Vitamin D Deficiency: Associated health risks

You may have Vitamin D deficiency…

If you avoid the sun, have milk allergies, have high melanin levels (dark skin), adhere to a strict vegan diet and if you suffer from excessive sweating, chronic bones pain, unexplainable low mood & weakness, have digestion issues and suffer from chronic kidney disease.

 

 Why is Vitamin D essential?
  1. Regulates absorption of essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.
  2. Helps in development and maintaining of bone and teeth health
  3. Facilitates functioning of immune system and nervous system
  4. Proves as a safe and cost effective treatment strategy for multiple sclerosis, journal of American medical association,2006
  5. Improves immunity, American journal of clinical nutrition, 2010
  6. May stop or reverse progression of low-grade tumors
  7. Reduces risk of diabetes type II, by regulating insulin levels
  8. Keeps allergic diseases like asthma, atopic dermatitis and eczema at bay
  9. Reduces risk of heart diseases, circulation 2008
  10. Associated with reduction in the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women

 

Synthesis of vitamin D

Sunlight converts cholesterol in the skin into calciol, which is converted into clacidiol in liver. In kidneys calcidiol is converted into the active form of vitamin D i.e. calcitriol. So synthesis of vitamin D3 is dependent on adequate functioning of liver and kidneys.

Further, synthesis of vitamin D gets inhibited by taking drugs like statins, which reduces cholesterol synthesis.

 

What causes the deficiency?
  1. Obesity
  2. Digestion issues
  3. Liver and Kidney issues
  4. Not getting enough sun exposure
  5. Inadequate Intake by diet or by supplements
  6. Your body’s requirement is more than you consume

 

Who is at risk of Vitamin D deficiency?
  1. Older people
  2. Pregnant women
  3. Obese/overweight individuals
  4. People living far from equator
  5. Exclusively breast feeding babies
  6. Individuals with darker skin tone
  7. People living in the northern hemisphere, countries where the sun angle is shallow
  8. People spending a lot of time indoors, or cover their skin all the time they go out or use sunscreens (sunscreens with SPF 30 decreases body’s ability to synthesize vitamin D by 95%)

 

Diseases associated with Vitamin D deficiency

With mild deficiency, you may have vague symptoms like tiredness and general aches, while some may not develop any of the deficient signs. However, with more severe deficiency you can have following signs and symptoms:

  1. Dementia
  2. Depression
  3. Diabetes type 2
  4. Frequent infections
  5. Inflammatory bowel diseases
  6. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Body pains
  7. Pain and weakness in bones and muscles
  8. Osteomalacia, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis
  9. Atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis
  10. Erectile dysfunction, journal of sexual medicine 2014
  11. Schizophrenia, journal of clinical endocrinology 2014
  12. Heart diseases, according to research presented at American college of cardiology
  13. May pose risk to develop prostate cancer, journal clinical cancer research 2014

 

How to overcome Vitamin-D deficiency?

According to Vitamin-D Council deficiency of Vitamin D can be checked by:

1 :: Safe Sun exposure It is a natural and cost effective way to replenish Vit-D stores. For this you don’t need to tan your skin, expose your bare skin for around 15 minutes at a time. Absorption of UVB is dependent on:

  • Pollution (production decreases in polluted area)
  • Time of the day (exposure in middle of the day produces more D3)
  • Altitude (vitamin D production increases at higher altitudes)
  • Skin color (fair skinned people makes faster than dark skinned)
  • Where you live (production is more in locations near equator)
  • Surface are of the bare skin to be exposed (more the skin exposed, more is the absorption)
  • Season (exposure in summer sun makes faster vitamin d- as atmosphere blocks UVB when sunrays enters at an angle)

 

2 :: Vitamin D supplements Vitamin D3 supplements possesses greater health benefits than vitamin D2. however, vitamin D3 are not vegetarian supplements, so if you have concern taking it you can take vitamin D2 supplements instead. According to vitamin D council, daily requirement is

  • Infants – 1,000IU/Day
  • Children- 1,000 IU/Day
  • Adults- 5,000IU/Day

Safe maximum limit to take Vit-D

  • Infants – 2,000IU/Day
  • Children- 2,000IU/Day
  • Adults- 10,000IU/Day

If you consume more than required amount, your body will have a hard time to get rid of it, as it a fat soluble vitamin.

Fair skin people can produce 10,000-25,000IU of Vit-D with a little bit of full body sun exposure. If you take more than 40,000IU for a couple of months it can lead to vitamin toxicity. Excess amount of vitamin D can increase level of blood calcium leading to hypercalcaemia. Symptoms include

  • Feeling of tiredness, being sick
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Increase urination
  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Myalgia
  • Bone pain

Can everyone take Vit-D Supplements? Most people can take it without any complications but care is needed for following:

  • People on drugs to regulate blood pressure
  • People with medical conditions like hyperparathyroidism, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, kidney and liver disease.
  • People with high blood calcium levels
  • Certain medications like Carbamazepine, Phenytoin, Primidone, Barbiturates

 

3 :: Vitamin D rich Food It is almost impossible to get required amount of Vitamin-D through diet. Some of the food rich in vitamin D

  • Fatty fish and fish oils
  • Beef liver
  • Cereals fortified with Vit-D
  • Milk and orange juice (fortified)
  • Egg yolks
  • Infant formula

 

There are some contradictory studies related to Vitamin-D supplements, some showing adverse side effects as well. So the rule of thumb is if your Vitamin levels are almost normal, take most of vitamin d from sunlight or diet and leave supplements for those who are deficient in it.

Aashish Nanda

I am not a Spiritual Guru. I am not a Healer. I am not a Coach. I am not a Transformer. After trying to define myself, with various labels, I realized that I am simply a Muser... I just pen down what appeals to me. Please consult a professional guide, in case you need any advice.

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