What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Severe lack of vitamin D causes rickets, which shows up in children as incorrect growth patterns, weakness in muscles, pain in bones and deformities in joints. This is very rare. However, children who are deficient in vitamin D can also have muscle weakness or sore and painful muscles.
Lack of vitamin D is not quite as obvious in adults. Signs and symptoms might include:
Risks And Side Effects
What happens if you take too much vitamin D? Can you overdose on vitamin D?
Taking high doses of vitamin D causes your liver to produce a chemical called 25D, which makes calcium accumulate in your bloodstream. Youre most likely to experience symptoms of too much vitamin D when taking supplements in high doses for a long period of time. This can potentially cause side effects if levels of 25 in the blood become elevated.
Potential side effects can include high blood calcium levels exhaustion abdominal pain and digestive issues like nausea, constipation, diarrhea or loss of appetite increased thirst and dry mouth and possibly kidney stones. The best way to avoid experiencing vitamin D toxicity is to not take very high doses of vitamin D in supplement form, such as 10,000 IU per day for more than several days in a row. Instead, get the vitamin D you need from sunlight, a healthy diet and supplements in the recommended dosage range.
Q: Do Some People Naturally Have Lower Vitamin D Levels Than Others
A: People with darker skin pigmentation tend to have lower levels, as do people who use sunscreen, dont spend much time outdoors, or are overweight or obese. This is because vitamin D is fat soluble, so it gets trapped in fatty tissue and cant be used by the body as it should be. Gastrointestinal surgery, like gastric bypass, makes it difficult to absorb vitamin D. And as we age, we dont absorb vitamin D well, and we produce less.
Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter
One of the best things you can do to protect and improve your health is to stay informed. Your Health is a FREE e-newsletter that serves as your smart, simple connection to the world-class expertise of Johns Hopkins.
Recommended Reading: What Vitamins Are Good For Psoriasis
Watch Out For Added Sugar And Salt
Gummies and chewables often contain added sugar. In fact, many samples we looked at had sugar listed as the main ingredient.
There have been reports of children over-consuming gummy vitamins as they view them as sweets, so be sure to keep tasty versions of vitamins well out of reach once you’ve doled them out.
Effervescent tablets, which you dissolve in water and drink, are also one to watch out for. These tend to contain sodium, too much of which increases your risk of high blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure you should avoid all effervescent tablets that list sodium in the ingredients.
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.
Also Check: How To Stop Hair Loss Vitamins
How Much Vitamin D Is Too Much
Because vitamin D is fat soluble, there have been repeated warnings against overdosing. In 2002, the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Commission released its position the safety of vitamin D.
The report stated that a daily intake of 2,000 IU for adolescents, adults, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, and 1,000 IU for children may be taken for extended periods during the first 10 years of life with no risk of side effects and without medical supervision.
Most experts consider a daily intake of up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D to be safe for adults.
Since direct sunlight produces 10,000 IU of vitamin D in the human body, this may be the physiological upper limit.
Since vitamin D is potentially toxic, the state-approved limit is 50 mcg . However, this is a conservative limit and is likely 5 times too low.
Known cases of vitamin D toxicity with hypercalcemia in which the 25D concentration and vitamin D dose are known all point to an intake of 40,000 IU a day or more.
Excessive intake of vitamin D can only occur by taking dietary supplements. But one would have to take some 40,000 IU per day for several months to cause vitamin D overdose.
One-time massive-dose therapy involving high doses do not result in an overdose of vitamin D, even at doses in excess of 100,000 IU.
The symptoms of vitamin D intoxication include nausea, high calcium and phosphate levels in the blood, irregular heartbeat and kidney stones.
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need
From about late March/early April to the end of September, the majority of people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin.
Children from the age of 1 year and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Babies up to the age of 1 year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
A microgram is 1,000 times smaller than a milligram . The word microgram is sometimes written with the Greek symbol followed by the letter g .
Sometimes the amount of vitamin D is expressed as International Units . 1 microgram of vitamin D is equal to 40 IU. So 10 micrograms of vitamin D is equal to 400 IU.
Don’t Miss: What Is In Men’s One A Day Vitamin
Good Sources Of Vitamin D
From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
But between October and early March we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight. Read more about vitamin D and sunlight.
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods.
- fortified foods such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals
Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.
