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Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, Test & Treatment

Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, Test & Treatment

Max Lab

Sep 08, 2022

Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" because the body produces it when an individual's skin is exposed to sunlight. As vitamin D helps to keep one's bones strong, a deficiency can cause bone softening, which can result in pain and fractures. Although vitamin D deficiency is a common medical condition, the good thing is that it can be diagnosed with a basic blood test and can easily be treated with vitamin D supplements.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

The majority of people who are vitamin D deficient are asymptomatic. Symptoms appear only in severe and prolonged deficiency.

Vitamin D's primary function is to absorb phosphorus and calcium from the intestine in order to create and maintain bone density. This cannot occur properly in the presence of vitamin D deficiency. A severe deficiency may result in bone softening (osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children).

A person suffering from osteomalacia or rickets may encounter throbbing bone uneasiness as well as muscle pain and weakness. Osteomalacia also increases the likelihood of bone fractures, falling, and difficulty walking.

Aside from bone and muscle symptoms, vitamin D deficiency is linked to fatigue and depression as well.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

Because vitamin D requires sun exposure to be formed, the most vulnerable population numbers for vitamin D deficiency usually involve anyone who spends a lot of time indoor spaces (for example, the elderly and the homebound).

Other groups that are at risk of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Those who do not eat enough vitamin D-rich foods (for example, canned tuna and fortified cow's milk)
  • Those suffering from diseases that adversely impact vitamin D absorption in the gut (e.g., Crohn's disease)
  • Individuals suffering from diseases that interfere with the conversion of vitamin D into its activated state (e.g., chronic kidney disease or liver disease)
  • Those who take medications that increase vitamin D breakdown (e.g., anti-seizure medications)

Test for Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is a very common condition. Vitamin D deficiency affects approximately 30% to 50% of the population. That leads to the question, how does one know if he or she is deficient in Vitamin D? The answer to this question is simple. If a person has any of the above symptoms, he or she should get a Vitamin D test right away. Having a blood test to determine the levels through a Vitamin D test and a Vitamin D3 test is the best way to determine if one has appropriate levels of the vitamin.

In the blood, vitamin D exists in two forms: 25-hydroxyl D [25(OH) D] and [1,25 (OH) (2) D]. The first, 25-hydroxyl D, is the most common form of the hormone found in the blood and is essential for bone health and development. In its absence or deficiency, the bones become prone to cracking, resulting in diseases such as rickets. And apart from that, it controls calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium absorption.

The Vitamin D3 test determines the amount of Vitamin D in the body. To make sure sufficient levels of Vitamin D in the body, it is essential to undergo a Vitamin D test and a Vitamin D3 test. It is important to note that no fasting is needed prior to the Vitamin D and Vitamin D3 tests.

Vitamin D Deficiency Treatment

The treatment of vitamin D deficiency is determined by a number of factors, including the severity of the deficiency and the presence of underlying medical conditions.

As mentioned above, Vitamin D deficiency can be treated by taking vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D Supplements

There are two types of vitamin D: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), with the latter being the most common one. Keep in mind that higher doses will be required to treat individuals who have medical conditions that severely impact vitamin D absorption in the gut, as well as those who take medications that impair vitamin D metabolism.

Vitamin D Deficiency Dietary Changes

Eating a Vitamin D-rich diet can help in the treatment of Vitamin D deficiency. Include foods such as nuts, cereals, cod liver oil, fatty fish, cheese, eggs, etc., into your diet.

Treatment for vitamin D deficiency is essential for bone health and may improve the functioning of other systems and immune cells in one’s body. However, before making major changes, it is recommended to please consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for you.

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