According to scientists vitamin D deficiency could trigger several serious life threatening diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and certain types of depression.
It is well known that our body is not able to produce vitamin D and the primary source of vitamin D is the sun. Second source of vitamin D could be certain types of food including fatty fish, fish liver oils, beef liver and cheese.
Vitamin D deficiency risk factors
Vitamin D deficiency depends on geographic location, race, age, lifestyle and some other factors.
It is well known that avoiding sunlight (ultraviolet rays) can help keep skin healthy and looking young but it can also deprive us of the primary source of vitamin D. As actually the sun is necessary factor for vitamin D production, it is obvious that people from north countries (northern latitudes) with long winter and long evenings are at more risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Only few foods (mainly animal foods) are good natural sources of vitamin D – fatty fish, fish liver oils, beef liver, cheese, fortified milk and egg yolks. Exclusion of mentioned foods could be the reason for vitamin deficiency.
Dark skin contains higher levels of melanin which reduces the skin ability to produce vitamin D from the sun. Actually skin pigmentation reduces vitamin D production in the skin.
It was noted that after 65 skin ability to produce vitamin D from regular sun exposure is reducing. At the same time, as people age, their kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form – another risk component for deficiency of vitamin D. There can be as much as 25% reduced vitamin D production over the age of 70. In total about 40-90% seniors are experiencing deficiency of vitamin D.
Few studies noted decreased levels of vitamin D in overweight and obese people. It is believed that the fat under the skin holds onto the fat-soluble vitamin instead of releasing it – vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into the circulation. This is why women with high BMI (Body Mass Index over 30) often have low blood levels of vitamin D.
Some digestive diseases including Crohn’s disease and celiac disease can make it difficult for the body to absorb vitamin D from food sources.
In most cases kidney diseases (especially chronic types) trigger problems in vitamin D absorption and utilization. Sick kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form.
Several medications can enhance the breakdown of vitamin D and lead to vitamin deficiency. These medications include few groups – antifungal drugs, anticonvulsants, glucocorticoids, and medications to treat AIDS/HIV
According to medical experts, the vitamin D deficiency develops when the level of vitamin D in blood is below 20 ng/mL, vitamin D insufficiency is diagnosed at vitamin D levels 21-29 ng/mL and adequate (normal) levels of vitamin D are 30-60 ng/mL.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms
Vitamin D and sunshine
Muscle and/or joint pain and weakness
On-going muscle/joint pain which lasts for several weeks could be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. It is strongly recommended to add vitamin D to any treatment program.
Chronic bone pain could be the indication of vitamin D and calcium deficits.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, because it helps the body use calcium from the diet.
Usually body stops building bone mass after 30, and lack of vitamin D can speed up or worsen osteoporosis.
Tiredness or fatigue
Visible and unexpected tiredness, fatigue or weakness can be classified as typical symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Simple supplements can help you to fight mentioned symptoms.
Bad mood, down mood, depression – all these conditions are actually linked to the shortage of vitamin D. The association between lack of sunlight and depressive disorders was first noted 2,000 years ago. Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine production in the brain (through vitamin D receptors in the adrenal cortex) as well as protecting against the depletion of serotonin and dopamine. This is the possible link between D and depression.
Non-stop sweating or sweating without any reasons (without intensive physical exercises) could be the indication of decreased levels of vitamin D.
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Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.