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Vitamins are extremely important for proper functioning of various body systems. Vitamin D3 plays a very crucial role in the proper functioning of bones and joints. Deficiency of this vitamin is quite common, but can be identified and managed easily. Read on to know more about its functions, causes of deficiency, symptoms, and management.
Function: Vitamin D3 is essential for the absorption of calcium from the food that is consumed. A decrease in the amount of vitamin D3 leads to poor calcium absorption, resulting in thin, soft, brittle bones.
Causes: Some of the possible causes of vitamin D3 deficiency (and ways to manage them) are listed below:
Reduced intake: People with a strict vegan diet may be consuming reduced amounts of this important chemical. Most natural food sources are animal based including fish, fish oils, fortified milk, egg yolks and beef liver.
Limited sun exposure: People who spend a lot of time indoors are likely to have this deficiency. People who wear sunscreen constantly, wear long robes for religious reasons, live in the polar areas, upper/lower hemispheres are all prone to vitamin D3 deficiency.
Darker complexion: The body’s ability to make vitamin D3 when exposed to the sun is reduced if there is more melanin in the skin.
Obesity: Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells and people with BMI of more than 30 have a vitamin deficiency.
Symptoms: While some people may go completely asymptomatic with this condition, others could develop significant symptoms.
Bone pain and aches: When there is less calcium getting incorporated into the bones, pains and aches leading to fatigue are common.
Depression: The areas of the brain that regulate mood contain vitamin D receptors, and low levels of this vitamin can lead to depression. They are also at higher risk of developing cognitive conditions like schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
Gut problems: Vitamin D is fat soluble and in people with stomach conditions like Crohn’s or IBD, the gut functioning is altered and so vitamin D absorption is reduced.
Increased risk of heart disease: Both the risk of developing heart disease and the severity of the disease went up considerably when there is vitamin D deficiency. This is given their role in controlling inflammation and improving immune function.
Lesser chances of surviving cancer: In patients with colorectal cancer, lymphoma, and breast cancer, increasing vitamin D levels improved cancer prognosis by 4%. The chances of developing prostate cancer are also increased in patients with vitamin D3 deficiency.
Management: Providing the required amounts of vitamin D3 through diet and supplements is the best way to manage this. Check with a doctor to know the optimal levels and plan for replacement accordingly.