Vitamin D Deficiency | Symptoms, Causes & Cure
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. We get some of it from nutritious food but majorly we receive it from the sunlight. Vitamin D, known as the sunlight vitamin, is produced by the body in response to the skin being exposed to sunlight. These days most of the people are becoming more beauty conscious rather than health. They are more worried about their skin getting tanned, black spots on the skin due to dust allergy and all that. The moment they get out in the sun the make sure that they cover every inch of the body from being exposed to sunlight. Though it prevents tanning, they fail to think of the minus.
Lack of exposure to sunlight is the main cause for deficiency in vitamin D. Vitamin D is abundantly present in fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks, fortified fat spreads, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified dairy products and powdered milk. However, it is hard to get enough from it just from food.
When do you figure out that you lack vitamin D?
If you shun the sun, suffer from milk allergies, or adhere to a strict vegan diet, then possibly you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium from the diet. Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets. It is a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t properly mineralize. This leads to soft bones and skeletal deformities. Recent studies show that vitamin D has a lot of importance in protecting against a number of health diseases.
What are the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?
For many people the symptoms are subtle. However, certain symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean that you have a Vitamin-D deficiency. In many cases, even without symptoms vitamin D deficiency can pose a number of health risks.
Vitamin D deficiency can put people at risk of:
- Rickets: Bone problems in children
- Osteomalacia- bone problems in adults
- Heart problems
- Cognitive impairment in elderly people.
- Glucose intolerance
- Multiple sclerosis
What are the causes of Vitamin D deficiency?
1) Inadequate amounts of Vitamin D: When you consume only vegetarian diet, you naturally lack vitamin D in your body. This is because most of the natural sources of Vitamin-D are animal-based.
2) Your exposure to Sunlight is limited: Whenever you expose your body to sunlight, it makes Vitamin-D. If you are homebound, live in northern latitudes, wear long robes or head coverings for religious reasons, or have an occupation that prevents exposure to the sun, you are at higher risk of getting Vitamin-D deficiency.
3) You have Dark skin: The ability of the skin to produce melanin will greatly depend on the skin color. The darker your skin, the lower is its ability to produce vitamin D. Studies show that older people with darker skin are at greater risk of suffering from vitamin D deficiency.
4) Your kidneys can’t convert Vitamin D into active form: As age goes by, the ability of the kidneys to function efficiently decreases. As a result, the kidney loses its ability to convert vitamin D into active forms. This causes a deficiency in vitamin D.
5) Your digestive tract cannot absorb Vitamin D: Certain health conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis can adversely affect your intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin-D. As a result, your body lacks vitamin D.
6) Obesity: People with body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30 will have low levels of vitamin-D in their body because vitamin D is extracted from the body by the fat cells.
Who are at High Risk of vitamin D Deficiency?
The following groups of people are at particular risk of vitamin D efficiency:
¬ Pregnant and breastfeeding women
¬ Teenagers and young women
¬ Infants and children below 5 years of age
¬ People who have little or no exposure to the sun
¬ People with darker skin
5 Illness related to Vitamin D deficiency:
1) Dementia: Moderate to severe Vitamin D deficiency can double the risk for some forms of dementia. Dementia is a decline in the thinking, memory, and behavior that adversely affects daily life activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Though affected by this disease are mostly elderly people of age 65 and above.
2) Prostate Cancer: Vitamin D deficiency in men can lead to prostate cancer if left untreated. About 665 men aged between 40 to 70 suffer from prostate cancer as a result of vitamin-D deficiency. It is the most common cancer in men and second most common cause of death in the world. Men with low levels of vitamin D deficiency are at higher risk of prostate cancer than men with normal levels of vitamin-D.
3) Erectile dysfunction: This is the most common sexual problems in men. It can stem from other health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure. The treatment for this includes hormonal replacement therapy, counseling, lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, and eating a balanced diet.
4) Schizophrenia: People with Vitamin D deficiency are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than people with sufficient vitamin D levels. It is a mental illness that causes disordered thinking, delusions, and confusions.
5) Heart Disease: Vitamin-D deficiency is more commonly linked to severe heart problems. About 70% of the patients suffering from heart disease are having low levels of vitamin D.
Some of the Vitamin D supplements are as follows:
1. Drisdol oral
2. Vitamin D3 oral
3. Calcitriol oral
4. Viactiv oral
5. Vitamin D2 oral
6. Rocaltrol oral
7. Decara oral
8. Citrus Calcium oral
9. Liquid calcium with vitamin D oral
10. Oyster shell + D3 oral
Here is an amazing way for safe exposure to the sun!
Just to 10 to 15 minutes in the summer sun without sunscreen is more than enough to top up vitamin-D levels in your body. People with darker skin need to spend longer duration in the sun than people with lighter skin. The best time to recharge Vitamin D levels in your body is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the best duration of a year is from April to September. The larger the area of your body being uncovered, the greater is the Vitamin-D levels you receive.
Other than daily vitamin top up the usual sun protection methods should be taken care of. This includes using sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) at least 15. To know more about the vitamin D benefits, its supplements, and the effects of vitamin D deficiency in men, women, and children contact our doctors on free doctor helpline. Log on to www.freedoctorhelpline.com or call us at +918010555444.
Tests for vitamin D deficiency:
The 25-hydroxy Vitamin-D blood test is the most accurate way to measure the amount of Vitamin D in your body. About 20-50 ng/mL is considered adequate for a healthy person. If this level goes below 12 ng/mL then it indicates vitamin D deficiency.
Treatment for vitamin D deficiency:
The only way to treat this deficiency is to get more Vitamin-D in your body through diet and supplements. The amount of Vitamin D needed for an optimal health differs depending on the age and health conditions.
If you are so much bothered about tanning and therefore don’t expose your skin to the sun, then you should probably talk to your doctor about taking Vitamin-D supplements. Especially, if you have risk factors for Vitamin D deficiency then it is better to consult a doctor immediately.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin-D has been raised to 600 international units (IU) in children to 800 international units (IU) in adults. The safer upper limit was also raised to 4000 international units (IU). Doctors may prescribe 4000 international units (IU) to correct vitamin D deficiency.
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