There are many health benefits of taking vitamin D, such as a better mood, a strong immune system, and even reducing the severity of asthma attacks. However, while all of these things are important, there is one key issue linked to not getting enough vitamin D: loss of bone density.
As Nicole Avena, Ph.D., assistant professor of neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, told us in a previous article on the health benefits of vitamin D, "one of the major roles [vitamin D] plays is to help maximize the absorption and utilization of calcium, which is an important mineral for our skeletal system and teeth."
In order to get a sufficient amount of vitamin D in a day, people ages 1 to 70 need 600 international units (IU), while people over the age of 70 need 800 IU. Not getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D each day can result in a higher risk of osteoporosis later in life. Osteoporosis is characterized as the thinning and weakening of bones and is often referred to as brittle bone disease.
Women who are going through menopause are most likely to develop osteoporosis, as a reduction in estrogen levels is a big risk factor. In fact, a recent study even suggests that women between the ages of 50 and 80 have a 79% higher risk of developing heart disease.
However, by routinely consuming calcium and vitamin D, you can effectively slow bone mineral loss and in part, reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
While rare, severe vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children, a disease that causes the bones to become soft and bend. In adults, severe deficiency of this key vitamin can result in osteomalacia, a condition that encompasses the softening of bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness.
Luckily, you can largely prevent all of this from happening so long as you eat plenty of vitamin D-rich foods such as fatty fish (think salmon) and eggs. However, a vitamin D supplement may also be a great addition to your diet. Be sure to consult your physician before taking any new supplements to ensure they won't react with another medication you may be taking.
For more, be sure to check out Surprising Side Effects of Taking Vitamin D Supplements, Says Science.