Vitamin D Deficiency can cause many disorders in the body. Vitamins are the types of nutrients (others are protein, fat, carbohydrate, minerals, etc.) that our body requires to grow and develop normally.
There are several vitamins required in the body like vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, etc. Out of these, Vitamin D can be produced by the human body in the presence of sunlight. Vitamin D can also be taken from certain food items included in the diet.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is also known as “calciferol” and is present naturally in some foods and available as a dietary supplement.
Vitamin D actually is not a true vitamin but a prohormone (a precursor of a hormone) as our body can produce it like other hormones. It is produced in your skin as a response to sun exposure, which is why sometimes it is called a “sunshine vitamin”.
In this article, we come to know about the benefits of Vitamin D, diseases that can happen due to a deficiency of vitamin D, how to boost the intake of vitamin D, and what are the recommended doses.
Benefits of Vitamin D
1. Healthy Bones & teeth
- Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the intestine and helps to maintain healthy bones & teeth to enable normal bone mineralization.
- A deficiency of Vitamin D can cause Rickets in children, which leads to a bowlegged appearance in children due to the softening of the bones.
- In adults, vitamin D deficiency can cause osteomalacia or softening of the bones.
- In association with calcium, vitamin D also protects older adults from getting osteoporosis.
2. Helps to reduce the risk of many diseases
- Decrease the chances of developing heart diseases by supporting the function of the cardiovascular system.
- Reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis and other auto-immune diseases.
- Some studies suggest that Vitamin D helps to fight against the influenza virus and thus reduce the risk of Flu.
3. Fight against Depression
- As per scientists, Vitamin D might help to regulate mood and overcome depression.
- Another study states that deficiency of vitamin D was more common in people experiencing depression and anxiety.
4. Helps to lose the extra weight
- If you are trying to lose weight then include Vitamin D supplements in your diet.
- In one study, vitamin D reduces the risk of heart disease in overweight people.
5. Healthy Pregnancy
- The risk of developing preeclampsia and preterm delivery is reduced if the pregnant lady is having a sufficient level of Vitamin D in the body.
- Doctors also correlate the status of poor vitamin D and gestational diabetes with bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women.
Deficiency of vitamin D
Although your body can create Vitamin D, many factors can cause the deficiency of Vitamin D in the body, which includes –
- Use of Sunscreen: Any sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or above reduces the ability of the body to synthesize vitamin D naturally.
- Covering your body: If you are covering the skin with clothing, it can also inhibit vitamin D production in the body.
- Living indoors: If you are spending more time indoors like at home, offices, school, etc., chances of vitamin D deficiency increase.
- Livening in highly polluted Areas: People living in areas of high pollution or who work night shifts are more prone to vitamin D deficiency.
- Obesity: Obese persons having BMI (body mass index) greater than 30 are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. Fat cells prevent the release of vitamin D by isolating it.
- Skin type: Darker skin has a high level of melanin (skin pigmentation). The higher the level of melanin, the less vitamin D the skin can absorb. Sunlight absorption through the skin is essential to produce vitamin D in a healthy body.
- Some medical conditions: A few diseases like Crohn’s disease, Cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, cause a problem in the absorption of Vitamin D through the intestines which results in a deficiency of Vitamin D.
Due to the above factors, vitamin D deficiency is increasing nowadays in most people. You can take Vitamin D supplements, but natural sources are best and it’s free of course.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
The following symptoms may appear –
- Fatigue & Weakness
- Bone & muscle pain, Muscles cramps
- Delayed healing of wounds or injuries
- Stress & Anxiety or depression
- Frequent or regular sickness or infection
- low mood or sudden mood swings
- Hair loss
- Skin problems
How to diagnose Vitamin D Deficiency?
To diagnose the deficiency of vitamin D, you need to get a blood test to measure the levels of vitamin D. The most common test is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D (also known as 25(OH)D).
How much Vitamin D is required in different age groups?
The unit of Vitamin D measurement is International Units (IU) or micrograms (mcg). 40 IU is equivalent to one microgram of vitamin D.
The Recommended daily dose of Vitamin D in the different age groups is as follows:
|Age group||Recommended daily dose of Vitamin D|
|Infants (at birth to one year)||400 IU (10 mcg)|
|Children from 1 year to 18 years||600 IU (15 mcg)|
|Adults from 19 years to 70 years||600 IU (15 mcg)|
|Adults 70 years or more||800 IU (20 mcg)|
|In women during pregnancy or lactation||600 IU (15 mcg)|
Complications due to long-term deficiency of Vitamin D
If deficiency remains for a Long time, it can cause some complications such as:
- High blood pressure or cardiovascular disorders
- Autoimmune disorders
- Neurological diseases
- Low immunity with repeated infections
- Complications of pregnancy
- Falls and injuries in old people
- Cancers, especially of breast, prostate, and colon
What are the sources of vitamin D?
Vitamin D can be obtained in various ways, like:
1. Sun exposure to the bare skin is the best way to get vitamin D. Usually 10-15 minutes three days per week is sufficient.
2. Some food sources are available that can provide Vitamin D such as:
• Fortified milk and dairy items
• Breakfast cereals and soy milk
• Fatty fish, like tuna, salmon, and mackerel
• Egg yolks
• Orange juice
3. Nutritional Supplements – In the market, Vitamin D is available under several different brand names such as Calciferol, cholecalciferol, Drisdol, ergocalciferol, and 1,25-Dihydroxycholecalciferol. There are many types of Vitamin D Supplements available in the market and on amazon.
Know more about the Vitamin D and its benefits and sources
Effects of overdosing of Vitamin D
As per healthcare professionals, the recommended upper limit for vitamin D is 4,000 IU per day for an adult. If you take Vitamin D in recommended amounts then it is very useful for the healthy body. But excessive intake of vitamin D can lead to various problems like, over calcification of bones and the hardening of blood vessels, lungs, kidneys, and heart tissues.
Following are the symptoms caused by excessive intake of vitamin D:
• Nausea & vomiting
• Loss of appetite
• Dry mouth with excessive thirst & urination
• A metallic taste in the mouth
• Constipation or diarrhea
Usually, taking too many vitamin D supplements causes overdosing. The natural source is the best to get vitamin D. In Homoeopathy, many natural supplements are available containing Vitamin D and calcium.