Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, Treatments, Causes

What Is Vitamin D Deficiency?

A vitamin D shortage occurs when the body does not receive enough Vitamin D, either owing to a lack of sunlight or a poor diet. When your skin is exposed to sunshine, it can produce vitamin D; but, if you live in a cold region with limited access to the sun or lead a sedentary indoor lifestyle, your vitamin D levels may be low. Fair-skinned people can convert more sunlight into vitamin D, whereas those with more pigment in their skin have a harder time creating it.

Why Vitamin D Is Important?

The significance of vitamin D in disease prevention is a hot topic in the study, but there are no clear answers about the benefits of taking more than the RDA. Although observational studies show a clear link between greater vitamin D serum levels and lower prevalence of certain diseases in populations living in sunnier regions, clinical trials that give individuals vitamin D supplements to treat a specific condition are still unconvincing. This could be attributable to a variety of factors, including study design, vitamin D absorption rates in different populations, and participant dosages.

Some Important Benefits Of Vitamin D

1.  Vitamin D Can Help Build Strong Bones

In numerous ways, vitamin D is essential for a strong, healthy skeleton. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, which is the primary component of bones. It also aids in the growth and rebuilding of bone cells, as well as promoting bone health by assisting in the healthy growth of surrounding muscles.

2.  Vitamin D Can Promote Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Vitamin D is necessary for the metabolism of glucose in the food you eat. It causes the beta cells in your pancreas to generate insulin, which is necessary for turning food into energy and controlling blood sugar levels. It also lowers insulin resistance (when your body doesn't respond to insulin as well as it should) and may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

3.  Vitamin D Can Help Support A Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnant women must consume adequate amounts of vitamin D. Prenatal vitamin D supplementation may lower the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, low birth weight, and severe postpartum hemorrhage in pregnant women. Although the mechanisms are unknown, vitamin D's favorable effects on the immune system, inflammation, and blood vessel function may account for some of these benefits.

The following are conditions that decrease exposure to UVB light and therefore lessen vitamin D absorption

1. Sunscreen application; correctly applied sunscreen can inhibit vitamin D absorption by up to 90%. 

2. Wearing full-sleeved clothes that cover the entire body. 

3. Spending only a small amount of time outside. 

4. Higher levels of the pigment melanin, which functions as a natural sunscreen, resulting in darker skin tones. 

5. Older ages, when 7-dehydrocholesterol levels drop and skin changes occur, as well as a population that spends more time indoors. 

6. UVB light is weaker in northern latitudes above the equator during certain seasons and when residing in northern latitudes above the equator. In the northern hemisphere, residents of Boston, Edmonton, and Bergen, Norway, respectively, can't get enough vitamin D from the sun for 4, 5, and 6 months of the year. Residents of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Cape Town (South Africa) in the southern hemisphere create significantly less vitamin D from the sun during the winter months (June through August) than they can during the spring and summer. Vitamin D is stored in the body as a result of summer sun exposure, but it must survive for several months. Many people in these higher-latitude areas are deficient by late winter.

Symptoms Vitamin D Deficiency

·       Fatigue and tiredness

·       Depression

·       Anxiety

·       Impaired wound healing

·       Being sick or getting infections often

·       Bone loss

·       Bone and back pain

·       Muscle pain

·       Weight gain

·       Hair loss

Recommended Amounts

The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day for most persons aged 1 to 70. It is 800 IU for persons over the age of 70, and 400 IU for babies. 

 However, obtaining that much vitamin D alone through diet and sunlight is difficult. An individual's average daily intake of vitamins through food and drink rarely surpasses 288 IU. Even vitamin D-fortified milk will only provide you with 100 IU per 8-ounce glass, and most vitamin D-fortified plant-milk substitutes will do the same. 

Natural Sources Of Vitamin D

Because sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, your doctor may advise you to spend more time outside. However, because of the dangers of too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation, you must carefully follow your doctor's advice.

Vitamin D is only found in a few foods naturally, but it is fortified in others. Because it is difficult to eat enough vitamin D from food, the best option for most individuals to acquire enough is to take a supplement. Vitamin D supplements come in two types: vitamin D2 (also known as "ergocalciferol" or "pre-vitamin D") and vitamin D3 (sometimes known as "cholecalciferol"). Both are naturally occurring forms that are created in the presence of ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from the sun, earning it the nickname "the sunshine vitamin," however D2 is produced by plants and fungi, while D3 is produced by mammals, including humans. Vitamin D is produced mostly in the skin, but many people have insufficient amounts because they live in areas where sunshine is limited in the winter, or because they have little sun exposure due to spending most of their time indoors. 

Also, those with darker skin have lower vitamin D blood levels because the pigment (melanin) serves as a shade, limiting vitamin D production (and also reducing damaging effects of sunlight on the skin, including skin cancer). 

Vitamin D3 is found in only a few foods. The flesh of fatty fish and fish liver oils are the finest sources. Egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver contain smaller amounts. Certain mushrooms contain vitamin D2, and some commercially sold mushrooms have increased levels of D2 due to deliberate exposure to high levels of ultraviolet radiation. Vitamin D is added to a variety of meals and supplements, including dairy products and cereals.


Vitamin D supplementation can be used to treat vitamin D deficiency. These are widely available over the counter, however, you should consult your doctor for exact dosage recommendations. 

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