You must be aware that the vitamins and minerals are required by the human body to maintain a good health and also prevent several diseases and disorders. All vitamins are required daily, but, in limited amounts. Failing to include vitamins in your diet can lead to deficiency of it. Deficiency of a vitamin is also one of the prominent cause of several diseases. Here we will see more on the effects of vitamin D deficiency in children and adults.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D, also known as calciferol, is a fat soluble vitamin which is required for proper growth and development. One of the most important functions of vitamin D is that it promotes calcium absorption, thus, helps in strengthening bones. Due to this property of vitamin D, it helps in keeping bones strong and minimizes the risk of fractures. Vitamin D also aids in enhancing the immune system and keeps several infectious diseases at bay.
Vitamin D is obtained through various sources like milk, egg, fish, beef, fish liver oil, etc. One of the best natural sources of vitamin D is sunlight. Daily exposure to sunlight helps the skin in synthesis of vitamin D. Failing to get exposure to the sunlight and having a diet lacking in any of the vitamin D sources leads to its deficiency. People living in cold climatic countries that are near the North pole do not get exposure to sunlight daily; and people who follow a strict vegetarian diet fail to gain sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Dark skinned and obese people also have a difficulty in synthesizing vitamin D, leading to its deficiency.
Vitamin D Deficiency Effects
As vitamin D is essential for strengthening bones, lack of vitamin D leads to disorders of the bones. Rickets is the most common disorder caused due to deficiency of vitamin D. This condition is commonly found in children (and usually in low income countries). The disorder is characterized by impaired growth and development of bones of the body which is especially true for the long bones. Secondly, osteomalacia and osteoporosis are the disorders caused due to deficiency of D vitamin in adults.
Osteomalacia is characterized by softening of bones due to lack of or loss of calcium in the bones. As the bones become soft, they are more prone to injury and breaking. Osteomalacia is found only in adults; in children, the condition is known as rickets. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by loss of bone tissue which is caused due to low levels of vitamin D and hormonal changes. This condition is commonly found in women during menopausal phase. Osteoporosis also increases the risk of bone fracture due to the loss of bone density.
One of the other effects of vitamin D deficiency is weight gain. People suffering from deficiency of this vitamin are believed to have difficulty in losing weight. On the other hand, it has been observed that long term deficiency of vitamin D leads to several severe health conditions. These includes type 1 diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. According to the studies conducted in the recent years, it has been found that vitamin D deficiency was one of the causes of these diseases. However, it should be noted that it is not the only cause and taking vitamin D supplements does not help in treatment or prevention of any of these diseases.
The minor effects can be reversed by having a diet rich in vitamin D foods or taking vitamin D supplements. However, unfortunately, the severe effects cannot be reversed. Therefore, it is wise to have a balanced diet in order to prevent the deficiency of vitamin D or to be more precise, any of the essential ingredients of the body. Having a varied diet and getting exposed to sunlight for 10-15 minutes daily can help in gaining adequate amounts of vitamin D.