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Uninvited Guests of the Corona Era: Vitamin D Deficiency
  • By Park Yu-jeong, cub-reporter
  • 승인 2021.09.01 09:18
  • 호수 293
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▲ Vitamin D (source: Freepik.com)

The hot summer has passed, and autumn has arrived with a cool breeze. Outdoor activities such as camping are enjoyed every fall due to the cool weather. However, this year it is expected that outdoor activities will be difficult to enjoy, due to the COVID-19 resurgence. Spending less time outdoors can lead to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because it can be synthesized in the skin upon exposure to sunlight. It is not synthesized in the body and must be obtained externally. Especially in autumn, it is more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency due to the reduced level of sunlight. People should be careful of vitamin D deficiency. Low vitamin D levels can lead to musculoskeletal problems, depression, chronic fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome. How is vitamin D deficiency associated with these diseases?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that weakens bones, making them more likely to break. It is most common among the elderly. Vitamin D and calcium play an important role in the maintenance of bone health. Calcium makes up much of the structure of bones and teeth. Vitamin D acts as a bone adhesive to help absorb calcium. Therefore, even if the levels of calcium intake are sufficient; vitamin D deficiency can still lead to brittle bones. Also, vitamin D and calcium are important nutrients for the elderly who are prone to weak bones or people with osteoporosis, because osteoporosis increases the risk of fracture by 2 to 10 times.

Depression is a disease that causes not only psychological symptoms, but also physical symptoms. Depression is associated with serotonin, also known as the “happiness hormone”. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which stabilizes emotions and prevents depression. Vitamin D facilitates serotonin synthesis, so a vitamin D deficiency can make people more sensitive to changes in mood. More and more people are feeling depressed due to the prolonged COVID-19 restrictions. Therefore, vitamin D can help relieve their depression.

Vitamin D also affects chronic fatigue syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease that makes people feel tired even if they get enough sleep. Vitamin D keeps their energy levels stable. Therefore, if vitamin D is insufficient, chronic fatigue syndrome can worsen. Irritable bowel syndrome is an intestinal disease caused by acute intestinal nerve sensitivity. Symptoms include upset stomach and bowel problems. This is mainly caused by psychological anxiety and stress, and like depression, it is caused by low serotonin levels. Therefore, getting sufficient vitamin D can relieve irritable bowel syndrome.

The best way to get vitamin D is from sunlight exposure. By going for a for 30 minute walk every day, they can get the recommended daily intake of vitamin D. If outdoor activities are difficult, open the window and expose arms and hands to sunlight for 20 to 30 minutes on a sunny day. Foods that are high in vitamin D are also helpful. For example, fatty fish, such as salmon and Spanish mackerels, dairy products, eggs, and shiitake mushrooms are good. However, there are not many foods with high vitamin D. Therefore, if people simply want to increase their vitamin D intake, they should take vitamin D nutritional supplements.

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are unclear, and it can be hard to recognize whether people are vitamin D deficient. However, modern people who spend a lot of time indoors have vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, people should be careful because vitamin D deficiency can pose several serious health risks. Going for a walk is a good way to get vitamin D, but it is also good for relieving stress. There is a pond named, ‘Cheongwoonji’, in front of the Changwon University’s dormitory. If students have time to rest, it is recommended that they walk. Additionally, Vitamin D deficiency can be easily diagnosed by blood tests. If people have the above symptoms, they should see a doctor, and take care of their health.

By Park Yu-jeong, cub-reporter  parkyujeong01@naver.com

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