Vitamin D deficiency syndrome is very common across the population of urban cities. It is also known as a lifestyle disease. Vitamin D is the most important micronutrient which is commonly known as Ergocalciferol. It is responsible for maintaining bone, teeth, muscle, and intestinal health. It causes rare bone disease rickets in children (1, 2).
- Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol): Obtained from dietary vegetable sources and oral supplements
- Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol): Obtained primarily from skin exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation in sunlight
What is Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency is a health condition caused by long-term inadequacy of Vitamin D in the human body. It may be caused by inadequate intake of Vitamin D-rich diet, sunlight, insufficient production, and malabsorption due to preexisting health conditions like gastrointestinal, renal, and liver disorders. (1, 2, 3).
Functions of Vitamin D
Vitamin D water-soluble micronutrient is present in many food items however, it is also produced in the body in presence of ultraviolet B radiations. This hormone is essential for maintaining the strong bone structure, absorption of calcium in the body. It prevents the remodeling of bone due to osteoporosis, osteoblasts, and osteoclasts. It also prevents rickets in children (3).
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
The condition of Vitamin D deficiency can be developed due to various factors. Some of the major cause has been illustrated below:
- Inadequate Diet: The most common cause of Vitamin D deficiency across the globe is our diet. We often consume foods that are poor in essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D.
- Sunlight: Vitamin D3 which is primarily produced in presence of ultraviolet B radiation in our body and ingestion of vitamin D-rich diet.
- GI Disorders: Vitamin D deficiency disorders can also be caused by malabsorption. The inadequate absorption of Vitamin D can occur due to the presence of preexisting health conditions like gastrointestinal disorders. It also affects the absorption of calcium in our body.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Getting frequent infections
- Memory loss
- Back Pain
- Bone Loss
- Hair Loss
- Brittle bones
- Misshapen bones
Health Risks due to Vitamin D Deficiency
- Osteoporosis: Severe calcium deficiency compromises bone health and makes it susceptible to fractures or breaks even you sneeze. In this condition, the individual loses a lot of bone and makes it porous.
- Rickets: Severe vitamin D deficiency causes very rare disease rickets in children in which bone become soft and bend. It can also happen when calcium or phosphorus levels are too low.
- Immune System Disorders: Vitamin D deficiency affects the immunity system. A person with a severe deficiency will frequently get infected.
- Cardiovascular Disorders (CVD): Vitamin D deficiency causes high blood pressure which affects the overall heart health and causes severe damage in long term.
- Obesity: Vitamin D works with parathyroid glands which balance the calcium in the blood by communicating with the kidneys, gut, and skeleton. Its deficiency causes improper functioning of the digestive system and leads to obesity (1).
In addition to this vitamin D deficiency can cause several types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and falls in older people (1).
Tests for Vitamin D Deficiency
There are several tests available for the diagnosis of Vitamin D deficiency in our body out of which blood test is the most widely used method of diagnosis. In general, we don’t need to do any preparations for the test but in case you are on Vitamin D supplements you need to stop before the test (4).
- Vitamin D Blood Test: A blood test for Vitamin D measures the concentrations of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. This is the most accurate test for the identification of vitamin deficiency.
- Microscopic Diagnosis: Calcium deficiency syndromes like osteoporosis are identified under the microscope. It this diagnosis, we identify the honeycomb structure of porous bone. The degree of porosity indicates the severity of osteoporosis.
Remedies of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Vitamin D Supplements: If you are diagnosed with severe Vitamin D deficiency, you should consider medical supplements under the supervision of doctors. As higher Vitamin D may lead to a deadly health condition.
- Vitamin D Rich Diet: Vitamin D-rich food items will help in minimizing Vitamin D deficiency. Some of the Vitamin D-rich food items are Salmon, tuna, mackerel, fish oil, milk, cheese, mushroom, egg yolk, beef liver, soy drinks, orange juice.
- Fortified Food Items: Several agricultural lands across the globe are poor in micronutrients which will serve nutrient-deficient food produces. Fortified seeds will help in providing nutrient-rich agricultural produce.
- Adequate Sunlight: Sunlight helps in the formation of vitamin D in our skin. We should expose ourselves to sunlight at least for 15-30 minutes daily.
Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency
It is often said that “Prevention is better than Cure” and indeed this is very much true about micronutrient deficiencies. Vitamin D deficiency can be prevented through the consumption of a Vitamin D-rich diet.
Food items rich in Vitamin D:
- Fish oil
- Milk and milk products
- Egg yolk
- Beef liver
- Soy drinks
- Orange juice
- Breakfast cereals
- Fortified food items
- Enough Sunlight
Adequate Intake (>19 yrs.):
A simple way to prevent Vitamin D deficiencies is to maintain recommended daily intakes. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D for an adult is 600-800 IU. It may be higher in the case of pregnant and lactating women.
Vitamin D is a very important fat-soluble vitamin essential for the maintenance of healthy bone, teeth, muscle, and digestion. It plays a key role in the absorption of calcium in our body. It prevents the remodeling of bone due to osteoporosis, osteoblasts, and osteoclasts. It also prevents rickets in children
Although Vitamin D deficiency has several ill effects, it can be treated with the right consultation and medical supplements as prescribed by medical experts. The best possible way to avoid these complications by consuming an adequate amount of Vitamin D as per RDA through various Vitamin D-rich diets.