Additionally, vitamin D helps the parathyroid glands balance calcium levels in the blood. The parathyroid gland is constantly communicating between the kidneys, gut, and skeletal structure to ensure that our bodies are properly absorbing and using calcium efficiently. The Cleveland Clinic explains that when this balance is thrown off due to insufficient nutrients bone loss may occur, "When there is sufficient calcium in the diet and sufficient active Vitamin D, dietary calcium is absorbed and put to good use throughout the body. If calcium intake is insufficient, or vitamin D is low, the parathyroid glands will ‘borrow’ calcium from the skeleton in order to keep the blood calcium in the normal range."
When we don't get enough vitamin D either through vitamin d supplements, diet, or sunlight, a vitamin D deficiency can occur that may negatively impact bone health. Low vitamin D levels are most commonly seen in very young children, pregnant women, those over the age of 65, and those on a strict vegan diet and may lead to certain health conditions, including osteoporosis. In one study, German researchers discovered that "vitamin-D deficiency increases both the start and spread of bone fractures by up to 31 percent." Children that don't get enough vitamin D can develop rickets, a disease that causes "bone weakness, bowed legs, and other skeletal deformities, such as stooped posture." Adults can develop a similar disease called Osteomalacia, which causes decreased mineralization in the bones and similar symptoms as rickets.
The National Institutes of Health recommends different daily dose levels of vitamin D depending on your age:
- Birth to 12 months: 400 International Units (IU)
- Children and teens: 600 IU
- Adults 19–70 years: 600 IU
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU
- Adults 71 years and older: 800 IU
We have these reported in International Units, to convert, multiply the IU 0.025 to see the value as mcg. Try adding some of these vitamin D-rich foods to your diet:
- fatty fish (salmon, cod, tuna, etc.)
- dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.)