In the UK, cows’ milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it is not fortified, as it is in some other countries.
Vitamins And Minerals For Older Adults
Vitamins help your body grow and work the way it should. There are 13 essential vitamins vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins .
Vitamins have different jobs to help keep the body working properly. Some vitamins help you resist infections and keep your nerves healthy, while others may help your body get energy from food or help your blood clot properly. By following the Dietary Guidelines, you will get enough of most of these vitamins from food.
Like vitamins, minerals also help your body function. Minerals are elements that our bodies need to function that can be found on the earth and in foods. Some minerals, like iodine and fluoride, are only needed in very small quantities. Others, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, are needed in larger amounts. As with vitamins, if you eat a varied diet, you will probably get enough of most minerals.
Don’t Miss: Which Vitamin D Is Good For Depression
Factors That Might Affect Your Vitamin D Levels
Your vitamin D levels reflect many factors. For example:
Where you live. If you live in the northern states , you are at higher risk for a vitamin D deficiency because your skin may not be able to produce any vitamin D from sun exposure during the winter months.
Your age. Your skin’s ability to produce vitamin D drops with age. If you’re over age 65, you generate only one-fourth as much vitamin D as you did in your 20s.
Your skin color. People with darker skin typically have lower levels of vitamin D than lighter-skinned individuals. African Americans have, on average, about half as much vitamin D in their blood compared with white Americans.
Your weight. If you have a body mass index above 30, you may have low blood levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is stored in fat, so in people with obesity, less of the vitamin circulates in the blood, where it’s available for use by the body.
The foods you eat. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. The U.S. government started a vitamin D milk fortification program in the 1930s to combat rickets, a bone-weakening disease caused by vitamin D deficiency, which was a major public health problem at the time. Breakfast cereals and some types of orange juice may also be fortified, but this varies by brand. So, the amount of vitamin D you get from food depends on the food you eat and how much milk you drink.
When Is The Best Time To Take Vitamin D Morning Or Night
Vitamin D is an incredibly important vitamin, but its found in very few foods and is hard to obtain through diet alone.
As a large percentage of the world population is at risk of deficiency, vitamin D is one of the most common nutritional supplements.
However, many factors can influence its effectiveness, including when and how you take your daily dose.
This article explores the best time to take vitamin D to maximize its absorption and effectiveness.
Getting enough vitamin D is essential for your health, as studies indicate it may play a role in immune function, bone health, cancer prevention and more .
However, vitamin D occurs in very few food sources making it difficult to meet your needs if youre not getting regular sun exposure.
For older adults and people who have darker skin, are overweight or live in areas where sunlight is limited, the risk of deficiency is even higher (
Supplementing is an easy and effective way to meet your vitamin D needs, especially if youre at risk of deficiency.
Though vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to sunlight exposure, its found naturally in very few foods. Supplementing with vitamin D is an effective way to meet your needs and prevent deficiency.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it does not dissolve in water and is absorbed best in your bloodstream when paired with high-fat foods.
You May Like: What Vitamins To Take For Memory
What Are Vitamin D And Calcium
Vitamin D and calcium are nutrients that sustain healthy bones. They are also needed for:
Absorption of calcium and phosphorous
Immune system responses
Signaling between cells
Blood vessel flow
Without enough vitamin D or calcium, your parathyroid glands compensate by producing too much of their hormone, a condition called hyperparathyroidism. That can lead to bone weakening and increased fracture risk. Other problems from calcium and vitamin D deficiencies include:
Skeletal deformities in children ages 6-24 months
Muscle weakness in children and the elderly
Given the crucial role of both nutrients in bone health, The Endocrine Society and the Institute of Medicine recommend certain consumption levels based on age and health. They have not yet found, however, that taking vitamin D provides cardiovascular protection.
Q: Should People Consider Vitamin D Supplements
A: If the level of vitamin D in your blood is less than 20 nanograms per milliliter, your doctor may recommend taking a supplement. Many women already take calcium and vitamin D supplements together for bone health because vitamin D can help in calcium absorption, and they work best when taken together. Ask your doctor if supplements are right for you.
Don’t Miss: What Vitamins Build Up The Immune System
Common Uses Of Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 helps support immune health as well as various other important functions in the body. As part of your daily health routine, regular D3 supplementation can help protect you against seasonal and environmental threats. Additionally, by helping support immune cell function and promoting healthy immune responses, D3 can help reduce common oxidative stress.
