Vitamin D Deficiency

Approved Doctor(s) ; Nancy M Chang , Rafael A Lantigua • May 01, 2023

Table of contents

30 Second Summary

  • Vitamin D is a vitamin that supports the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body and the health of bones.
  • It can be taken through sunlight, certain foods and supplements.
  • It can lead to osteoporosis, rickets, muscle weakness and other health problems.
  • People with vitamin D deficiency can take vitamin D supplements on doctor's advice.

Vitamin D, one of the fat-soluble vitamins, is also known as calciferol. Vitamin D, one of the vitamins important for the growth of children, ensures that phosphorus and calcium can be dissolved in the digestive system. It is also called the sun vitamin because its most important source is the sun.

Although vitamin D is called a vitamin, it is basically a fat-soluble hormone and is therefore involved in hormonal mechanisms. Vitamin D sources are divided into plant and animal sources. Vitamin D of plant origin is called D2. Plant-derived vitamin D, also called ergocalciferol, cannot be metabolized efficiently by the human body.

The most important type of vitamin D for humans is vitamin D of animal origin. The most important source of this vitamin D, called D3 and cholecalciferol, is the sun. Vitamin D3, which is formed after the skin tissue comes into contact with the sun's rays, undergoes a number of reactions and becomes usable by the body. The inactive form of vitamin D3 travels first to the liver and then to the kidneys to reach its active form. The active form of vitamin D is called 1,25 di hydroxy.

In case of insufficient vitamin D3 intake through the skin, vitamin D deficiency occurs. In this case, the reinforcements used are in the form of D2. Therefore, these supplements must be converted into vitamin D3 in the body before they can be used.

What does vitamin D provide?

Vitamin D, which is extremely important for health, plays an important role in metabolism. These tasks include the following:

  • Protects against muscle weakness
  • Ensures regular heartbeat
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Essential for thyroid function
  • Takes part in blood clotting
  • Increases calcium absorption in the intestines
  • Provides calcium storage in bones
  • Increases the absorption of phosphorus from the intestines and allows phosphorus to be used in the body
  • Strengthens tooth structure
  • Strengthens bone structure
  • Supports brain and nervous system health
  • Regulates insulin levels, preventing the risk of diabetes and helping to treat it
  • Supports lung function
  • Supports cardiovascular health
  • Suppresses genes involved in cancer development

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin for supporting the healthy functioning of the body. For this reason, vitamin D deficiency can lead to many diseases. The fact that people are constantly indoors in today's conditions causes vitamin D deficiency to be seen in people of all ages. When it comes to vitamin D deficiency, many symptoms can occur. However, in order to recognize these symptoms, people need to monitor themselves in a healthy way. Among the symptoms seen in people with vitamin D deficiency are the following:

  • Constant chills
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Excessive sweating
  • Bruises under the eyes
  • Pain in the joints
  • Pain in the fingers
  • Insomnia
  • Changeable moods
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of strength
  • Bone pain
  • Balance problems
  • Fatigue
  • General body pain
  • Frequent colds

Which diseases are caused by vitamin D deficiency?

Since vitamin D has important functions in the body, long-term and severe vitamin D deficiency causes many health problems. These diseases include the following:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Frequent falls
  • Cramp
  • Widespread body aches
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Heart diseases
  • Bone resorption
  • Rheumatic diseases
  • Weakening of the immune system
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Rickets
  • Osteomalacia
  • Increased likelihood of broken bones
  • Growth retardation
  • Skeletal deformities
  • Obesity
  • Sleep disorders
  • Predisposes to Alzheimer's disease
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Bone softening
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Vitamin D benefits

It is extremely important to have normal levels of vitamin D in order to lead a healthy life. Because vitamin D is used in many different areas within the metabolic system. Therefore, vitamin D has different benefits on different systems.

Protecting bone health

When it comes to vitamin D, the first thing that comes to mind is bone health. Vitamin D, which enables calcium and phosphorus, which make up an important part of bone tissue, to be processed in the body and bind to bone tissues, supports the protection of bone health and the healthy development of the skeletal system in children.

Helps regulate blood sugar

Vitamin D stimulates the pancreas. This helps to support insulin production. Insulin is the most important enzyme for managing blood sugar more efficiently. For this reason, especially diabetic patients can fight their diseases more effectively thanks to vitamin D3.

Effective in lowering blood pressure

Vitamin D3 increases the renini enzyme secreted by the kidneys, which helps lower blood pressure. Studies on hypertension patients also show that vitamin D3 lowers blood pressure values.

Prevents cancer

Some studies have shown that vitamin D3 inhibits the development of some types of tumors. Some studies on this subject provide evidence that vitamin D3 may prevent colon cancer and polyp formation in the intestines by binding with fibers.

