Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an extremely significant vitamin that affects several systems and organs throughout the body, and is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It helps to prevent skeletal diseases (such as rickets), maintains levels of phosphorus and calcium in the blood and supports immunity.
Today, many Americans suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Due to work and lifestyle changes over the past few decades and increased knowledge on the dangers of UV exposure, many people do not get enough Vitamin D from unfiltered sun exposure. People living in northern climates, work indoors and the elderly have an increased risk of developing Vitamin D deficiency due to their decreased sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of health problems including several types of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin D and Eye Health
The eyes are an essential part of your overall health. For doctors, they are the windows to the body. Multiple systemic health problems can be diagnosed with an eye examination. Vision is a vital part of learning at any age, and good vision will help you to continue to lead a healthy and active lifestyle in your later years. You can help keep your eyes healthy the same way you keep the rest of you healthy, with diet and exercise.
We all know the food we eat and the lifestyle choices we make affect our overall health and wellness. However, what we put into our bodies may have a greater effect than you think. Healthy eating habits and a diet with the recommended amount of vitamins and nutrients can help reduce the risk of eye disease and vision problems. Vitamins that are especially important for your eye health include: Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Studies have suggested that Vitamin D is associated with a lower risk of macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over fifty. The disease affects central vision by attacking the macula, the center of the retina located at the back of the eye. The macula helps us to see colors and detail. Symptoms of AMD include gradual loss of the ability to see objects clearly, vision distortion, loss of color vision and dark spots in vision.
Research has also linked Vitamin D deficiency and diabetes, because there are vitamin D receptors on insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Diabetic Eye disease, including Diabetic retinopathy, is extremely common among those living with type 2 diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy, the main cause behind blindness in American adults, causes the blood vessels in the eyes to swell to become blocked.
How to Supplement your Vitamin D Intake
To mitigate your risk from these and other health problems associated with vitamin D, it is crucial to get the recommended amount per day (the USDA Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin D is 200 IU for adults under 50 and 400 IU for adults over 50). There is no substitute for vitamin D synthesis, so it is best to get a few minutes of unfiltered sunlight every day (No more than a few minutes. UV rays are harmful to your skin and eyes). Vitamin D can also be supplemented by diet. A few great food sources that include high levels of vitamin D are: milk, salmon, sardines and orange juice fortified with vitamin D. A supplement or multivitamin can also increase your vitamin D level.
Talk to your Eye Doctor
If you have questions about Vitamin D and your eye health, ask your optometrist. Adults should visit their optometrist once a year for a comprehensive eye exam. To find a California Optometric Association doctor in your neighborhood, visit eyehelp.org.