What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by specific medical conditions, such as:
- Cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease: These diseases do not allow the intestines to absorb enough vitamin D through supplements.
- Weight loss surgeries. Weight loss surgeries that reduce the size of the stomach and/or bypasses part of the small intestines make it very difficult to consume sufficient quantities of certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These individuals need to be carefully monitored by their doctors and need to continue to take vitamin D and other supplements throughout their lives.
- Obesity: A body mass index greater than 30 is associated with lower vitamin D levels. Fat cells keep vitamin D isolated so that it is not released. Vitamin D deficiency is more likely in obese people. Obesity often makes it necessary to take larger doses of vitamin D supplements in order to reach and maintain normal D levels.
- Kidney and liver diseases: These diseases reduce the amount of an enzyme needed to change vitamin D to a form that is used in the body. Lack of this enzyme leads to an inadequate level of active vitamin D in the body.
Why Healthy Fats Are Important For The Absorption Of Vitamin D
If you don’t eat fatty foods, you could have issues with absorption of Vitamin D3. As Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, if you have a low-fat diet it will limit your access to Vitamin D3. If you don’t eat eggs or oily fish try taking a spoonful of coconut oil to help the absorption of fortified foods, such as cereals and soya milk.
Which Foods Contain Vitamin D
Our foods dont naturally have vitamin D, there are very few foods that do. So, you can have fortified foods in your diet, Qureshi explains.
The good news is foods fortified with the nutrient, meaning products with added vitamins, are often household staples.
WATCH: Foods that can keep you from getting sick
In Canada, cows milk and margarine must be fortified with vitamin D. Goats milk, certain soy beverages, cheese, yogurt and orange juice are also often fortified.
Foods that naturally contain the nutrient are limited to fatty fish, such as salmon or tuna, and egg yolks.
The Dietitians of Canada associationlists on its website exactly how much vitamin D each food contains.
You May Like: How Often To Apply Vitamin C Serum
The Role Of Vitamin D3
Another surprising thing about vitamin D3? Its not actually a vitamin, but a pro-hormone. Its considered a pro-hormone because the body is able to produce it on its own by absorbing sunlight on the skin.
Other vitamins and nutrients are unable to be produced by the body and therefore must be obtained via diet and supplements. The body needs to store a healthy amount of vitamin D in order absorb phosphorous and be able to maintain normal levels of calcium. In fact, vitamin D is essential to many functions in the body:
- Vitamin D is necessary for the maintenance of strong bones and healthy teeth.
- Keeping a healthy store of vitamin D gives added protection to such diseases as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.
- Helps with diabetes management and maintaining healthy insulin levels.
- Vitamin D offers immune support as well as protection to the nervous system and the brain.
- Vitamin D is essential to the health of the lungs and cardiovascular system.
- Helps inhibit the development of cancer.
Signs Of Deficiency And Toxicity
Vitamin D deficiency may occur from a lack in the diet, poor absorption, or having a metabolic need for higher amounts. If one is not eating enough vitamin D and does not receive enough ultraviolet sun exposure over an extended period , a deficiency may arise. People who cannot tolerate or do not eat milk, eggs, and fish, such as those with a lactose intolerance or who follow a vegan diet, are at higher risk for a deficiency. Other people at high risk of vitamin D deficiency include:
- People with inflammatory bowel disease or other conditions that disrupt the normal digestion of fat. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that depends on the guts ability to absorb dietary fat.
- People who are obese tend to have lower blood vitamin D levels. Vitamin D accumulates in excess fat tissues but is not easily available for use by the body when needed. Higher doses of vitamin D supplementation may be needed to achieve a desirable blood level. Conversely, blood levels of vitamin D rise when obese people lose weight.
- People who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, which typically removes the upper part of the small intestine where vitamin D is absorbed.
Conditions resulting from prolonged vitamin D deficiency:
Symptoms of toxicity:
- Weight loss
- Irregular heart beat
- Hardening of blood vessels and tissues due to increased blood levels of calcium, potentially leading to damage of the heart and kidneys
You May Like: How Much Vitamin C Should A Person Take Daily
What Is Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency means that you do not have enough vitamin D in your body. Vitamin D is unique because your skin actually produces it by using sunlight. Fair-skinned individuals and those who are younger convert sunshine into vitamin D far better than those who are darker-skinned and over age 50.
How Does Vitamin D Work
Vitamin D was discovered in the early 1920s by scientists researching malnutrition diseases, most notably rickets. This is a weak-bone disease that affects predominantly children, causing pain, motion problems, and bowed legs. It has since been curbed with vitamin D-fortified foods, and cases of rickets are now rare in the United States.
