Why Being Deficient in Vitamin D Could Ruin Your Body

Almost half of all Americans are deficient in vitamin D. This shocking statistic was put to health experts who spoke to Newsweek about the importance of vitamin D and how not having enough of it in our bodies can affect our health and future well-being.

Experts have linked low levels of vitamin D to depression, cancer, dementia and Alzheimer's. Data from The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has previously revealed 42 percent of Americans are deficient in the nutrient that is best known as the "sunshine vitamin."

Bridgitte Mallinson, a licensed dietitian, told Newsweek: "Vitamin D does a lot of things in the body like support bone health and mental health. It's also been proven to help mitigate gut issues, and hormone imbalances, and is key for post-menopausal women or those at higher risk for osteoporosis."

The CDC states that vitamin D is essential for nerve functions, as well as bone and muscle health. It is also great for boosting the immune system and fighting bacteria and viruses.

Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

"Vitamin D does many things in the body like support bone and mental health. It's also been proven to help mitigate gut issues, and hormone imbalances, and is key for post-menopausal women or those at higher risk for osteoporosis.

"If you don't have enough, you could experience symptoms like fatigue, depression, autoimmunity, and inflammation. Low vitamin D levels are even associated with seasonal depression, dementia, and Alzheimer's.

"In its extremity, vitamin D deficiencies can lead to a loss of bone density. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, vitamin K helps the body distribute calcium correctly, and magnesium helps with the regulation and activation of both vitamin D and calcium. As we know, calcium is vital to strong bones. When vitamin D is deficient and bone density is low, an individual is at risk for osteoporosis and fractures."

How to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

It is quite easy for people to miss out on sun rays when they are tied up with a busy schedule, but just 15 minutes per day can help boost your vitamin D levels.

He explained: "The most common treatment for vitamin D deficiency is increasing sun exposure and dietary intake. A doctor may also prescribe supplements, depending on the severity of the deficiency. Some foods high in vitamin D include fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, beef liver, cheese and eggs. Many breakfast cereals and dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D."

Low Magnesium Levels Make Vitamin D Ineffective

In 2018, the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association revealed 50 percent of Americans have a magnesium deficiency, which makes vitamin D reserves "stored and inactive."

Mallinson told Newsweek: "Magnesium is critical for the conversion, utilization, and absorption of vitamin D in our bodies. This means that if your body is deficient in magnesium, you have a more difficult time soaking up enough vitamin D. The bioavailability of vitamin D, or the level of vitamin D that can be absorbed in the body, is a function of the levels of magnesium a certain individual has.

"With around 50 percent of Americans deficient in magnesium, it's no wonder that vitamin D deficiency is also creeping up on nearly 50 percent of Americans…So even if you get enough sunlight, if you don't have enough magnesium, your body may not properly absorb and get enough vitamin D.

"I see patients in sunny states like California or Arizona who have vitamin D deficiency, even in the summer. In many cases, it's because there is something else at play that is either blocking or hindering the body from absorbing vitamin D properly. If vitamin D is the car, magnesium is the gas that makes it go."

How to Increase Your Magnesium Levels
Magnesium is required for energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis, according to the National Institute of Health. The mineral can be found in the following plant and animal foods and in beverages like tap and bottled water.

Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are good sources of magnesium. Along with cereals and other fortified foods.