Vitamin D: Deficiency, Symptoms and Treatments

vitamin d

Vitamin D is important for the normal working of your body. Its deficiency can cause problems so it should be consumed in appropriate quantities either as part of food or through supplements.

Many researchers suggest that you need to take daily 400 vitamins. Current research suggests, that consuming 1,000 IU–4,000 IU (25–100 mcg) of vitamin D daily should be ideal for most people to reach healthy vitamin D blood levels.

In the same way, children aged  1-8  need the same amount of vitamin i.e. 1,000-4,000 IU

Read through this article if you have vitamin D deficiency and you want to know more about its symptoms and treatments.

Vitamins

A vitamin is a micronutrient essential for the proper functioning of an organism’s metabolism. You need them generally in small quantities.

Our body cannot make these nutrients at all or in enough quantities. Therefore, you can obtain from external sources as part of diet or supplements.

There are different types of vitamins like A, B1, B2, B3, B12, C, D, E, K, etc. These vitamins are into two groups based on their properties i.e. water-soluble and fat-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored easily in the body’s fat which means they can be kept in the body for longer and are readily available for usage. Some examples of fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Water-soluble vitamins can easily be transported inside the body through the medium of water but cannot be stored inside the body. Therefore, the excess vitamins get expelled from the body with urine. These vitamins should be part of your regular diet so that there is no shortage. Examples of water-soluble vitamins are vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C etc.

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that regulates many of your bodily systems. It is needed to maintain strong healthy bones and helps absorb calcium inside your bones which is their building block.

Vitamin DIt not only helps to keep your bones strong but also other bodily systems. Muscles and nerves require vitamin D for their activities i.e. to move and to send messages to and from brain and body parts.

The natural vitamin d production in our body is due to exposure to the sun.

It also strengthens your immune system fighting off foreign bodies, bacteria, and viruses.

How Much Vitamin Do You Need?

You do not need vitamin D in large quantities. The daily requirement of an active form of it is a few micrograms ranging from 10 mcg for newborns to 20 msg for older adults. It should be part of your everyday meal to avoid any shortages in your body.

Typically vitamin guidelines are established by the Institute of Medicine or other health care departments working in the country.

Research suggests that 20% of the vitamin comes from our diet while the rest of 80% comes from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun.

The amount of this vitamin in our body depends primarily on our age. The amounts are:

  • Birth to 12 months: 400 IU of vitamin
  • Children 1-13 years: 600 IU
  • Teens 14-18 years: 600 IU
  • Adults 19-70 years: 600 IU
  • Adults 71 and older adults: 800 IU
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers: 600 IU

Thus, people who are unable to intake these required amounts suffer from vitamin D deficiency. The units represent the International Units IU.

Which Foods Provide Vitamin D?

There are a few foods in which vitamin D naturally exists. The sources of the vitamin are:

  • Vitamin D requirmentsFish is a great source especially fatty fish including salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, and mackerel.
  • Meat i.e. Beef and liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified foods like breakfast cereals, fat spreads, milk, orange juice.

Vitamin D and Exposure to the Sun

Vitamin D is also known as sunshine vitamin. It is because sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D. Exposure to the sun,  makes vitamin D with cholesterol in our skin. The ultraviolet rays of the sun hitting the cholesterol give the energy to produce this vitamin.

Your body can meet some requirements of vitamins during exposure to the sun. It is also important to note that direct sunlight is the only way to stimulate its production.

Sunlight coming in through a window does not produce the same result. Similarly, cloudy days and dark skin affect sunlight absorption.

It is important that you tread with caution as continuous sun exposure can be risky and can cause skin cancer. Try to cover your skin with sunscreen and clothing to avoid too much exposure.

If you are not able to get much sunlight exposure or if your vitamin D level is very low, you can take supplements. The recommendations about vitamin D intake assume that you do not get much vitamin from other sources like the sun.

Why do You Need Them?

You need them because very few natural foods contain vitamin D. Sunbathing is also not possible in all parts of the world especially in winter which limits the production of vitamin D by the body.

fatigue and tirednessThis means everyone might not be able to get it through natural means which is why supplements are made available so that people can improve their vitamin D needs.

It is important that you see a doctor and ask his/her advice on the dosage when to take these supplements, and for how long.