Like all vitamins, D is essential for good health and is needed only in trace amounts. It can also be obtained from a very few natural foods, such as egg yolks, beef liver, tuna, cod liver oil, salmon, and sardines. These natural foods listed above canât come close to fulfilling your recommended daily intake of vitamin D of at least 15mcg for an adult, and you would have to eat them nearly every day.
Unlike other vitamins that must be obtained solely from dietary sources, vitamin D can be synthesized naturally by the body from sunlight. Getting vitamin D from the sun is perhaps your best shot at making a significant dent in your RDI needs.
Hereâs the interesting part
Whether you get vitamin D from sunlight, natural foods, or dietary supplements, it must first be converted by the kidney and liver into an active form before it can be beneficial for your body.
You see, vitamin D is available in multiple chemical forms, of which vitamin D2 and D3 are the two major types.
Also Check: What Are The Best Vitamins For Women’s Health
What Is Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin produced by our body when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays from sunlight. It is also present in some foods, which should be a part of your diet to maintain adequate vitamin D levels in your body.
Some of the benefits of this vitamin include being responsible for maintaining adequate concentrations of calcium and phosphate, which are the key to the health of our bones. It also enables our immune system to function normally.
Can Medications Cause A Vitamin D Deficiency
Yes. Vitamin D levels can be lowered by certain medications. These include:
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs .
- Seizure-control drugs .
- A tuberculosis drug .
- A weight-loss drug .
Always tell your doctor about the drugs you take and any vitamin D supplements or other supplements or herbs/alternative health products that you take.
Don’t Miss: What Vitamins Should A 24 Year Old Woman Take
How Is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated
The goals of treatment and prevention are the sameto reach, and then maintain, an adequate level of vitamin D in the body. While you might consider eating more foods that contain vitamin D and getting a little bit of sunlight, you will likely be told to take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 and D3. D2, also called ergocalciferol, comes from plants. D3, also called cholecalciferol, comes from animals. You need a prescription to get D2. D3, however, is available over the counter. It is more easily absorbed than D2 and lasts longer in the body dose-for-dose. Work with your doctor to find out if you need to take a vitamin supplement and how much to take if it is needed.
Vitamin D Sprays Are A Clever Hack
He adds: “a clever way to bypass the digestive system is to use an oral spritz that you spray inside the cheek, which will be ingested directly into the bloodstream through the myriad of blood vessels inside the cheek lining, bypassing the digestive tract. I recommend Dlux 3,000 spray, which contains 3,000 international units in one spray. While that sounds like a lot, scientists are now pointing to 4,000-5,000 units per day.”
You May Like: What Vitamin Is Best To Boost Immune System
What Happens When You Dont Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D insufficiency affects almost 50 percent of the population worldwide, with an estimated 1 billion people worldwide having a vitamin D deficiency. In children, a true vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, rare disease that causes bones to become soft and bend. In adults, a serious lack of vitamin D can cause osteomalacia, a disease that causes weak bones, bone pain and muscle weakness.
Now before you run to the store to buy a large amount of vitamin D supplements, Carpenter notes that it is possible to get too much vitamin D. If your vitamin D levels are too high, then you can be at risk for hypercalcemia. This condition can actually weaken your bones, create kidney stones and interfere with how your heart and brain work.
There is not a toxicity of vitamin D that you can get from the sun, Carpenter explained, whereas you can get too much vitamin D by taking too many supplements.
She highly recommends getting your daily dose of vitamin D through everyday sunlight, but if that is not possible, then she recommends speaking to a health care provider before taking any supplements in addition to a multivitamin.
How Often Do You Need To Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked
Doctors do not usually order routine checks of vitamin D levels, but they might need to check your levels if you have certain medical conditions or risk factors for vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes vitamin D levels can be checked as a cause of symptoms such as long-lasting body aches, a history of falls or bone fractures without significant trauma.
You May Like: What Vitamins Should A Postmenopausal Woman Take
What Is Vitamin D And How Does The Body Absorb It
Nutritional therapist and functional health practitioner, Eve Kalinik explains: “Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that the body creates when we expose our skin to sunlight, and it is also found in some foods. It is a bit of a misnomer to label it a vitamin because it acts more like a hormone in the body, with a crucial role in maintaining strong and healthy bones, supporting the immune system, and for cardiovascular health.”
