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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. Reduces risk of heart diseases, circulation 2008

2. May stop or reverse progression of low-grade tumours

3. Reduces risk of diabetes type II, by regulating insulin levels

4. Facilitates functioning of immune system and nervous system

5. Helps in development and maintaining of bone and teeth health

6. Improves immunity, American journal of clinical nutrition, 2010

7. Keeps allergic diseases like asthma, atopic dermatitis and eczema at bay

8. Regulates absorption of essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.

9. Reduction in the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women

10. Safe and effective treatment strategy for multiple sclerosis, Journal of American Medical Association, 2006


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.


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?

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%)


Associated Diseases with Vitamin D deficiency

With mild Vitamin D 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. Scurvy, Rickets, Beriberi and Pellagra

7. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Body pains

8. Pain and weakness in bones and muscles

9. Osteomalacia, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis

10. Atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis

11. Erectile dysfunction, journal of sexual medicine 2014

12. Schizophrenia, journal of clinical endocrinology 2014

13. Heart diseases, according to research presented at American college of cardiology

14. 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:

1. Pollution (production decreases in polluted area)

2. Altitude (vitamin D production increases at higher altitudes)

3. Where you live (production is more in locations near equator)

4. Skin color (fair skinned people makes faster than dark skinned)

5. Time of the day (exposure in middle of the day produces more D3)

6. Surface are of the bare skin to be exposed (more the skin exposed, more is the absorption)

7. Yogic Sunbath: Exercise or practicing Yoga asana in the sun can boost vit-d absorption

8. Season (exposure in summer sun makes faster vitamin d- as atmosphere blocks UVB when sunrays enters at an angle)


2: Vit D supplements.

Vitamin D3 supplements possesses greater health benefits than vitamin D2. however, D3 are not vegetarian supplements, so if you have concern taking it you can take 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

  • 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. Some of the symptoms include…

1. Myalgia

2. Bone pain

3. Feeling thirsty

4. Loss of appetite

5. Increase urination

6. Constipation/diarrhoea

7. Feeling of tiredness, being sick

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

1. People with high blood calcium levels

2. People on drugs to regulate blood pressure

3. Certain medications like Carbamazepine, Phenytoin, Primidone, Barbiturates

4. People with Medical conditions like hyperparathyroidism, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, kidney and liver disease.


3: Vitamin D Rich Food.

It is almost impossible to get required amount of Vit-D through diet. Some of the food supplements for Vitamin D Deficiency are

1. Beef liver

2. Egg yolks

3. Infant formula

4. Fatty fish and fish oils

5. Cereals fortified with Vit-D

6. Milk and orange juice (fortified)


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 Vitamins level are almost normal, take most of vitamin d from sunlight or diet and leave supplements for those who are deficient in it.

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