The role that vitamin D3 plays in supporting bone strength allows it to be an important addition to a daily routine for those looking to maintain strong, healthy bones. As part of a healthy lifestyle, D3 can help achieve optimal peak bone mass to support a healthy musculoskeletal structure at any age.
Finally, vitamin D3 can be used to support heart health. A lack of vitamin D3 in the diet can be associated with high cholesterol, so with regular supplementation, you can promote healthy cholesterol levels to support heart and arterial health.
What Kind Of Vitamin D Supplement Should I Take
There are two different types of vitamin D. Vitamin D2 mainly comes from plant-based foods like UV grown mushrooms, or fortified foods and dietary supplements. Vitamin D3 comes from animals and supplements. Youll get D3 from fish oil, butter, liver, and egg yolks.
Vitamin D is available in supplemental form as a liquid, tablet, or capsule. Some doctors will even give vitamin D injections. D2 typically requires a prescription to get, and D3 is commonly available for purchase over-the-counter. There is some debate about whether D2 is stronger than D3 seeking medical advice is the best way to make sure you get the right form and dosage that you need.
The best form of vitamin D to take as a supplement is D3 although, D2 is acceptable, says Tod Cooperman, MD, founder of ConsumerLab. D3 is less likely to result in errors on blood tests, and high doses may raise levels better. In terms of formulations, liquids and pills are generally both fine . My preference is liquid drops, as you can easily adjust the dose. Plus, you can put it right on food or in a beverage, which should remind you that vitamin D, which is fat-soluble, should be taken with foods that contain fats to improve absorption.
Recommended Reading: How To Use Powder Vitamin C
Sunlight And Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a unique vitamin. This is because your body can make it when it is exposed to sunlight.
Many factors can reduce how much vitamin D your body makes, including:
- amount of skin exposed to sunlight
- you make less vitamin D as you get older
These factors make it hard to estimate the amount of vitamin D you make from sun exposure.
Fact: Adequate Vitamin D Is Linked With A Lower Risk Of Certain Cancers
Individuals with very low vitamin D levels are thought to be at increased risk for breast, colon, kidney, lung, and pancreatic cancers, says Carol Fabian, MD, an oncologist at the University of Kansas Cancer Medical Center in Kansas City and the chair of its cancer prevention research program. The Cleveland Clinic notes, too, that vitamin D may help lower the risk for prostate cancer.
The most at-risk groups are individuals who are obese or have darker pigmented skin and have lower levels of vitamin D but are not supplementing, notes Dr. Fabian. Other factors can also drive up the risk. Most people who are obese do not exercise much, and obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are also risk factors for breast, colon, kidney, lung, and pancreatic cancers, says Fabian. While vitamin D deficiency may not be directly upping cancer risk, an association between the two exists in some cases.
That said, a review published in May 2020 in Seminars in Cancer Biology suggests that there is strong data supporting a protective effect of vitamin D against several types of cancer.
Right now, there are challenges to vitamin D and cancer studies, a review published in October 2018 in Trends in Cancer Research noted. For example, the amounts of vitamin D provided to study participants varies greatly from study to study, and men and women respond to vitamin D supplementation in different ways.
You May Like: What Percent Vitamin C Serum Is The Most Effective
Recommended Reading: What Kind Of Doctor Specializes In Vitamin Deficiencies
What Experts Say About Vitamind Recommended Doses
So what are the VitaminD recommended doses? Well, right now there is not a strong a consensus on the use of this vitamin – certainly not as strong as there is for some other supplements. Here are some pub ished guidelines.
The Harvard School of Public Health offers a guideline for VitaminD recommended doses “The current recommended intake of vitamin D is 5 micrograms up to age 50. 10 micrograms between the ages of 51 and 70, and 15 micrograms after age 70. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Some good food sources include dairy products and breakfast cereals , and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.For most people, the best way to get the recommended daily intake is by taking a multivitamin.” NOTE: If your supplement uses IU instead of micrograms, 40IU = 1 microgram. So the Harvard recommendation for those between 51 and 70 years of age would be 10 X 40 or 400 IU Vitamin D recommended doses.
In May 2010 the International Osteoporosis Foundation issued new guidelines. These have been reported in Science Daily. Click here for IOF complete coverage of Vitamin D recommended doses