Some individuals can end up with vitamin D deficiency if it is lacking in the diet. Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that the body requires to regulate the absorption of calcium. A deficiency can result to weak, brittle bones. Children who do not obtain enough might end up with rickets while adults are at higher risk for osteoporosis.
The required daily intake of vitamin D range from 200-600 IU but this amount should be increased as what some experts claim.
Indications of vitamin D deficiency
Individuals with vitamin D deficiency can suffer from bone pain and muscular weakness although the symptoms are initially mild. Children who have rickets can suffer from soft bones and skeletal deformities. If there is deficiency among adults, it can lead to osteomalacia which is a condition that weakens the bones. The doctor might require tests that measure the levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D.
The low levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream has been linked with various health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and certain forms of cancer. Nevertheless, further research is needed to ascertain if vitamin D can prevent or treat any of these conditions.
What are the possible causes?
A diet that lacks vitamin D and not getting enough sun exposure can result to vitamin D deficiency. The elderly, breastfed infants, individuals with dark skin and confined individuals are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Those who have issues with fat absorption due to conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, liver or kidney disease and gastric bypass surgery might not get enough vitamin D from the diet.
Sun exposure is also needed to produce vitamin D but it only takes 5-30 minutes of exposure on the arms, face, legs or back at 2 times every week without sunscreen to stimulate enough vitamin D production. Prolonged exposure to the sun will only increase the risk for skin cancer thus it is vital to utilize a sunscreen and limit the use of tanning beds.
Remember that vitamin D is not naturally present in various foods. Nevertheless, oily fish and cod liver oil are packed with vitamin D. Eggs, beef liver and even cheese also contain minimal amounts. Additionally, vitamin D is added to some foods such as fortified breakfast cereals and milk.
What happens if there is excess vitamin D?
The body stores fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D but prolonged exposure to the sun will not lead to toxicity. It might be hard to obtain enough vitamin D from foods even the fortified options unless the individual consumes large amounts of cod liver oil.
Vitamin D is also available as an over-the-counter supplement. Since the body stores the fat-soluble vitamins for an extended period, taking up large amounts of vitamin D can result to toxicity that causes vomiting, nausea, constipation, appetite loss, weight loss and weakness.
The elevated levels of vitamin D can also increase the blood levels of calcium possibly resulting to mental confusion and erratic heart rhythms. If the individual has any health issues, it is vital to consult a doctor before using any vitamin D supplements and carefully follow the directions on the labelling.