Proper absorption of vitamin D enables the body to absorb calcium, fight infection, and keep the nervous system and muscles working properly.
The most natural and direct way to obtain vitamin D naturally is through exposure to sunlight, but people tend not to get enough sunlight to produce adequate amounts, so most doctors recommend eating some foods that help get the sun vitamin.
However, some people have more difficulty absorbing vitamin D than others, and some medical conditions may make it difficult to absorb vitamin D from food.
This is a problem because “not getting enough vitamin D puts the risk of bone fractures, osteoporosis and muscle weakness,” says Melissa Burst, a registered dietitian in the Chicago area and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
How does your body absorb vitamin D?
How vitamin D is absorbed depends on whether you get it from food or from sunlight:
Food / nutritional supplementsAfter you eat or take vitamin D supplements, your body stores it in fat cells until needed. At this point, the liver and kidneys convert the stored vitamin D into the active form the body needs, known as calcitriol, through a process called hydroxylation.
-Sun light: The body’s process of making vitamin D works similarly after exposure to the sun. The main difference is that the sun first releases a type of cholesterol that is found in the body called 7-dihydrocholesterol.
This starts in the process of producing and transporting vitamin D as it travels to the liver and kidneys, much like after eating foods that contain vitamin D.
However, not everyone can easily get or absorb vitamin D.
Why don’t some people absorb enough vitamin D?
There are several reasons why people may have difficulty absorbing vitamin D. Some factors that may reduce or prevent its absorption include:
1- Conditions such as celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, Crohn’s disease and cystic fibrosis. All of them can affect the intestine, preventing it from absorbing vitamin D from food.
2- Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 30: It can trap body fat under the skin, or trap vitamin D, which is why vitamin D deficiency is a greater concern for obese people.
3- Liver or kidney disease: Both diseases can negatively affect how the body processes vitamin D. Kidney disease may make it difficult to process vitamin D into its active form, calcitriol, which is used throughout the body. Some liver diseases cause problems with absorbing fats, which makes absorbing vitamin D more difficult.
4- Radiation therapy: This type of cancer treatment can make it difficult for the intestine to absorb vitamin D.
5- Weight loss surgery: These procedures reduce the size of the stomach or bypass part of the small intestine, which makes it difficult for the body to consume adequate levels of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin (D).
Antoinette Hardy, a registered dietitian at the Comprehensive Transplant Center at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, says that some medications can also affect or block vitamin D absorption, and include oral steroids and orlistat (a weight-loss drug). And diuretics.
Some symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include general fatigue, muscle pain, mood changes and bone pain.
If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, ask your doctor to have your blood tested. There are also home tests that require a finger prick of a very small blood sample.
How to improve vitamin D absorption
If you have problems absorbing vitamin D, Burst says you can try eating fatty and / or magnesium-rich foods. And since vitamin D is fat-soluble, taking it with fatty foods can help the body absorb it and store it for future use.
Burst notes that greasy foods that also contain high levels of vitamin D are ideal. They include:
Cold-water fish, such as salmon
Milk fortified with Vitamin D and high-fat dairy products
The combination of vitamin D and magnesium may also help increase absorption. Foods naturally rich in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, almonds, and avocados.
Although it is best to try to get vitamin D from whole foods, there may be times when it is advisable to use a prescription supplement to avoid the risk of vitamin D toxicity.
Source: Business Insider