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What causes Vitamin D deficiency symptoms?
Numerous factors are responsible for the development of Vitamin D deficiency. Some of the major causes are-
Age – Kidneys helps to convert inactive Vitamin D to it’s active form. With the advancing age, kidneys weaken, and so is the ability to convert the Vitamin D to its active state. Therefore, people over 60 years of age are advised to take supplements which contain the already active form of Vitamin D (D3).
Obesity – High fat to muscle mass creates a pool like state in an obese individual. Hence, higher amounts of Vitamin D supplementation is required to reach the steady state.
Inadequate Sun Exposure – Individuals who work from home, elders who remain immobile due to weak joints, newborn babies, and bed-ridden patients are all vulnerable to Vitamin D deficiency. Because, they are not exposed enough to the sun light, deficiency symptoms are detected early in them.
Deficient Diet – Most vegetarians have diet deficient in Vitamin D products. Along with inadequate sun exposure, may lead to many health issues related to Vitamin D deficiency.
Inefficient Absorption / Malabsorption Issues – Patients with recognized intestinal problems, may suffer from Fat soluble Vitamins like, Vitamin A, D, E, and K. Notably, all these vitamins require bile to breakdown in the upper intestine and get utilized for the body machinery. These patients are dependent upon the external supplements in the form of tablets or injectable drugs.
Liver or/ and Kidney Problems – Liver and Kidney, both are required for the conversion of inactive form of Vitamin D to its active form. Hence, any health disorder leading to serious problem to any of the two organs, may cause low level of Vitamin D in the body.
Pregnancy / Nursing State – The requirement of Vitamin D enormously rises during the pregnancy and during nursing state.
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Role of Vitamin D in the body
Vitamin D is not only a vitamin. The way it engages with the metabolism of the body has lead to an understanding that, it may be considered as a ‘Hormone’! The major purpose of Vitamin D in our diet is to keep a balance between two major minerals of the bone, Calcium and Phosphorous. Calcium is not only found in the bones, but is also a keen component of muscles (including heart muscles) and various biochemical reactions in the body. Therefore, regulation of Calcium levels in the body is of utmost importance. This is handled by the levels of Vitamin D in the blood.
What is the difference between Vitamin D and Vitamin D3?
What should be done?
A simple solution is to have Vitamin D3 in the form of tablets, depending upon your age, health status and diet. This is only recommended in special situations. The simpler solution is to continue with the diet rich in Vitamin D (points enumerated below), and enjoy the sunshine occasionally.
Beautifully explained difference between D and D3. Also enumerating the countless benefits of Vitamin D
Image Credit: InsaneMedicine.com
What are the common symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?
The symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency are as follows:
1. Fatigue and Generalized Weakness
So far, this is the most common and yet most unrecognized symptom of Vitamin D deficient diet. This may be due to decreased muscle control by the muscle fibers. However, sudden unexplained fatigue accompanied by weight loss is an alarming symptom. This must be investigated further to rule out any serious health hazard.
2. Body aches and Weak joints
3. Depression & Mental Changes
The mood elevating neurotransmitter in the brain ‘Serotonin’ is regulated by the amount of Vitamin D we ingest through our diet. People with low Vitamin D levels in blood, are often found to have a depressed mental state. Therefore, this may be the explanation, why lower blood levels of Vitamin D should be corrected to maintain a healthy mind and body.
4. Indigestion, Constipation, Diarhhea & Malabsorption problems
Though, malabsorption states or severe indigestion problems may point towards are more serious problem in the body. But, this may also lead to the deficiency of all Fat-soluble Vitamins (A, D, E, and K). The long term malasorption conditions may also lead to the development of various Cancer in the gut and Autoimmune problems like Crohn’s disease.
5. High Blood Pressure
Testing for Vitamin D deficiency Symptoms
Diseases linked to Vitamin D deficiency
As discussed, Vitamin D plays many roles, and is now known to be a major precursor of many serious chronic diseases in the body. Notably among them are –
1. Osteomalacia & Rickets
Deficiency of Vitamin D best reflects in bones. This Vitamin regulates the Parathyroid hormone (PTH), which in turn maintains Calcium balance in the body. Low Vitamin D causes higher levels of Parathyroid hormone (PTH) in the blood. Consequently, more Calcium is broken down from the bone, to maintain the blood Calcium levels. Therefore, the bones become Calcium deficit and Osteomalacia or Rickets ensues. Furthermore, this process may lead to Osteoporotic bones, which fracture easily.
Myopathy is ‘problem in the muscles’. This arises in severe Vitamin D depleted states because, the Vitamin have a direct effect on the muscle strength. Hence, lower D3 levels lead to muscle weakness and muscular pain issues.
3. Heart Problems
Chronic lower levels of Vitamin D levels have been associated with the development of various Heart problems. Notably among them are – LVF (Left Ventricular Failure), Sudden Heart Attack and Peripheral Arterial Diseases (PAD) are linked with the lower levels of Vitamin D in the body.
4. Depression and Suicidal Tendency
As already mentioned, Vitamin D regulates the balance of Serotonin – The mood elevator! Lower Vitamin D levels is accompanied by Depressed states. Furthermore, chronic situation can even lead to the suicidal tendencies too!
5. Diabetes Mellitus
It is noticed that patients with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) who have normal Vitamin D and calcium levels in their blood, had significantly lower blood sugar levels, lesser inflammatory conditions, and increased glucose regulation.
Various studies in recent times shows, many Internal Malignancies (Cancer) are linked with depressed states of Vitamin D. Almost 17 types of Cancers are known because of Vitamin D deficit states. Notably among them are – Prostate, Colorectal, Breast, Pancreatic and Thyroid Cancer. Highest incidence was noted for Colorectal (Intestinal) Cancers.
7. Infertility & PMS
Recently, Infertility has been linked with low Vitamin D levels. It is seen that, women who consumed Vitamin D rich foods, were more likely to get pregnant and stay pregnant! Moreover, the higher incidence of Pre Menstrual Syndromme (PMS) is linked with low Vitamin D and Calcium levels.
8. Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune diseases are fatal! There seems to be no way out. These arises because, the body’s immune system attacks it’s own healthy cells. Normally, the immune system functions to protect our body from the invaders. But, in the Autoimmune disease, the cells of the immune system fails to recognize it’s own healthy cells. Consequently, the immune cells attack the normal healthy cells and problem start. Studies indicate lesser degree of Autoimmune disorders with optimal levels of Vitamin D in the body.
Some of the notable Autoimmune diseases are – Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Diabetes Type 1, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Multiple Sclerosis and Vasculitis.
9. Alzheimer’s Disease
This is a degenerative disease leading to loss of neurons in the brain, consequently Dementia (Memory Loss). Eventually, it involves all major cognitive functions and severe behavioral changes. Vitamin D supplementation in elderly age groups have been linked with lesser rates of developing Alzheimer’s dementia.
10. Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease develops when the brain cells is deprived of the neurotransmitter called, Dopamine. Vitamin D supplementation can lessen the risk of the disease, as the receptors of the Vitamin are found throughout the brain tissue.