Vitamin D Deficiency: How It Affects Your Health?

Not too much but an optimal amount of vitamin D is necessary for our body. Vitamin D is needed for the right functioning of our body. Strong bones and preventing cancers are also among its various benefits. Vitamin D is one of the important vitamins that have powerful effects throughout our body systems. It acts like a hormone and every single cell of the body has a receptor for it. 

Sunlight is a major source of Vitamin D. Do you know how? Your body makes it from cholesterol when exposed to sunlight. It’s not always possible to get enough from a diet alone. It can be found in fatty fish and fortified dairy products. Vitamin D deficiency is common and about 1 billion people worldwide face it. Let’s know the meaning of Vitamin D deficiency, its symptoms, causes and a few other related factors. 

What is Vitamin D deficiency?

When your body does not have sufficient amount of Vitamin D, it is said to be a vitamin D deficiency. As mentioned earlier, vitamin D has a unique way of creation from sunlight. Darker-skinned (more melanin content in skin cells) people, mostly over the age of 50 face difficulties to convert sunlight into vitamin D as compared to the younger and fair-skinned people.

Health effects of Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D plays a vital role in the treatments of various diseases and also acts as a preventive cure before those problems knock the door of emergencies. Few conditions are listed below:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Heart diseases 
  3. Infections  
  4. Immune system disorders 
  5. Types of cancer such as – colon, prostate, and breasts cancers
  6. Multiple sclerosis 

How does diet play a role in getting enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is not naturally presented in many foods. That’s why dieticians suggest foods that contain vitamin D specifically. Nowadays, certain foods have vitamin D, incorporated additionally. Especially, vegans and people who are lactose intolerant do not get sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Hence, people choose to take supplements. The list below shows the food items as well as its vitamin content. 

Food Vitamin D content in International Units(IUs) per serving
Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon1360
Swordfish, cooked, 3 ounces566
Salmon (sockeye) cooked, 3 ounces447
Tuna, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces154
Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup137
Milk, vitamin-fortified, 1 cup115 – 124
Yoghurt, fortified with 20% of the daily value of vitamin D, 6 ounces80
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines46
Liver, beef, cooked, 3 ounces42
Egg yolk, 1 large41
Cereal, fortified with 10% of the daily value of vitamin D, 1 cup40
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce6

What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

  • Getting sick or infected regularly -vitamin D also keeps your immune system strong to fight against bacterias and viruses. That says it interacts with cells responsible for the infection. Catching a cold or the flu in fewer intervals is an indication for vitamin D deficiency. Many studies have found that consuming vitamin D supplements at a dosage of 400 IUs can help control respiratory tract infections.
  • Fatigue and tiredness – feeling tired can be due to many reasons and one of them is vitamin D. According to case studies, very low blood levels can cause fatigue and hurts the quality of life. A study between the relationship of vitamin D and fatigue in young women has revealed that women complaining of fatigue have blood levels lower than 20 ng/ml as compared to blood levels over 30 ng/ml. 
  • Bone and back pain – vitamin D improves the absorption of calcium. Bone and back pain is an outcome of insufficient vit D. Back pain is related to it has been proved by researchers with over 9000 older women. People with low vitamin D experience bone pain in their legs, ribs or joints.
  • Depression – depression has been a part of adults lives due to vitamin D deficiency. Some studies have shown that people who are deficient, giving them supplements has helped in controlling seasonal depression which happens during the winter season.
  • Impaired wound healing – slow healing of wounds after injury or surgery means you have a low vitamin D. It participates in the wound-healing process by increasing the production of compounds that are the key information of new skin. 
  • Bone loss and hair loss – vitamin D plays a crucial role in bone metabolism. Older people who are diagnosed with bone loss, required to take calcium, as well as vitamin D. Maintaining an adequate level of vitamin D, can lower the risk of bone loss and fractures. 

Hair loss is just not related to stress but a deficiency in vitamin D. Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease, results in severe hair loss from the head and other body parts, often recognised with deficient people. 

Causes of Vitamin D deficiency 

Few medical conditions can also cause vitamin D deficiency, such as:

  • Cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease – They do not allow the intestines to absorb vitamin D sufficiently.
  • Weight Loss surgeries – After such surgeries, the stomach size and bypasses of the small intestines reduces which makes the nutrients, vitamins and minerals consumption insufficient. 
  • Obesity – Fat cells often keep vitamin D isolated so that it is not released. Vitamin D deficiency is common with obese people.
  • Kidney and liver diseases – It reduces the amount of an enzyme which used to change vitamin D into a form that is used in the body.

Vitamin D deficiency is highly common and people are unaware of it. The symptoms are nonspecific and wide that creates confusion about the real cause behind them. If you think you are suffering certain signs due to vitamin D, visiting a doctor immediately should be the first step. You can increase your vitamin D intake by absorbing more sunlight, eating correct foods by checking the amount of vitamin D added, planning a proper diet with an equal measure of vitamins, minerals and nutrients

Maintaining a healthy life should be mandatory, not an option. 

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