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Vitamin D Deficiency: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Vitamin D & Why is it Essential

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble secosteroid. the major forms of vitamin D are classified as Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) and Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) accountable for the absorption of calcium, magnesium, phosphate and many other biological effects in the body. In simple terms, Vitamin D is essential for your bone density, growth, development and quality.

How Much Vitamin D Do We Need 

The daily intake of Vitamin D should be around 400-800 IU per day or 10-20 micrograms based on the U.S national academy of medicines recommendations.

The data further suggests taking 4000 IU (International units) is safe for some individuals and at times taking higher doses are temporarily safe in order to raise blood levels in few individuals.

What is Vitamin D Deficiency & What Causes it

Lack of Vitamin D in the body results in Vitamin D deficiency (a.k.a. Hypovitaminosis D). It is a very common condition but many people are not aware of it. The main reasons for Vitamin D Deficiency are:

1. When the body is unable to absorb the sunlight (Ultraviolet B rays)

2. Inadequate intake of vitamin D through food

3. Inadequate or poor exposure to sunlight

4. Applying large quantities of sunscreen

5. Staying in a highly polluted area

6. Pregnancy and breastfeeding

7. Aged people above 65 years

8. Living at a high latitude

9. Sedentary lifestyle

10. Dark skin

11. Obesity

The above causes may further result in rickets (seen in children), osteomalacia (softening of the bones) osteoporosis (reduced density and quality of the bone), and muscle weakness in adults eventually increases the risk of bone fractures.

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

1. Mood swings, anxiety or depression

2. Falling sick and frequent infections

3. Osteoporosis or bone fractures

4. Hypertension/Hypotension

5. Frequent lower back pain

6. Pale skin and dark circles

7. Sweating of the hands

8. Digestive problems

9. Loss of appetite

10. Muscle pain

11. Tiredness

12. Join pains

13. Hair loss

14. Dry skin

Management and Treatment

Treatment is simple and easy to fix. Below are the simple methods to beat vitamin D deficiency:

a. Expose your Body to Sunlight: Ultraviolet B rays from the sun is the best source of vitamin D. Try to stay in the sunlight for 20-30 minutes without applying sunscreen between 11 am to 1 pm since this is the best time for essential Vitamin D.

 Caution: Sunlight is a great source for the synthesis of vitamin D but too much exposure to sunlight may be dangerous! This leads to sunburns, aging, eye damage, sunstroke, skin cancer, etc.

b. Eat Vitamin D Rich Food: Natural Vitamin D sources include liver, eggs, beef liver, cheese, fishes such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, etc.

c. Take Enough Calcium: Calcium and Vitamin D work together and help the bones to become stronger. This is why we should include calcium in our diet, the rich sources of calcium are dairy products, leafy vegetables, fish, tofu, almonds, beans, lentils, whey protein.

d. Take Vitamin D Supplements: Few people may not get enough Vitamin D though they try the above processes. Therefore, it is suggested to take vitamin D supplements but only under the advice/observation of a physician or a health care professional.

e. Exercise Regularly: Researchers have also found that regular exercises such as jogging, running, playing basketball may increase the levels of vitamin D.

Written by MedPlus