It is observed that the risk of developing cancer decreases by 60%, especially if postmenopausal women use calcium supplements together with vitamin D. In addition, it has been proven by research that there is a close relationship between breast cancer and vitamin D.

Maintaining heart health

Studies on vitamin D and heart health show that vitamin D reduces the risk of heart attack. Although the effect of vitamin D on the heart has not yet been proven, the general opinion is that vitamin D has a calming effect on the heart.

Regulates mood

One of the best effects of vitamin D is its effect on mood. Vitamin D, which is extremely effective in eliminating mood disorders, especially during seasonal changes, also reduces the clinical symptoms of depression.

Maintains muscle health

Vitamin D is a vitamin that increases both muscle strength and muscle mass. For this reason, it is extremely effective in preventing falls, especially in the elderly.

Strengthens the immune system

In diseases such as Crohn's disease and MS, which occur with immune system weakness, vitamin D levels are extremely low in patients. For this reason, it has a positive effect on improving the immune system in general, especially in the prevention and treatment of diseases affecting the immune system.

Anti-inflammatory activity

Inflammation, which is seen at the beginning of almost every health problem, is an inflammatory process. Although it is one of the symptoms at the onset of diseases, progression of inflammation is not desirable. For this reason, medicines are used to prevent inflammation. Studies have also shown that vitamin D inhibits inflammation.

Skin health

Vitamin D deficiency is often seen especially in people with acne skin. In addition, its anti-inflammatory properties make vitamin D effective in soothing and treating acne skin. In addition, it is also effective in the protection of skin cells as it takes part in the renewal of cells.

How much should vitamin D be?

A blood test is required to determine whether vitamin D is needed. In addition, ideal vitamin D values vary according to age. Vitamin D values are measured in ng/ml.

For people between 1 and 70 years of age, the ideal vitamin D level should be between 20 and 50 ng/ml. Vitamin D levels between 12 and 20 ng/ml are considered to be insufficient and levels below 12 ng/ml are considered to be at risk of bone disease.

People who will use food supplements to avoid vitamin D deficiency should first consult with their physicians and determine the most appropriate doses for them. However, in general, the amount of vitamin D that should be taken daily according to age groups is as follows.

  • 400 IU daily for infants between 0 and 12 months
  • 600 IU daily for people aged 1 to 70 years
  • 800 IU for people over 70 years of age

Treatment of vitamin D deficiency

In vitamin D deficiency, patients are given injections or oral vitamin D supplements. The treatment option and dosage of vitamin D varies according to the age, weight and vitamin D levels of the patients.

Injection applications are especially suitable for people who cannot use their medicines regularly. This is because a single injection provides patients with enough vitamin D for approximately 6 months. If vitamin D is used orally, patients should take their medication daily, weekly or monthly. Treatments in this way are usually long-term. When vitamin D supplements are consumed with fatty foods, absorption is 32% better.

Vitamin D deficiency varies according to the characteristics of the patients. For this reason, it is important that the dose intervals to be applied are determined by the physician. The aim of this treatment is to bring the vitamin D levels in patients into a safe range.

Nutrition in patients with vitamin D deficiency

Patients with vitamin D deficiency should especially include the following foods in their diet:

  • Butter
  • Egg yolk
  • Liver
  • Oily fish
  • Fish oil
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Orange juice
  • Chicken liver
  • Grain products
  • Stinging nettle
  • Parsley
  • Red meat
  • Shrimp
  • Mushrooms in the sun in nature

Excess vitamin D

Although vitamin D is extremely important for the body, overuse can lead to health problems. Health problems caused by excess vitamin D intake include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Kidney damage
  • Tissue and joint calcifications
  • Kidney stone formation
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased calcium in the blood
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Question: Muscle pain in legs and toes, what is the reason for this?

K** S** | 24 May 2024

Dr. Mytra Haerizadeh answered | 43 days ago
Muscle pain felt in the legs and toes can have many different causes. These include mineral deficiencies, primarily potassium and magnesium deficiency, excessive physical activity, muscle fatigue, nerve compression, and dehydration. Therefore, it is essential to drink plenty of water and adopt a diet rich in potassium and magnesium.
Question: I have joint pain in my right hand that starts from my fingers and extends to the neck. Could it be a vitamin D deficiency?

S** S** | 18 Jul 2024

Dr. Jessica Rohman Singer answered | 11 hours ago
The mentioned symptoms could be related to vitamin D deficiency. However, it may not be the only cause. While vitamin D deficiency can lead to muscle and bone pain, similar symptoms can also occur due to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve compression, or a cervical herniated disc.
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