Fight Vitamin D Deficiency with Food
Iron deficiency and vitamin D deficiency are common in the United States but both are preventable and reversible with the right lifestyle and eating choices.
Iron is found in all your cells. Your body uses it to create the protein hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in your blood. When you don’t have enough hemoglobin in your blood, you have iron deficiency anemia. Iron also helps with the storage and use of oxygen in your muscles.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world. More than 2 billion people (30% of the world population) are anemic. It affects developed nations as well as less developed countries.1
It’s considered a public health condition of epidemic proportions.
Signs you may be iron deficient…
- Problems with brain cognition
- Feeling out of breath
- Extremely pale skin
- Unexplained muscle pain
- Lower endurance during normal activities
- Lack of interest or changes in mood
- Increased incidence of infection or illness2
Vitamin D deficiency is another growing problem in developed nations specifically. A 2010 study published in Nutrition Journal from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that approximately 42% of American adults and 12% of American children don’t have enough vitamin D.3
Your body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium, regulate calcium and phosphate levels, manage bone and cell growth, and lowering inflammation.
The authors of the study explained, “Mounting evidence suggests that vitamin D deficiency could be linked to several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Linked to some of the important risk factors of leading causes of death in the United States, it is important that health professionals are aware of this connection and offer dietary and other intervention strategies.”
Signs you may be vitamin D deficient…
- Problems with brain cognition
- Unexplained bone pain
- Greater risk of fractures
- Weakness of muscles or bones
- Depression or changes in mood
- Increased incidence of infection or illness4
You can turn these deficiencies (and the way they make you feel) around with lifestyle and diet changes. Iron is best absorbed through the food you eat. Given the right compounds, your body will know exactly what to do with them!
Boost Your Iron and Vitamin D Naturally
- Fatty fish (mackerel, wild-caught salmon, tuna)
- Beef, chicken, turkey, and pork (organic varieties offer more nutrition)
- Cheese (from grass-fed cows)
- Beans (kidney, navy, black, pintos, lentils)
- Eggs (including the yolk)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Fish oils
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli)
- Milk, yogurt, and orange juice are often fortified with vitamin D5
Sunshine is Bursting with Vitamin D
Responsible sun exposure (never, ever burn your skin) is the single best way to fight vitamin D deficiency. Every day, spend 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen.
Once you get your daily requirement, consider using a natural sunscreen that protects you but doesn’t make you sensitive to sunlight (this is a real thing with chemical sunscreens). With summer fast approaching, most people coat their skin in sunscreen and block their body’s ability to manufacture enough vitamin D.
However, if you have darkly pigmented skin, have breast-fed for a long time, live in a cold or very rainy location, or are obese, your body is going to have trouble producing enough vitamin D even with sunlight.
Iron is easy to obtain (and best absorbed) through food. Treating vitamin D deficiency may require taking a supplement. Eat your way to good health and boost your body’s natural defenses against vitamin D deficiency by changing your diet (gradually, if that’s what it takes).
You’re going to love the way getting what you need makes you feel.
1 World Health Organization: The Global Prevalence of Anaemia in 2011 (PDF)
2 Women’s Health: 10 Signs You Have an Iron Deficiency
3 Department of Public Health & Social Work, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania: Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults.
4 Healthline: 8 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
5 SF Gate: A Diet for Someone With Low Iron & Vitamin D