Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is a common vitamin deficiency that causes issues with your bones and muscles. It most commonly affects people over the age of 65 and people who have darker skin. It’s preventable and treatable.
About 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency, while 50% of the population has vitamin D insufficiency.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that your body uses for normal bone development and maintenance. Vitamin D also plays a role in your nervous system, musculoskeletal system and immune system.Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because your body makes it from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight
Sign & Symptoms –
The most common signs that a person may be affected by vitamin D deficiency are –
• Bone pain, sometimes also felt as joint pain
• Muscle pain
• Hair loss
• Being affected by frequent bacterial and viral infections
• Mood changes such as a depressed mood
• Wounds and injuries taking longer to heal
• Weaker and/or easily breaking bones
Causes & Risk Factors –
While there’s no single cause for deficiency, your overall risk may be higher as a result of certain underlying conditions or lifestyle factors. Some of the most common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency are –
• having dark skin
• being older
• having obesity
• not eating much fish or dairy products
• living far from the equator or in regions with little sunlight year-round
• staying or working indoors
• working overnight shifts
• having chronic kidney disease, liver disease, or hyperparathyroidism
• having a health condition that affects nutrient absorption, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease
• having gastric bypass surgery
• using certain medications that affect vitamin D metabolism, such as statins and steroids
The most serious complications of vitamin D deficiency include:
• Low blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia).
• Low blood phosphate levels (hypophosphatemia).
• Rickets (softening of bones during childhood).
• Osteomalacia (softening of bones in adults).
The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. This is because 25-hydroxy, or calcidiol, has higher concentrations and stays in your blood longer, which makes it easier to detect. A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is considered adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency is usually treated with supplements. If a your doctor finds that you have a deficiency, they may recommend the following options.
Oral supplements are the go-to treatment for vitamin D deficiency. You can easily buy these your doctor recommendations. Magnesium helps activate vitamin D, so you may need to take this mineral too.
For a severe deficiency, a doctor may recommend prescription vitamin D, which comes in much stronger doses of up to 50,000 IU. Your doctor may also consider vitamin D injections.
▪︎ Food sources
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day. That goes up to 800 IU a day for those older than age 70. Eating more vitamin D-rich foods may also boost your levels. Options include –
• fatty fish
• egg yolks
• fortified cereals
• fortified milk and juices
• beef liver
Because sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, your doctor may also recommend going outdoors more often. However, given the negative effects of excess ultraviolet exposure, it’s important to take precautions by limiting your total time in the sun and applying sunscreen.
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