Vitamin D deficiency symptoms affect a surprising percentage of adults. In the New England Journal of Medicine, a study found that 42 percent of hospitalized patients under the age of 65 suffered from a deficiency of this vitamin.
Vitamin D Facts
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which has several forms, most notable of which are D2 (ergocaliciferol), D3 (cholecalciferol), and the synthetic form D5.
D2 (ergocaliciferol) is obtained from food sources, D3 (cholecalciferol) is produced by the action of the sun’s ultraviolet rays on oils in the skin, using your body’s cholesterol to do so. D3 is the most natural and active form of the D vitamin. These forms of vitamin D are converted by the liver and kidneys into the bioactive form, calcitriol.
The D vitamin behaves like a hormone and is sometimes considered such. It is important for facilitating the absorption of calcium and magnesium. It also helps to regulate phosphorus levels in the body. Vitamin D helps to maintain a healthy immune system and thyroid gland.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
People more at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency symptoms are elderly people, alcoholics, vegans and people with darker skin pigmentation. The diet of strict vegetarians and vegans may not provide enough fortified dairy foods. Dark skin contains more melanin which could inhibit the skin’s capacity to produce vitamin D from sunlight.
Without vitamin D, bones are unable to properly calcify (harden). Vitamin D’s role in bone health may make it an effective osteoporosis aid. It is also required for the eruption, growth, and strength of teeth. And as it regulates calcium and phosphorus metabolism, vitamin D has been shown to assist in maintaining nervous system function, while also maintaining calcium levels.
Advanced prostate cancer leads to vitamin D deficiency symptoms in men, according to a study published in the Journal of Urology which found that 44 percent of men with prostate cancer had low levels of vitamin D in their blood.
Factors that may increase deficiency of vitamin D deficiency include lack of exposure to sunlight, cholesterol lowering drugs, antacids, sedatives, liver, kidney and gallbladder disorders. Vitamin D deficiency is often seen in people with overactive parathyroid glands. This gland helps to maintain calcium levels vital for proper functioning of the muscular and nervous systems.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms are traditionally associated with rickets in children (characterized by deformities of the rib cage and skull and by bowlegs, due to failure of the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus). Vitamin D deficiency can cause a mineral deficit in the bones called osteomalacia leading to bone softening, muscle weakness and twitching, and possibly deafness. Without vitamin D, bones are unable to properly calcify and harden.
Senile osteoporosis can result from deficiency of vitamin D later in life. The benefit of vitamin D for bone health may make it an effective osteoporosis remedy. Vitamin D deficiency symptoms have been associated with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Other vitamin D deficiency symptoms include visual problems, diarrhea, insomnia, and a burning feeling in the mouth and throat.
Benefits of Vitamin D
The benefits of vitamin D include the healthy growth of bone, teeth, and nerve membranes and may help slow the progression of multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The natural form of vitamin D, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is essential for maintaining calcium levels in the blood, and is vital for healthy bones, strong teeth, immune system function, and blood pressure. Vitamin D also helps people maintain balance.
The benefits of vitamin D for normal blood clotting is important for a healthy heart and nervous system. Vitamin D benefits support the cardiovascular system, particularly heart health and blood pressure, blood cell formation, and blood filtering for the kidneys.
It is an effective treatment for the flaky skin disorder psoriasis, in the form of a vitamin D cream. The benefit of promoting a healthy immune system has led this vitamin to be considered as a treatment for auto-immune disorders and to help suppress the rejection of transplanted organs.
Vitamin D is necessary for supporting healthy levels of insulin in the blood. Vitamin D supplements have been shown to increase insulin production in people with type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D deficiency symptoms are associated with the risk of diabetes in children.
Vitamin D Overdose and Toxicity
Recommended daily allowance (minimum daily dosage to ward off serious deficiency) RDA of vitamin D for adults is 10 mcg. As vitamin D is fat soluble and stored in the body, vitamin d toxicity can be a factor and it is advised not to supplement more than 15 mcg per day. However, according to recent studies 10mcg RDA vitamin D has been found to be inadequate, and the optimal daily level should be at least 17.5mcg (which, under previous guidelines, could be considered to be a slight vitamin d overdose).
Vitamin d overdose in the body can cause nausea, thirst, vomiting, loss of appetite, and lethargy as a result of vitamin d toxicity. Elevated levels long-term can lead to excess calcium being deposited in blood vessels and the kidneys which may cause severe damage.
Foods With Vitamin D
Here are examples of where to find animal foods with vitamin D and good plant sources of vitamin D:
Animal foods with vitamin D : Oily fish, fish liver oils, egg yolk, butter, milk commonly fortified with vitamin D, liver.
Plant sources of vitamin D : Dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, vegetable oils, alfalfa sprouts, parsley.
NB. An important source of vitamin D is from formation in the skin when sterols become irradiated by ultra-violet light from exposure to unfiltered, direct sunlight.