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Vitamin D deficiency: Symptoms, causes & risk

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Vitamin D deficiency is one of the common nutritional deficiencies found among adults and children, as well as it is the common undiagnosed medical condition across the globe. Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin that helps in keeping your bones strong.

Recent research suggests that Vitamin D protects you from a lot of health problems. As the name depicts, the sunshine vitamin is produced by the body in response to skin exposure to sunlight. There are a few foods that have vitamin D, like fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks- which fortifies dairy, and grain products. When Vitamin D enters our body, it regulates bone metabolism, calcium, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular, malignancies, autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases. Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in everyone in our country and especially in the Northern parts of India. The very first reason is the limited or no sun exposure, generally, in urban areas- people do not prefer going outside, or if they go, they prefer minimum sun exposure. 

In this article, Dr Anuj Chawla, one of the best orthopaedic surgeons in Gurgaon, will discuss the importance of Vitamin D for children and adults, and everything about Vitamin D deficiency. 

What is Vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency indicates that there is not enough vitamin D in your body. People with fair-skinned and young individuals are more capable of converting sunshine into vitamin D more efficiently than darker-skinned and aged people.

What are the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?

Listed below are a few symptoms that can help you understand that you might have Vitamin D deficiency in your body:

  • Bone Pain
  • Joint Pain
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Weight Gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Cramps in muscles
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rickets in children
  • Depression

Vitamin D Deficiency,low vitamin D

What are the causes of Vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency can occur in your body due to various reasons, listed below are a few of them.

  • You are not able to consume the recommended levels of the vitamin over a while, especially if you follow a strict vegan diet as most of the natural sources for Vitamin D are animal-based like fish, beef, egg yolks etc.
  • If your exposure to sunlight is limited, then you may have Vitamin D deficiency as your body makes Vitamin D if your skin is exposed to sunlight.
  • Pigment melanin makes your skin dark which creates the inability in your skin to absorb Vitamin D in response to exposure of your skin to sunlight.
  • People with a BMI of 30 or more than 30 often have low Vitamin D levels.
  • Medical problems like Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis and celiac disease can affect your intestine’s ability to absorb Vitamin D  through food that you eat.
  • With ageing, kidneys are unable to convert Vitamin D into an active form which increases the risk of being Vitamin D deficient.

Who all are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency?

The following are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency

  • All expecting mothers
  • Breastfeeding women
  • Infants and young kids below the age group of 5 years
  • Old aged people 65 years and above
  • One’s who have low or no exposure to the sun.
  • People with dark skin.

Why is Vitamin D so important? 

There are several reasons to consider Vitamin D as an essential vitamin for the human body, including;

  • To keep bones stronger: Healthy bones will defend you from several conditions like rickets. Rickets is a condition that causes weaker and soft bones in children. This condition is due to a lack of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is required in the body so that phosphorus and calcium can build bones. If an adult has soft bones, then the condition is called osteomalacia.
  • To absorb calcium: Vitamin D, along with calcium, helps strengthen bones and keep them strong and healthy. Weak bones can lead to osteoporosis and loss of bone density, which can lead to fractures. Vitamin D becomes an active form of the vitamin when taken orally or through exposure to the sun, and it promotes optimal absorption of calcium from your diet.
  • To keep mental health fit: People with low Vitamin D levels often face depression and fatigue. Having proper Vitamin D levels in the body keeps you away from such risks. Vitamin D contributes to making strong muscles and general health.

What are the health effects of vitamin D deficiency?

Getting enough vitamin D plays an important role in keeping you healthy by protecting against diseases or conditions, these conditions can include:

  • Heart disease  
  • Diabetes
  • Infections 
  • Immune system disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Types of cancer, like colon, breast, and prostate cancers
  • Multiple sclerosis

Watch the video as Dr Anuj Chawla, orthopaedic consultant at the CK Birla Hospital talks about vitamin D deficiency and why it is very common in India:

How can Vitamin D deficiency be diagnosed?

If you see any symptoms which are mentioned above or fall in the category of high risks, you should get your Vitamin D levels checked. Vitamin D levels can be measured with a Vitamin D blood test.

How can Vitamin D levels be boosted?

Vitamin D in your body can be boosted through exposure to sunlight, proper diet and supplements.

Outlook

If you have any queries related to Vitamin D or how to boost the level of Vitamin D in the body, get in touch with our team of experts to get your Vitamin D levels checked.