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Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 29/12/2023
  • 2 min read

Vitamin D is among the essential nutrients your body requires for many functions, such as keeping your bones strong, boosting your immune system, and balancing your mood.

However, many people across the globe, especially in India, suffer from vitamin D deficiency, which can severely harm their health and well-being.

In this blog, you will discover what leads to vitamin D deficiency, signs of Vitamin D deficiency, a list of diseases caused by a deficiency of vitamin D and how to cure them efficiently.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

Several aspects can influence your vitamin D levels. These include:

Sun Exposure and Skin Pigmentation

Your skin synthesises vitamin D when it receives the ultraviolet-B rays of the sun.

However, if you live in a place with less sunlight, wear sunscreen or clothing that covers your skin, or have darker skin, you may get less vitamin D from the sun.

Dietary Intake and Fortification

You can also receive vitamin D from various foods. These include egg yolks, fatty fish, cheese, and mushrooms.

However, these foods are uncommon in the Indian diet; many are vegetarian or vegan. Also, not all foods are fortified with vitamin D. That means they do not have added vitamin D.

Medications and Medical Conditions

Some medications, such as anticonvulsants, steroids, and antiretrovirals, can interfere with the way your body absorbs or uses vitamin D.

Not only that, kidney disease, liver disease, malabsorption disorders, and obesity can also affect your vitamin D levels.

Age and Genetics

As you age, your skin becomes less effective at making vitamin D, and your kidneys lose some ability to turn vitamin D into its active form. Also, some people have genetic variations that affect how their body responds to vitamin D.

Lack of Vitamin D: Symptoms

Various signs of Vitamin D deficiency exist. They can vary based on the severity and duration.

To help you learn about the symptoms, let's explain this by covering the disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin D.

Bone Pain and Fractures

Vitamin D enables your body to draw in phosphorus and calcium, essential for bone health. Your bones can become soft, fragile, and easily broken without sufficient vitamin D. This condition is known as osteomalacia in adults and rickets for children.

Muscle Weakness and Fatigue

This vitamin also affects muscle functioning and energy production.

If your body has less vitamin D, your muscles can become weak and sore, and you will experience cramps often. You may also feel tired, sluggish, and unable to perform physical activities.

Mood Disorders and Depression

Vitamin D plays a role in your brain chemistry and regulating your mood.

If you don't have enough of it, you might feel down, irritable, anxious, or even depressed.

Studies suggest a link between insufficient vitamin D levels and a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is depression that typically occurs during the winter months.

Respiratory Infections and Asthma

Vitamin D promotes your immune system and helps protect you from infections. If you don't have the required vitamin D levels, you might be more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses like colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

Also, a lack of vitamin D can worsen the symptoms and severity of asthma, which is a long-term lung condition causing airway swelling and constriction.

Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes

Vitamin D affects your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. If you have less vitamin D, your chances of developing heart ailments like heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure may increase.

Vitamin D deficiency may also reduce your insulin sensitivity and raise your risk of having type 2 diabetes, a metabolic disorder that affects your blood sugar control.

Vitamin D Deficiency: Treatment

Lack of vitamin D is diagnosed by measuring your blood's 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25[OH]D) level. This is the main form of vitamin D that circulates in your body and reflects your vitamin D status.

The ideal 25[OH]D level for health and well-being is still debatable, but most experts agree it should be above 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L) for most people.

However, depending on age, health condition, and population group, some people may need higher levels.

The treatment of vitamin D deficiency varies according to the reason, intensity, and length of the deficiency. The main treatment options include:

Vitamin D Supplements

You can take vitamin D in different ways, like tablets, capsules, drops, or injections. The dosage of supplements varies depending on your age, weight, and vitamin D level.

Adults need 600 to 800 IU (15 to 20 mcg) of vitamin D daily, but some people may require higher doses, up to 4000 IU (100 mcg) per day, to correct their deficiency.

In India, common categories of Vitamin D supplements are:

Vitamin D3 Supplements: These are the most common form of Vitamin D supplements. They often come in the form of tablets, capsules or soft gels.

Calcium and Vitamin D Combinations: Some supplements combine Vitamin D with calcium, as these two nutrients work together for bone health. These combinations are often available in tablet or capsule form.

Fish Oil or Cod Liver Oil Capsules: These natural sources of Vitamin D are derived from fish, particularly cod liver. They are rich in both Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

Vitamin D Drops: Liquid forms of Vitamin D supplements are available, often in the form of drops. These are convenient for people who prefer not to take tablets or capsules.

Vitamin D in Granule Form: Some supplements come in granule form, which can be mixed with food or beverages for easier consumption.

Vitamin D Injections: For individuals who may have difficulty with oral supplements or require higher doses, Vitamin D injections are administered under medical supervision.

When opting for natural sources like fish cod oil capsules, it's essential to ensure the product is of high quality and has been properly tested for purity and potency.

As always, consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen to determine the right dosage for your individual needs.

Dietary Changes

You can raise vitamin D levels by including vitamin D-rich foods. You can prefer foods fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, yoghurt, cereal, etc.

Food items Vitamin D proportion
Cow's milk 1IU per 100 grams
Herring (cooked) 216 IU per 3.5 ounces
Salmon (Farmed Atlantic Origin) (cooked) 526 IU per 3.5 ounces
Egg Yolk 37IU per egg
White mushroom 7IU per 100 grams
Cereal and Oatmeal 54-136IU (1/2 a cup)
Beef liver (cooked) 36 IU per 2.5 ounces 
Cod liver oil 448IU per tsp

Relying on food alone might make it challenging to get sufficient vitamin D, so taking supplements is still necessary.

Lifestyle Modifications

Give your skin sunlight 10 to 15 minutes daily, especially the early morning sunlight. when the UVB rays are most potent and less harmful.

But be careful not to get sunburned – use sunscreen or wear defensive clothing to cover your skin from too much sun, as prolonged exposure can lead to skin damage and raise the risk of skin cancer.

Conclusion

Vitamin D deficiency affects your bones, muscles, mood, immunity, and metabolism. Various aspects, such as lack of sun exposure, dietary intake, medications, medical conditions, age, and genetics, cause it.

The deficiency could lead to bone pain, muscle weakness, depression, respiratory infections, and cardiovascular disease. It can be diagnosed by measuring your blood level and treated by taking vitamin D supplements, eating more vitamin D-rich foods, and getting more sun exposure.

Remember, if vitamin D deficiency is not treated on time and requires hospitalisation, the treatment costs could be hefty.

To prepare for such situations well in advance, buy health insurance online.

There are many benefits of health insurance. You can receive cashless treatment, avoid concerns about ambulance or medication charges, and avail of post-discharge treatment by submitting the bills to your health insurance provider.

So, what are you waiting for? Get a Tata AIG medical insurance plan now.

FAQS

How long does it take to restore Vitamin D levels?

The time it takes to restore vitamin D levels depends on several factors, such as your starting level, dosage, and health status.

Which disease is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D?

Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. These diseases damage the bones and make them fragile and soft. It can also increase the threat of respiratory infections, mood disorders, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

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