Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble nutrients responsible for increasing calcium, phosphate, and magnesium absorption.
When a person has Vitamin D deficiency, it means that they lack enough vitamin D in their body. The skin produces vitamin D using sunlight and other sources such as fatty fish and fortified milk. Fair-skinned and younger people convert sunlight into vitamin D more efficiently than dark-skinned and older individuals. When vitamin D levels are too low, the bones become thin, weak, and misshapen. Vitamin D is vital for immunity, reducing inflammation and other body functions.
More than 42% of USA citizens have vitamin D deficiency, and many are unaware.The recommended daily dosage of vitamin D is 600 international units for adults and 800 international units for people over 70. The good thing is that once a person learns they have vitamin D deficiency, they can do something about tit.
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency occurs because of consuming less than recommended vitamin D levels, especially when following vegan diets. That is because many natural sources of the vitamin are animal products, such as fish, eggs, and beef. Another cause is minimal sunlight exposure. When people spend a lot of time indoors, stay in northern altitudes, cover themselves fully or experience long winters, they become more prevalent to deficiency.
In addition, people with medical conditions such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and cystic fibrosis become deficient because the diseases affect the digestive tract's ability to absorb vitamin D efficiently. When people age, the kidneys become less able to synthesize vitamin D to its active form, which increases the risk of deficiency. Obesity causes deficiency because it minimizes the extraction of vitamin D by fat cells. Also, when people get gastric bypass surgeries for obesity, it reduces vitamin D absorption because doctors remove part of the intestine. Other causes of deficiency include:
- Having dark skin
- Malabsorption disorders
- Having an intestinal infection
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
There are many symptoms that can show someone is suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Unfortunately many mimic the symptoms of other conditions:
- Chronic Fatigue - People with low vitamin D levels in the blood complain of chronic daytime tiredness and headaches.
- Hair Loss - Vitamin D deficiency can cause alopecia areata, which makes people lose a lot of hair from the body.
- Pain - Deficiency causes lower back and bone pain because of inadequate calcium absorption.
- Slow Wound Healing - People with vitamin D deficiency experience prolonged wound healing after getting injured or undergoing surgery because the vitamin is responsible for new skin formation and controlling inflammation. In addition, their bones fracture easily.
- Digestive Issues - Deficiency increases the risk of getting inflammatory bowel diseases, which cause abdominal pain and diarrhea.
- Bone Loss - Since vitamin D improves bone metabolism and calcium absorption, deficiency causes low bone mineral density.
More signs and symptoms include:
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty walking
- Severe PMS symptoms in women
- Sleeping difficulties
- Erectile dysfunction
- Frequently getting illnesses and infections, including the flu, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections
- Atopic dermatitis
- Inflammation and pain in the joints
Potential Complications and Related Conditions
Vitamin D deficiency can cause health complications and diseases such as albuminuria, indicating that the kidneys malfunction. In addition, a deficiency increases pregnancy-related complications, including gestational diabetes mellitus, premature births, and preeclampsia. Also, children born from mothers with deficiency experience weak enamels, tooth decay, and language impairment.
Rickets, which is bone weakening and softening in children, occur from lengthy deficiency. The highest risk happens in children between 3 and 36 months as their bones grow rapidly. Vitamin D deficiency can advance the symptoms in pre-diabetic and diabetes patients. Another complication is irregular menstrual periods, where women either get amenorrhea (no period) or periods after 35 days(oligomenorrhea). More complications and conditions include:
- Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression
- Heart disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Hormone deficiencies
- Autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Cancer, including prostate, colon, pancreatic, breast, and colorectal cancers
- Female urinary incontinence
- Osteoporosis and Osteopenia
- Cognitive function decline, which causes dementia and Alzheimer's