Vitamin D, also renowned as the sunshine vitamin, is the nutrient which is made by the skin when exposed to the sun and its ultraviolet rays and it in fact functions as a steroid that acts as a hormone which in effect has an impact on the gene manifestation in the cells of humans. It is made in the body, as a natural response to the rays of the sun. It can, however, also be found in some foodstuffs, though not many – some types of fish, and fish liver oil, as well as in yolks, and in dairy as well as grain products.
A lack of this vitamin can produce serious results, and the symptoms can be classified into two groups: short-term (what is experienced at the moment) and long-term or lasting (something not experienced until old age) symptoms.
Short Term Symptoms Of A Deficiency Of Vitamin D:
- A deteriorated immunity system: Many cells in the body contain receptor sites for this vitamin, which also contain cells of the immunity system. D vitamin reduces the chance of developing autoimmune diseases such as MS, as well as boosting the activity of the mentioned cells.
- Rickets: This is an ailment where the bone tissues fail to mineralize, and results in skeletal deformities and soft bones. It usually strikes only young children, due to a vitamin D deficiency, as well as a lack of phosphorus or calcium.
- Unexplained health problems: Vitamin D has many wide-ranging effects on body cells, and if you have any unexplained health indications, a blood test should be done for vitamin D deficiency.
- Depression: Low levels of vitamin D are likely linked with depression, as this nutrient, according to some studies, has helped reduce seasonal depression during the winter. The disorder SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) may also be caused by a lack of sunrays.
Long Term Symptoms Of A Deficiency Of Vitamin D:
- Cancer: A lack of this vitamin has been shown to have a high correlation with many kinds of cancer, and avoiding the sun can increase the risk of developing other kinds of cancers by causing low vitamin D levels.
- Osteoporosis: The regulation of the absorbing of calcium and the balance of calcium in the bones is an important role of this vitamin. Furthermore, a recognized symptom of a lack of this vitamin is deteriorated and weak bones, with the most severe cases resulting in osteoporosis.
Some other health issues are also linked with a deficiency of vitamin D, such as obesity, fatigue, muscle weakness, glucose intolerance, chronic pain, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, etc. Also, reduced levels of this vitamin have been linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, severe asthma in young people, as well as cognitive impairment in older people.
Which Are The Possible Cause Or Triggers Of Vitamin D Deficiency?
A lack of D vitamin can happen for many reasons:
- Limited sunlight exposure. It has already been mentioned that the body produces vitamin D when the skin is open to the sun’s rays, so a lack of it may occur in the northernmost places, if somebody wears clothes which do not allow them sun exposure, or in the case of employment that prevents exposure to the sun.
- Darker skin. Older people with dark skin may be at a higher risk of a deficiency of this vitamin due to melanin, a skin pigment, reducing the ability of the skin to produce vitamin D as a reaction to the sunlight.
- Obesity. This vitamin is removed by fat cells from the blood, which results in the adjusting of its release into the blood circulation. It is a fact that those who have a body mass index of 30 or more have depleted blood levels of vitamin D.
- An inadequate absorption of this vitamin by the digestive tract. This can be caused by ailments such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, which may have an effect on the ability of the intestines to absorb vitamin D from diet.
- The inability of the kidneys to convert the vitamin to the active form. With age, kidneys are not as capable of converting this vitamin to the active form, which in turn implies that the danger of vitamin D deficiency is increased.
- Insufficient consumption of the vitamin. Most of the sources of this nutrient are animal-based, and include fish and fish oils, cheese, egg yolks, milk, and liver. Thus, vegetarians are likely to suffer from a lack of this nutrient.
Are There Any Tests For Vitamin D Deficiency?
The best way to determine the level of vitamin D in the body may be the 25-hydroxy blood test, while the level of 20 – 50 nanograms/milliliter is believed to be suitable for those who enjoy good health. On the other hand, fewer than 12 ng/mL points to vitamin D deficiency. The recommended allowance is 600 units for those from year 1 to year 70, and 800 units for those older than 70.