Vitamin D Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Cost
Last Updated: Jul 06, 2023
What is Vitamin D deficiency?
Hypovitaminosis D or Vitamin D deficiency, can happen from inadequate nutritional intake of this vitamin or/and inadequate exposure to sunlight. There are also certain hereditary disorders that limit vitamin D absorption in the body. Impaired vitamin D conversion into active metabolites can lead to several kinds of bone diseases. Like rickets in children or osteoporosis in adults. Less vitamin D in your body can also play a vital role in development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Why do I need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D, commonly known as the 'sunshine vitamin' is a necessary nutrient that plays a crucial role in the health of our bones, muscles, and immune system. It aids in calcium absorption and supports strong bones, teeth, and muscles. It also helps in maintaining a healthy immune system, proper cell growth, reducing inflammation and preventing chronic diseases.
How do we get Vitamin D?
When sunlight, more specifically ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, are exposed to our skin, our bodies begin to manufacture vitamin D. This is why it's frequently called the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Additionally, you can consume Vitamin D through some food such as fatty fish, egg yolks, beef liver, and mushrooms.
How much Vitamin D do I need?
It is recommended that adults and children over the age of 1 should consume 600-800 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day. However, based on their unique demands, some people might need more or less.
What causes Vitamin D to drop?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient. It is required for the proper functioning of our body. Since it cannot be synthesized by the body, its deficiency can lead to serious health problems. Hence it is important for us to maintain a requirement of Vitamin D in our body and hence we should take sources rich in it. However, due to several reasons, there may be a drop in the level of Vitamin D which is a serious concern. Some of the causes for this deficiency include the following:
Wearing sunscreen by people due to fear of exposure to UV radiation and skin cancer is one of the common reasons for this. Due to this, Vitamin D which is synthesized in the effect of the Sun is not able to be synthesized and hence deficiency takes place.Sedentary lifestyles of the people and spending more hours indoors due to office and job is also a reason for deficiency of Vitamin D.
Summary: Vitamin D is an essential nutrient required for the proper growth and development of the body. Its level however can decrease in some individuals due to reasons such as wearing sunscreen and spending more hours indoors.
Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?
Certain groups of people may be at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, including those with darker skin, older adults, people who spend a lot of time indoors, and those who have a diet lacking in vitamin D-rich foods such as fatty fish, eggs, and fortified foods. Wearing sunscreen by people due to fear of exposure to UV radiation and skin cancer is one of the common reasons for this. Due to this, Vitamin D which is synthesized in the effect of the Sun is not able to be synthesized and hence deficiency takes place. Sedentary lifestyles of the people and spending more hours indoors due to office and job is also a reason for deficiency of Vitamin D.
Does low Vitamin D cause anxiety?
Recent studies have shown a strong correlation between low levels of vitamin D and the development of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. The underlying mechanisms behind this association are not fully understood, but it is thought that vitamin D plays a role in regulating the levels of various neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain that are important for mood regulation.
Vitamin D also plays a role in maintaining the overall health of the nervous system, including supporting the growth and survival of nerve cells, regulating inflammation and the immune system and supporting the formation of myelin sheath which is important for proper nerve impulse conduction. Therefore, a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to an imbalance in the body's physiology, immune system and nervous system that can result in mental health issues.
By controlling the amounts of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, vitamin D is also crucial for keeping strong bones. Homeostasis, a procedure, is used to achieve this. Consequently, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets are just a few of the bone-related issues that can result from low vitamin D levels.In severe cases, a deficiency may also lead to Schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. Therefore, it is important for individuals to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D in their bodies to prevent any potential mental health issues.
Summary: Vitamin D is a vital ingredient for preserving general health and wellbeing. A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to a number of physical and mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. The association between vitamin D and mental health is complex and multifaceted, and may be due to the fact that vitamin D plays a role in regulating various neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain, as well as maintaining the overall health of the nervous system, immune system and skeleton. It is significant to emphasize that additional study is required to properly comprehend how vitamin D affects mental health. However, it is clear that maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D is important for overall physical and mental well-being.
It can be difficult to identify if someone has vitamin D deficiency, particularly in newborns or adults. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may include;
- Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) can be a symptom of vitamin D deficiency, as it is caused by the overproduction of sweat by the sweat glands in response to low levels of vitamin D.
- Fatigue is a common symptom of deficiency, as vitamin D plays a crucial role in energy metabolism. Low levels of vitamin D can lead to decreased energy production and feelings of exhaustion.
- Mood swings, such as feelings of sadness or irritability, can also be caused due to the deficiency of vitamin D as it is involved in the regulation of hormones such as serotonin, which is responsible for regulating mood.
- Depression is also one of the main symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
- The lack of vitamin D, which is necessary for the absorption of calcium and the preservation of strong bones, frequently results in osteoporosis and brittle bones.
- Reduced muscle control is also caused by vitamin D deficiency as it is essential for muscle function and the maintenance of strong muscles.
It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other factors and a deficiency of vitamin D may not be the only cause. It is important to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis.
A doctor may order a blood test to determine the serum concentration of 25(OH)D in the patient, which is the type of vitamin D that circulates in the body. This is considered a good reflection of how much vitamin D the patient has absorbed from diet and sunlight. The test results are reported in nmol/L (nanomoles per liter) or ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). A doctor may also recommend a special bone density scan, if the patient is experiencing symptoms of brittle bones or osteoporosis.
