Ensuring and maintaining the required level of vitamin D is important for supporting bone, teeth, muscle, and immune health in children and adults, says an expert at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
Dr Mahmoud Zirie, Senior Consultant and Head of HMC’s Endocrinology and Diabetes Division said, “Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D has been shown to be an important part of overall health as it helps the body to absorb calcium from food. In older adults, a daily dose of vitamin D and calcium helps to prevent fractures and brittle bones. Children need vitamin D to build strong bones and prevent rickets, which causes bowlegs, knock-knees and weak bones.”
He said, that research suggests adequate amounts of vitamin D in the blood can play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.
People commonly at risk of a vitamin D deficiency include those with inadequate sun exposure, limited oral vitamin D intake, or impaired intestinal absorption. “A vitamin D deficiency can occur if someone’s exposure to sunlight is limited. People may be at risk of deficiency if they are homebound, live in northern latitudes, wear long robes or head coverings for religious reasons, or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure.”
“Those with dark skin are also at risk. The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Some studies show that older adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency,” he stated.
“Many people can also be at risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency as they age because their kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form and the digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D,” said Dr Zirie.
He mentioned that certain medical problems, including Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, can affect the intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the food we eat.