prevent dental caries.
Vitamin D Deficiency: What You Need To Know
However, the “sunshine vitamin” is usually not given adequate attention and importance, which results in vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency, which is also known as hypovitaminosis D, means that the body does not have enough vitamin D in its system to supplement its needs.
The recommended amounts of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) for people one to 70 years old and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Meanwhile, for adults older than 70, 800 IU is advised. For babies from birth until 12 months old, 400 IU is recommended.
Vitamin D deficiency is caused by inadequate vitamin D in the diet. Other factors that lead to it include lack of or insufficient sun exposure, malabsorption problem, problems in the liver or kidney which impair the conversion of vitamin D to its active form, or medication which interfere with the body’s ability to absorb or convert the prohormone.
The common indications of vitamin D deficiency are:
- being sickly, fatigue and tiredness
- bone and back pain
- impaired wound healing
- bone and hair loss
- muscle pain
Vitamin D deficiency is easy to diagnose. Aside from being wary of its symptoms, a blood test can also help detect if you have an inadequate level of vitamin D. Although there are two tests you could take namely 1,25(OH)2D and 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the latter is preferred because it is the most accurate measure of the vitamin D in the body.
But, researchers at McMaster University has also found another method to diagnose vitamin deficiency — dental X-rays.
How Dental X-Rays Detect Vitamin D Deficiency
According to the study issued in the International Journal of Paleopathology, the teeth hold a permanent detailed record of severe vitamin D deficiency. The record comes in the form of microscopic deformities in the dentin which is then preserved by the enamel.
Instead of cutting open a tooth to read the patterns of vitamin D, anthropologists Megan Brickley and Lori D’Ortenzio used dental X-rays to observe vitamin D deficiency through the tooth’s “pulp horns.”
According to their finding, the shape of the pulp in a healthy person’s tooth is arch-like topped by two cat ears. Meanwhile, a person with severe vitamin D deficiency is irregular and constricted and was likened to a hard-backed chair.
Through the finding, diagnosing vitamin D deficiency and identifying people who may have an insufficient amount of the prohormone can be easy and helpful in preventing worse damage.
Addressing vitamin D deficiency is simple. Here are some ways:
- increase sun exposure
- up consumption of vitamin D-rich foods or take a supplement
However, the problem lies in its diagnosis as, often, people are unaware they have it. Signs and symptoms are subtle and difficult to differentiate from other conditions.
Talk to your doctor to know more about vitamin D deficiency and what you can do about it.