Henrietta Norton, Nutrition and Co-Founder of Wild Nutrition says, “when your skin is exposed to sunlight , it is able to synthesise Vitamin D which your liver and kidneys metabolise to make it biologically active.”
Why You Need Vitamin D
Vitamin D absorbs calcium and helps you maintain strong bones. It also contributes to the health of your muscles, nerves, and immune system.
If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you may be at risk for developing rickets, osteoporosis and other bone disorders, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. Over 41 percent of U.S. adults don’t get enough vitamin D. Older adults, people with dark skin, and those who are obese are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.
Also Check: Does Vitamin E Help With Acne
Can You Have Too Much Vitamin D
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10g a day will be enough for most people.
People who take supplements are advised not to take more than 100g of vitamin D a day, as it could be harmful .
This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17.
Children aged 1 to 10 shouldn’t have more than 50g a day. Babies under 12 months shouldn’t have more than 25g a day.
Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to take as much vitamin D safely.
If in doubt, you should talk to your doctor. If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.
The amount of vitamin D contained in supplements is sometimes expressed in international units , where 40 IU is equal to 1 microgram of vitamin D.
There’s no risk of your body making too much vitamin D from sun exposure, but always remember to cover up or protect your skin before the time it takes you to start turning red or burn.
Page last reviewed: 31 August 2018 Next review due: 31 August 2021
Excessive Tiredness And Fatigue
If youâre overly lethargic, weak, and fatigued, low vitamin D levels in your body could be to blame. In a 2015 study, scientists showed that extreme vitamin D deficiency can cause serious fatigue that can affect oneâs quality of life. In another 2010 research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers found that extremely low blood levels of vitamin D can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness . This is a symptom of hypersomnia often linked to chronic fatigue.
Even vitamin D blood levels that aren’t extremely low can hurt your energy levels, as noted by another 2013 study involving 80 women. At the end of the study, researchers reported that vitamin D sufficient participants were less likely to experience fatigue than their vitamin D insufficient counterparts.
The good news is that getting enough vitamin D from the sun or taking supplements can ameliorate fatigue and excessive tiredness. This seems to be corroborated by the same 2010 study mentioned above, in which a 28-year-old lady managed to alleviate these symptoms by improving her vitamin D blood levels to 39 ng/ml in a period of 4 months.
Itâs important to note that tiredness and fatigue can have multiple other causes, including sedentary lifestyle, high-carbs diet, sleep deprivation, poor hydration, and food intolerances.
Read Also: Is Eliquis A Vitamin K Antagonist
How Much Sun Exposure Is Required To Acquire Vitamin D
Your body makes some Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight and some from a healthy diet, but the recommended amount of time is only 10-15 minutes of unprotected sunlight per day, Daya points out.
Note:You cannot access UVB rays through glass, so sitting in a sunny window will not help you to increase your Vitamin D levels. Sunshine needs to directly hit the skin for your body to reap the benefits.
How Much Vitamin D To Take
There are few foods containing vitamin D that you can naturally add to your diet. Therefore, you have to resort to dietary supplements to increase the amount of vitamin D in your body.
Nutritionists and scientists have not agreed on an amount of the vitamin that is just enough for the body. What they do agree on is that if you exceed a certain amount of the vitamin, you will experience unpleasant side effects.
They recommend only 1000 IU to babies under the age of six months. Those who are between 7 months and a year old can only tolerate 1500 IU of vitamin D. Toddlers from age 1 to 3 years shouldnt exceed 2500 IU, whereas children from 4 to 8 years should have a maximum of 3000 IU of vitamin D.
From 9 years onwards into adulthood, the highest tolerated intake of vitamin D is 4000 IU. Intake past these recommended amounts will likely result in the undesirable symptoms mentioned above.
Vitamin D is a critical vitamin for the body, and its important to remember that too-low levels can also put you at risk for negative health effects. The best course of action is to get your vitamin D levels tested and talk to your doctor about how to safely increase your vitamin D intake, if necessary.
Recommended Reading: Where Do You Get Vitamin B
Editorial Sources And Fact
What Are Vitamin D Supplements Good For And What Is The Recommended Daily Dose
The World Health Organisation suggests that everyone takes a Vitamin D supplement regardless of sun exposure or diet. These are available in capsules, tablets and sprays,” says Daya.
Sophie Dillon agrees, stating that “it’s important for an ageing population, in particular, to take vitamin D supplements – especially since they can be likely to spend less time outdoors.”However, she recommends always speaking with your GP before starting a dosage.
Also Check: Can I Buy Vitamin D2 Over The Counter