Vitamin D is important for health. Deficiency can be prevented. But be careful: an artificial excess can also be harmful.
Frankfurt – Especially in the darker months of the year, when the weather is wet and cold and uncomfortable, only a few people drive outside. Working at home in times of the corona pandemic also means that fewer and fewer people are coming out. This is especially problematic for health. Because the human body needs sunlight, among other things, to produce an important vitamin: Vitamin D. It is extremely important for humans, because it regulates the phosphate and calcium metabolism and therefore contributes to the hardening of the bones. Vitamin D also promotes a functioning immune system * and affects muscle strength.
Vitamin D deficiency can therefore be bad for your health. As the Ärztezeitung summarizes, the list of diseases that may be related to the deficiency is getting longer and longer. It includes diseases such as susceptibility to infection, muscle weakness, heart attack, diabetes, rheumatism, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. But when is there a shortage and what should be done about it?
Vitamin D: Prevent Deficiency Without Pills And Co.
According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), there is a deficiency when the serum concentration of the marker 25-hydroxyvitamin-D is below 30 nanomoles per liter of serum. This type of deficit is not the case with the majority of the population in Germany. However, almost 60 percent of Germans do not reach the best possible blood concentration of 50 nanomoles per liter of serum, emphasizes the specialist society. As a result, this means that more than half of the potential of vitamin D for health is not fully utilized. However, according to experts, pills and dietary supplements are not necessarily recommended for healthy people. Because the formation of the vitamin can be promoted through an adapted lifestyle and target diet.
|Duration of exposure to sunlight for skin types I / II||Duration of sunlight exposure to skin type III|
|March to May: 10-20 minutes||March to May: 15-25 minutes|
|June to August: 5-10 minutes||June to August: 10-15 minutes|
|September to October: 10-20 minutes||September to October: 15-25 minutes|
|Source: German Nutrition Society (DGE)|
Sunlight on the skin can be enough for the body to produce the necessary amount of vitamin D. However, how much of this important vitamin is actually produced depends on factors such as the time of year, the weather, clothing and skin type. Therefore, the tips of the DGE can only be understood as orientation values. Between March and May, about ten to 25 minutes of sunbathing is sufficient in Germany, depending on skin type. About a quarter of the body surface should be exposed to sunlight, such as part of the arms and legs, such as the hands and face. For skin types one and two, the skin type mentioned in the table refers to “light to very light skin color, light red as blonde hair and blue as green eyes”. Skin type three is “medium skin color, dark hair and brown eyes”.
Vitamin D deficiency: in which foods the concentration is highest
However, these guide values only apply to the period between March and October. But what is the best way to behave in the dark season? Of course, it also helps to sit in the sun during the winter, but because the angle of incidence of the sun’s rays is very flat, it does not necessarily give a significant production of the vitamin, as the “Ärztezeitung” reports. The good thing about vitamin D is that it can be stored in the body. So if you build up a supply of the vitamin in the summer, you can feed it in the colder and less sunny months.
|Food||Vitamin D (micrograms per 100 grams)|
|Chicken egg yolk||5.60|
|Total chicken egg||2.90|
|Goudakäse, 45% F. i. Tr.||1.30|
|Source: BfR based on Souci / Fach / Kraut, 2008|
But the right diet can also help increase vitamin D levels. The concentration of this important vitamin is greatest in fatty fish such as herring and salmon. Eggs also have a remarkable concentration. Various mushrooms and liver are also recommended. However, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) emphasizes, for example, that the intake of vitamin D through the diet plays only a minor role. The focus is still on the body’s own production of sunlight.
Overdose of vitamin D? Too much of the vitamin can be harmful to health
There are not only pills and preparations containing vitamin D, some foods are now fortified with vitamin D. However, taking such supplements is explicitly only recommended if there is a proven vitamin D deficiency and an improvement in the level cannot be caused by food or exposure to sun, the BfR emphasizes. And there is a simple reason for that.
In addition to numerous studies, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has now also recognized the link between a vitamin D deficiency and the risk of a severe Covid-19 course. *
Because an excess of vitamin D can have a negative impact on health. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warns: “With a regular daily intake of more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D, which is currently only possible due to excessive intake of vitamin D preparations with normal eating habits, adverse effects such as exercise of kidney stones or renal calcification may occur. However, for medical reasons higher levels of vitamin D may be medically indicated. “
Vitamin D deficiency and risk groups: as experts pills and co
However, some groups of people belong to the risk groups for a deficiency of vitamin D. This includes, for example, people who can only spend a little time outside for health or other reasons (for example due to illness). Also people who for cultural or religious reasons only leave the house with a body completely covered with clothes as well as people with dark skin color, according to the BfR. Elderly people also belong to the risk group, because the formation of vitamin D in the body decreases with age. In addition to older people, very young people also belong to the risk group. Because babies receive only a very small supply of the vitamin through their breast milk and should be spared from direct sunlight as far as possible.
A vitamin D supplement is recommended for these risk groups. However, only if a deficiency is found in these and the doctor recommends them to improve the vitamin level. (Sophia Lotter) * fr.de is an offering of IPPEN.MEDIA.
“The information provided in this article is not a substitute for a visit to a doctor. Only professionals can make the correct diagnosis and start appropriate therapy. The use of medicines as dietary supplements should be discussed in advance with a physician. “