Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced by the body in response to the skin’s exposure to sunlight. It is also found in certain foods such as fish, egg yolks, fish liver oil, grain products, and fortified dairy. Vitamin D sources are common, but if you are a strict vegetarian, suffer from milk allergies, or cover yourself from sunlight, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is necessary for proper body functioning and serves different purposes. Its includes aiding the use of calcium in the body and stronger bones. It can cause rickets, a disease characterised by improper mineralization of bone tissues, leading to skeletal deformities and soft bones. More research suggests that vitamin D helps to protect against different health problems.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms and health risks
It may cause weakness of muscle and bone pain, but these symptoms are subtle in many people. Even without symptoms, It may cause different health risks.
Low blood levels of vitamin D may result in the following;
- Severe asthma in children
- Increases risk of cardiovascular disease, leading to death
- Cognitive impairment in older adults
Research shows that vitamin D may help prevent and treat different conditions, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis, and hypertension.
Reasons of vitamin D deficiency
It may result from different reasons such as;
Intake of vitamin D below the required levels over time
This will likely occur if you are a full vegetarian because most natural sources of vitamin D are animal-depended. These sources include egg yolk, beef liver, fortified milk, fish oils and fish.
Limited expose to sunlight
The body produces vitamin D if the skin is display to sunlight – you can have an increased risk of having vitamin D deficiency if you are always indoors, wear long clothes and head covering, work in a place that prevents exposure to sun or live in the northern latitudes. It is more prevalent during winter due to limited sunlight.
Melanin reduces ability of the skin to synthesise vitamin D if exposed to sunlight. Some studies have shown that older people with darke skin have a higher risk of vitamin D insufficiency.
The inability of the kidney to change vitamin D to an active form
Ageing reduces the kidney’s ability to change vitamin D to its active form, which increases the risk of vitamin D insufficiency.
The inability of the digestive system to adequately absorb the vitamin D
Some medical conditions such as celiac cystic, fibrosis, disease and Crohn’s disease can affect intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D through food.
Fat cells extract vitamin D, affecting its release into the circulation. People whose BMI is 30 or above have low levels of vitamin D in the blood.
Vitamin D deficiency test
The most accurate measurement of vitamin D level in the body is a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test.
Normal result – 20nanograms/millilitre– 50ng/mL
Deficiency – less than 12ng/mL
Vitamin D deficiency treatment
Treatment of vitamin D deficiency involves more intake of vitamin D through supplements, diet and healthy eating. Although no set level of Vitamin D for healthy body functioning is available and vitamin D requirement varies, depending on health conditions and age, a concentration of less than 20ng/mL is inadequate.
Vitamin D recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 600 international units (IU) for people between 1 – 70 and 800IU for adults more than 70 years to optimise bone health. The safer upper limit for vitamin D is 4,000IU, but the doctor can prescribe higher for vitamin D deficiency in some cases.
You should speak to your private GP about getting vitamin D supplement if you do not have sufficient exposure to the sun or always cover your skin. You can contact Private GPs London on 020 73599880 to speak to a doctor about your vitamin D deficiency concerns.