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Causes, Symptoms and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D 

Health Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency

Before I explore the reasons some people have a vitamin D deficiency, its symptoms and health risks, let’s look at the sources of vitamin D.

Sources of vitamin D

In order for your body to produce sufficient vitamin D, your skin needs to get enough sunlight in addition to food sources.  Here are the many food sources of vitamin D:

·       fatty fish, for example, mackerel, salmon, and tuna

·       egg yolks

·       beef liver

·       cheese

·       mushrooms

·       fortified cereals and juices

·       fortified milk

Causes of vitamin D deficiency

You have dark skin

With the presence of melanin in your skin or sunscreen, your skin’s ability to absorb the ultraviolet radiation B (UVB) rays from the sun (sunlight) and produce vitamin D, is limited. No wonder some studies reveal that older adults with darker skin have a risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Your kidneys have issues with converting vitamin D to its active form

As we age, our kidneys’ ability to convert vitamin D to its active form decreases. This increases our risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Your digestive tract is less effective in absorbing vitamin D

Some medical issues like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and cystic fibrosis can be the reason your intestine cannot absorb the vitamin D in the food you consume.

You are obese

When fat cells extract Vitamin D from the blood, the process alters the release of vitamin D into circulation. That’s why a person with a body mass index of 30 or greater mostly has low vitamin D blood levels.

Geographical location

If you live in northern latitudes or in highly polluted areas, spend most time indoors or work night shifts, your best source of vitamin D can only be from food.


Breastfeeding infants need a vitamin D supplement. This applies mostly to infants with dark skin or those minimally exposed to sunlight. According to American Academy of Pediatrics, all breastfed infants should receive 400 international units (IU) of oral vitamin D per day.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

  • regular illness or infection
  • fatique
  • muscle pain
  • bone and back pain
  • impaired wound healing
  • low mood

·        hair loss

Tests for Vitamin D Deficiency

The best accurate measurement of vitamin D in your body is to take the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. An adequate level in healthy people is 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL. But if the level is below 12 ng/mL, then you have vitamin D deficiency and therefore need treatment.

Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency

Taking more vitamin D via more exposure to sunlight, diet and supplements is the best treatment for vitamin D deficiency.

According to guidelines from doctors, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D was raised to 600 IU for anyone between 1 and 70 years of age. For adults above 70, it was increased to 800 IU to enhance bone health. The safe upper limit also got increased to 4,000 IU. So, now doctors may recommend more than 4,000 IU as a remedy to a vitamin D deficiency.

Do you spend less time in the sun or apply sunscreen often, talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement, especially if you have symptoms or risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.




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