Though a small amount of vitamin D can be found in foods such as sardines, mackerel, tuna, and herring – 80 to 90 percent of this vitamin is obtained from the sun.
According to a study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2014 annual meeting, vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with pain and depression. However, this is the first study that demonstrates the vitamin's association with increased consumption of pain medication during childbirth.
Physician anesthesiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and senior author of the study, Andrew W. Geller, stated "Women often experience lower than normal levels of vitamin D during pregnancy. We found that patients with low levels of vitamin D experienced an increase in pain during childbirth."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that high-risk groups of women who would suffer from vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy include ethnic minorities, vegetarians and women with limited exposure to the sun.
The study followed 93 pregnant women who each requested an epidural during labor. The researchers then measured the amount of pain medicine that was administered during the delivery and found that women with lower levels of vitamin D required more pain medicine during delivery than women with higher levels.
According to MedicalNewsToday, the main function of Vitamin D is to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in our bones and aid in cell to cell communication throughout the body.
The sunshine vitamin is also used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels, which includes high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Additionally, it is used for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle weakness, premenstrual syndrome, asthma, tooth and gum disease, bronchitis, diabetes, obesity, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to schizophrenia, dementia, insomnia, erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, and heart disease.
Unlike other essential vitamins, our bodies can naturally manufacture this nutrient with sunlight exposure. The standard recommendation for getting your quota of vitamin D is five to twenty minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen twice a week on the face, arms, and legs between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Buffalonews reported that there are factors that can affect one's exposure to Vitamin D. These causes include:
- Skin color: Darker skin produces less vitamin D.
- Location: Northern latitudes get fewer ultraviolet rays.
- Age: After age 50, the skin's ability to produce vitamin D is reduced.
- Medications: Some medications, such as corticosteroids and cholestyramine, lower vitamin D levels.
- Chronic kidney disease: This condition lowers the ability to activate vitamin D.
- Cloud cover: Complete cloud cover reduces UV rays by 50 percent.