Vitamin D Deficiency:

Vitamin D deficiency is a condition where the body lacks sufficient amounts of vitamin D, leading to health issues such as brittle bones and muscle weakness.

What does vitamin D do?

Vitamin D aids in absorbing calcium and phosphorus. It is crucial for maintaining bone health and restoring calcium, which is present in 99% of bones. Insufficient vitamin D can lead to weak bones. It supports immune function and reduces the risk of autoimmune diseases.

Researchers suggest a link between long-term vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune conditions like diabetes, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Some studies suggest a connection between vitamin D and protection against cancer, heart disease, infections, and COVID, but more research is needed to confirm these claims.

How do we get Vitamin D?

Ultraviolet Light:

Vitamin D3 is formed in human skin through the breakdown of 7-dehydrocholesterol by UVB light, and its absorption can vary greatly due to the chemical reaction.

Food Sources:

  • Fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon and mackerel.
  • Egg yolks
  • Cheese
  • Beef liver
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified milk (cow milk and soy milk)
  • Cereals and oat meal
  • Orange juices

What causes vitamin D deficiency?

Some individuals are more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency due to various factors, despite the body’s ability to produce it. For example

  • Not enough exposure to sunlight
  • Darker skin pigment
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Malnutrition
  • Breastfeeding
  • Certain medications
  • Lymphoma (a type of cancer)
  • Family history (childhood rickets)

Some individuals struggle with vitamin D absorption due to health conditions such as

  • Crohn’s disease,
  • Celiac disease,
  • Cystic fibrosis,
  • Bariatric surgery for weight loss,
  • Resection of the small intestine, or pancreatic conditions like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Vit D deficiency typically doesn’t cause symptoms, but some individuals may experience vague symptoms that could indicate various conditions.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Myalgia or muscle pain
  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • A sensation of tingling or “pins and needles” in the hands or feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasm
  • Muscle twitches
  • Osteoporosis
  • A history of broken bones
  • Bowed legs
  • Bone fragility (especially in older adults)
  • Arthralgias, or joint stiffness

Long-term vitamin D deficiency can lead to various complications, including:

  • Infections
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Autoimmune problems
  • Neurological diseases
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Breast, prostate, and colon cancer

How is vitamin D deficiency diagnosed?

Identifying vitamin D deficiency is challenging due to the absence of symptoms. 25(OH)D, also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D, is the most accurate method for measuring the level of vitamin D in the blood.  A blood test is not routinely used for diagnosis, but doctors may order it if a patient reports symptoms like bone or muscle pain or has other health conditions that may indicate vitamin D deficiency risk, such as rickets, osteoporosis, or bone fractures.

How is vitamin D deficiency treated?

The treatment may be recommended by a doctor, as consuming more vitamin D-rich foods is not always enough to correct the issue. Supplements are often used to treat and prevent the deficiency, especially in those aged 65 and older.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 400 IU for infants 0–12 months, 600 IU for children 1–18 years, 600 IU for adults up to 70 years, 800 IU for adults over 70 years, and 600 IU for pregnant or lactating women.

How do you prevent vitamin D deficiency?

Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels can be achieved by  spending 15–30 minutes daily in the sun, eating vitamin D rich foods or taking vitamin D supplements.


 The New England Journal of Medicine

Yale Medicine

National Institutes of Health 

Johns Hopkins Medicine 

Mayo Clinic

University of Rochester Medical Center

Merck Manual Consumer Version

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