Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Vitamin D deficiency can prove to be severe, however in most cases, the ailment is both preventable and treatable. Read ahead to know more.

Tanya Srivastava
Written by: Tanya SrivastavaPublished at: Sep 13, 2022Updated at: Sep 13, 2022
Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones. It helps the body to absorb calcium properly from the diet. But increasingly, research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of other health problems.

Vitamin D deficiency is a common vitamin deficiency, which can cause issues with our bones and muscles. It most commonly affects people over the age of 65 and/or people who have darker skin. It can prove to be severe, however in most cases, the ailment is both preventable and treatable.

Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency

Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness is the first indication that you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle and not visible from the beginning. Yet, even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose numerous health risks. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following health ailments:

  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVDs)
  • Cognitive impairment 
  • Bone pain
  • Deformities in joints
  • Severe asthma
  • Cancer

According to research, vitamin D could play a vital role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different health conditions, which may include type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

There can be a lot of reasons why a person is vitamin D deficient.  However, one of the most significant reasons involve a person not consuming the recommended levels of the vitamin over time. A few other reasons may include:

1. Limited exposure to sunlight

Our body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. However, when a person is homebound  a lot or is in a place or profession that prevents proper sun exposure, the body fails to make even the bare minimum quantities of vitamin D. 

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Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms Causes And Treatment

2. When kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to active form

As we age, our kidneys are not as able to convert vitamin D to its active form. Therefore, there is an increasing risk of vitamin D deficiency in the body.

3. Obesity

By altering the release into the circulation, Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater often tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin D in their bodies.

4. Darker skin

The pigment melanin helps in reducing the skin's ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. There are several studies that also show that older adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency than the ones who have lighter skin.

Treatment of Vitamin D Deficiency

The treatment of vitamin D deficiency involves the body reaching and then maintaining an adequate vitamin D level in the body.

While a person may consider eating more food items that are rich in vitamin D and getting more sunlight, your healthcare provider will likely recommend taking vitamin D supplements alongside. Vitamin D comes in two forms

1. D2

D2 (ergocalciferol) comes from plants. D3 (cholecalciferol) comes from animals. You need a prescription to get D2 supplements. 

2. D3

On the other hand, D3 (cholecalciferol) is available as over the counter pills. Our body absorbs D3 more easily than D2.

Work with a healthcare provider or medical expert to properly find out if you need a vitamin supplement and how much to take it, if required.