Food for Thought
Bone pain and muscle weakness are two signs of inadequate vitamin D levels. Some nutrition experts recommend that anyone who experiences bone pain or muscle weakness should have his or her vitamin D levels checked by a physician. Because vitamin D is essential for optimal bone health, a deficiency can impair bone mineralization and may lead to bone deformations and bone-softening diseases, such as osteoporosis in adults or rickets in children.
People who are not exposed to much sunlight or avoid or restrict their intake of dairy and animal products are at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency. Other high-risk groups include infants who are exclusively breast-fed, older adults, people with dark skin and individuals with vitamin-absorption disorders.
To increase vitamin D levels, increase your consumption of oily fish and vitamin D–fortified milk and yogurt. Getting a sensible amount of sunshine (generally, 10–20 minutes each day) without using sunblock is another way to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.