Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin Deficiency

A balanced diet combined with regular exercise is the key to good health. However, with the modern lifestyle these are most often ignored. This leads to nutritional deficiencies which in turn lead to other health problems. Vitamin D deficiency is one such deficiency that is caused due to not consuming vitamin rich food and reduced exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin required by the body for the development of bones and muscles. A deficiency means the body does not have the required amount of Vitamin D. The most common reason of Vitamin D deficiency is insufficient exposure to sunlight which could be due to geographical location or limited outdoor time. It can also occur if the body is not able to convert or absorb enough Vitamin D from food or supplements.

Vitamin D helps the body in calcium absorption, which is the building block of bones. It also plays a role in maintaining the nervous and immune systems.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a loss of bone density making them weak and prone to fractures. Severe deficiencies can lead to rickets in children; a condition that causes bones to become soft and bend. In adults, Vitamin D deficiency leads to osteomalacia and osteoporosis.

Vitamin D helps the body to use calcium and phosphorus that are required to build bones and promote tissue growth.

Some people are at higher risk of developing Vitamin D Deficiency as compared to others. These include:

  • Breast fed infants especially whose mothers are Vitamin D deficient
  • Elderly people who are mostly indoors
  • People with dark skin
  • People suffering from Crohn’s disease or celiac disease
  • People with osteoporosis
  • People who take medications that affect metabolism of Vitamin D

Children with mild Vitamin D deficiency present with weakness, pain in the muscles, dental deformities and poor growth. In rare cases of severe deficiency, it causes rickets, a condition characterized by bowed or bent bones, muscle weakness, bone pain and joint deformities.

Vitamin D deficiency in adults can be symptomatic or may present with symptoms like tiredness, bone pain, muscle cramps and depression.

The aim of Vitamin D Deficiency management is to reach and then maintain an adequate level in the body. This can be achieved by foods like fatty fish, beef, cheese, mushrooms and egg yolk that have some Vitamin D. Fortified foods like milk, breakfast cereals, soy drinks and yogurt can also provide some Vitamin D. Getting more sunlight also helps in managing Vitamin D deficiency. The best way to manage Vitamin D deficiency is by taking oral supplements or intramuscular injections.

The amount of vitamin D you need each day depends on your age. The daily recommended dietary intake references are as below:

  • Birth to 12 months: 400 IU
  • Children 1-13 years: 600 IU
  • Adults 14-70 years: 600 IU
  • Adults 71 years and older: 800 IU
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU