VITAMIN D | Half of Spaniards have a deficit: what to do to solve it
It not only helps the body absorb calcium, being one of the main substances to prevent osteoporosis (a disease that produces a decrease in bone mass density), but it is essential for the muscles and the immune system.
as the doctor explains Oscar Torregrosapresident of the Valencian Society of Internal Medicine“this vitamin favors the intestinal absorption of calcium from the diet, being essential for proper bone health, in addition to keeping parathormone low, thus avoiding its negative effects on the bone”.
And although some studies consider that it is rather a hormone, since its deficiency is related to autoimmune, allergic, infectious or oncological disorders, it is clear that “it performs endocrine and systemic functions at an extra-osseous level”.
Silvia Torrenta nutritionist at the HM Nou Delfos Hospital in Barcelona, points out that “it is dangerous to have insufficient levels because we are being led to a progressive loss of bone density with the consequence of suffering from osteoporosis and fractures, especially in people over 65 years of age.”
However, according to various studies, more than 50% of the Spanish population has vitamin D deficiency. In the case of the elderly, the percentage reaches a worrying 80% and 62% in pregnant women.
But how can this situation be explained, since our country is one of the sunniest with an average of 2,500 hours of sunshine per year?
Torrents points out that it is due to “low exposure to sunlight, use of sunscreen creams, ultraviolet radiation and low intake of foods rich in vitamin D”. Also because “cutaneous hyperpigmentation (having darker skin color) is also one of the reasons why there is a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency.”
Why is vitamin D important in pregnancy?
During the pregnancythe hypovitaminosis D (deficiency) is related to both maternal and fetal complications. The lack of this vitamin, or hormone, according to some experts, is associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes (which usually appears in the middle of pregnancy), premature birth and low birth weight.
Nevertheless, is even more important in women’s health on the fertile age. “Its deficiency makes it difficult for the embryo to implant and favors polycystic ovary syndrome, a problem that affects between 5% and 10% of women.”
And no less essential in the menopausesince “the correct levels prevent cardiovascular problems, breast cancer, obesity and osteoporosis”.
How to achieve the necessary vitamin D level
The simplest solution that comes to mind for all of us to have the optimal level of vitamin D is to sunbathe. It is a habit that specialists advise practicing throughout the year, but with caution.
“It is enough to be alone for 15 to 30 minutes in the sun, always during the hours when solar radiation is not very high, since, if not, it would pose a risk when it comes to developing severe skin problems.”
For this reason, during the summer, and “if we plan a greater extension of sun exposure, we must take into account the application of a sunscreen to prevent skin cancer.” In winter, it is recommended to sunbathe between 10:00 and 12:00 in the morning.
But it is not a recipe for everyone. The doctor Martha Ortegaa gynecologist at the Hospital HM Nou Delfos, emphasizes that young women “have enough to expose their face and arms to the sun’s rays for 5-15 minutes a day”.
Women over 70 years of age “should stay longer, because skin synthesis is 75% lower”.
In addition, they can also be used vitamin D supplements. Of course, whenever a doctor considers it appropriate. “Supplement whenever sun exposure is insufficient and in patients with cancer, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and other chronic diseases.”
And if you follow the guidelines of a professional, you can also use food supplements. But, the nutritionist warns that “it is a fat-soluble vitamin, so if more than the right amount is ingested, it is not excreted and remains accumulated in fatty tissue, whose storage is unfavorable for health.”
Foods rich in vitamin D
Increasing vitamin D levels through food is not an easy task. There are certain foods that we can include in our diet to maintain an adequate level of this nutrient.
Cod liver oil.
Blue fish (sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon…).
In addition to its intake, sun exposure is essential for a good level of vitamin D and to avoid health problems.