To prevent deficiency, doctors may suggest;
- Increasing dietary intake of vitamin D-rich foods such fatty fish, eggs, and fortified meals to prevent deficiency. Other natural sources include beef, cheese, fish liver oil, egg yolks, and mushrooms. Some food manufacturers also fortify foods with vitamin D, especially those that are often eaten by children to reduce the risk of deficiency in infants. Such foods may include yogurt, breakfast cereals, baby milk, orange juice, and marmalade.
- In addition to dietary sources, increasing exposure to sunlight is also an effective way to boost vitamin D levels. The body can produce its own vitamin D when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun. When going outside, you should use sunscreen or cover your skin with clothing to protect it from the sun's damaging rays.
- Vitamin D supplementations under the guidance of the doctor are also an option to get proper dosage.
- If the deficiency is severe, it may require high-dose vitamin D therapy which may include oral or intravenous vitamin D administration.
- In order to raise vitamin D levels quickly, it is important to focus on both dietary and lifestyle changes. Consuming more vitamin D-rich foods and increasing exposure to sunlight are the best ways to boost levels quickly.
- In addition to increasing dietary intake of vitamin D-rich foods and spending more time outdoors, taking vitamin D supplements under the guidance of a healthcare professional can also help to raise levels quickly.
- Vitamin D supplements can come in different forms such as capsules, tablets, or liquid, the dosage will be prescribed by the doctor based on the patient’s requirements and it is important to follow the instructions to avoid overdose.
- It is also important to note that raising vitamin D levels quickly does not mean neglecting other healthy lifestyle habits such as maintaining a balanced diet and getting regular exercise, as these factors can also contribute to overall health and well-being.
How is vitamin D deficiency diagnosed?
Physical examination and a study of the patient's medical history are frequently the first steps in the diagnosis of vitamin D insufficiency. This may include questions about symptoms such as fatigue, bone pain or weakness, and any risk factors for deficiency.
The amount of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) in the blood is the most precise indicator of vitamin D insufficiency. This test is usually ordered by a healthcare provider and can be done at a lab or clinic. It measures the amount of 25(OH)D, which is the form of vitamin D that is stored in the body and reflects overall vitamin D status.
It is important to note that normal levels of 25(OH)D can vary depending on a person's age, sex, and overall health, and may also be influenced by factors such as the time of year and latitude. In general, a 25(OH)D level of 20 ng/mL or higher is considered sufficient, while a level below 20 ng/mL is considered deficient.
In addition to the blood test, a healthcare provider may also order additional tests to assess the health of bones and muscles, such as X-rays, bone density scans or muscle function tests.
Home Remedies for Vitamin D Deficiency?
While the primary treatment for vitamin D deficiency is usually a combination of vitamin D supplements and dietary changes, there are also several home remedies that may help to increase vitamin D levels.
Spending more time outside is one of the best methods to raise vitamin D levels. The sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are necessary for the body to produce vitamin D. So, getting regular, moderate sun exposure is essential. At least twice per week, try to receive at least 15-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure on your face, arms, legs, or back. It's also crucial to consume a diet full of foods that are high in vitamin D.
Meals rich in vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, and fortified foods. Regular consumption of these foods can assist to raise vitamin D levels. Additionally, vitamin D-rich foods can be added to the diet, such as fortified milk, cereal, and orange juice.Other home remedies for vitamin D deficiency include:
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity has been shown to increase vitamin D levels.
- Sleep well: A good night's sleep helps boost the immune system and regulate hormones, so it's essential to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
- Reduce stress: High levels of stress can lead to hormonal imbalances and can have a negative impact on overall health.
It's also important to note that while home remedies can be helpful in increasing vitamin D levels, they should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. It's important to work with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate course of treatment for vitamin D deficiency.
How long does it take to correct a Vitamin D deficiency?
The length of time required to correct a vitamin D deficiency depends on the individual's baseline deficiency level. Generally, it takes around two to three months for a person to achieve the recommended levels of vitamin D. A smaller proportion of the required intake can be obtained through diet, while a larger proportion is obtained through exposure to sunlight. For adults, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 IUs; for older persons, it is 800 IUs.
Summary: The duration required to replenish vitamin D levels in the body varies depending on the individual's deficiency level. On average, it typically takes two to three months to achieve the recommended levels of vitamin D.
Does Vitamin D affect sleep?
Vitamin D levels in the body are closely connected to the quality of sleep. According to studies, those with low vitamin D levels are more likely to have insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
Additionally, people with higher levels of vitamin D tend to have deeper and more restful sleep. The exact mechanism behind this relationship is not fully understood, but it is thought that vitamin D may play a role in regulating the body's circadian rhythm and melatonin production, which are both important for healthy sleep.
Summary: Vitamin D plays a role in regulating the sleep cycle, and a deficiency can cause poor quality and disrupted sleep. The quality of sleep may be enhanced by having adequate vitamin D levels.
How can I test my Vitamin D at home?
It is important to regularly check vitamin D levels in the body to ensure adequate intake and to prevent deficiencies. At-home vitamin D tests are widely available and are just as accurate as those done by medical professionals. These tests usually require a small blood sample, and the results will indicate the level of vitamin D in nanograms per liter or nanograms per milliliter. It's important to follow the instructions carefully and to seek medical advice if you have any doubts about the results.
Summary: Monitoring vitamin D levels at home is an effective and easy way to ensure proper levels of the nutrient in the body, which is vital for maintaining overall health and well-being. At-home testing kits are widely available and can provide accurate results, however consulting with a doctor before taking any self-diagnosis or self-treatment is recommended.
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