Symptoms

Vitamin D not only helps in the working of bodily functions but also keeps you active and happy. In its absence, a deficiency may be there, and the symptoms may include:

  • Sickness or infection
  • Feeling low
  • Fatigue
  • Back pain or pain in joints
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Muscle pain

Conditions Caused by Vitamin D Deficiency:

If Vitamin D deficiency continues for long periods, it can cause certain medical conditions.

  • Osteoporosis
  • Cardiovascular conditions like heart and blood pressure problems
  • Rickets
  • Autoimmune problems causing infections
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurological Diseases
  • Infections
  • Osteomalacia
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Certain cancers, especially breast, prostate, and colon.

What is the Treatment?

If you experience different problems that arise because of vitamin D deficiency, you need to get immediate treatment by a specialist or a medical professional.

Even though the underlying cause is a deficiency of vitamin D, there are other treatments that a doctor would like to employ to make you feel better.

In case of improving deficiency, it is important that you track it and keep using certain ways approved by your doctor to replenish vitamin D in your body.

The amount of vitamin D needed by your body depends on the deficiency your body is facing.

You should talk with your doctor and set up a plan for your supplements. It is important that you get your vitamin levels checked after two months to be sure that the supplements are effective.

You can use the supplements on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis based on your preference and your doctor’s recommendation.

The time of the year when you are trying to improve your bodily vitamin levels also impacts your needs and the quantity you should consume through supplements.

For example, if it is wintertime and your doctor has diagnosed vitamin D deficiency in you, you would need to take more than what you might take in summer.

This is because there is limited exposure to the sun in winter than it is in summer. In summer, you would be able to get out in the sun for sunbathing or for a walk which can help a lot. The goal is to get your vitamin level to a safe point so that it doesn’t crash in the coming months of winter.

In terms of supplements, Vitamin D3 is the best choice for supplements. Vitamin D2 supplements do not raise your vitamin levels to the same point as D3 does. This is why doctors favor and recommend D3 supplements.

It is also important that you take your supplements with a meal containing fat. Since this vitamin is fat-soluble, the fat in the food provides a medium for the vitamin to be absorbed and transported. If you take the supplement empty stomach, it is less likely for the supplement to work better.

Who is at the risk?

The following risk factors can lead to deficiency. These risk factors are as follows:

  1. People who are obese
  2. Those who have a darker skin tone
  3. Limited exposure to sunlight
  4. Location of residence
  5. Not taking enough vitamins

YOu can reduce the risk of deficiency in your body by following the guidelines.

Requirements as Per Age Groups

Most often doctors or physicians take different age groups into account when they prescribe Vitamin D supplements. Requirements per age are:

  • Children 1-18: a suggested treatment for this age group is the intake of an active form of 2000IU/d of vitamin D3 for at least 6 weeks. Or with 50,000 IU/d for once in 6 weeks.
  • Older Adults. A suggested amount for adults by doctors is 50,000 IU/d of vitamin D3  in the active form once for 8 weeks. Or it’s equivalent to 6,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
  • Obese patients. The amount depends upon malnutrition or medications affecting vitamin D absorption.

For such patients, at least 6,000-10,000 IU/day) of vitamin D to treat this deficiency to maintain a 25(OH)D level above 30 ng/mL, followed by maintenance therapy of 3,000-6,000IU/day.

What Happens if I Take Too Much Vitamin D?

Taking supplements without the prescription of a doctor can cause high dosage. Having used vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause calcium build-up inside your body. This can adversely affect your kidneys, heart, and bone health as well.

There is a certain limit for individuals to consume vitamin D that ranges from 10 mcg (the lowest) for a newborn to 20 mcg (for the elderly).

Vitamin DA normal young or middle-aged individual only needs 15mcg daily. The supplements with 10 micrograms a day should be enough for you.

Taking extra dosage is not only harmful to normal people but it can also cause complications if you are pregnant.

The symptoms of vitamin D high dosage are headache and nausea generally, but they can also cause, constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth, and loss of appetite.

Healthy Diet Has No Alternative…

Having said that, the best solution for you is to get vitamin D from natural sources so that there is no danger of excessive use or any other problem.

Make sure your diet is balanced, you use all components of food to get all kinds of vitamins, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. In case of any deficiency, make sure to consult with your doctor before using any supplements.

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