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Vitamin D3 Deficiency

Vitamin D3 Deficiency

Vitamin D3 deficiency can lead to a lot of health problems that you should be aware of. This vitamin, is indeed one of the most vital vitamins our body needs. Read this article to know everything about this vitamin deficiency; the causes, the appropriate levels, the symptoms, and of course, the treatment.
Neha Joshi
Last Updated: May 5, 2018
Vitamin D deficiency is the most talked about deficiency around the world. It has suddenly gained a lot of attention in the last few years. People are slowly understanding how vitamins play a very important role in our healthy existence. Vitamins don't only perform singular actions, they also help the execution of other functions in our body. In this article, we will concentrate solely on the deficiency of Vitamin D3, a deficiency people yet don't understand completely.
But before that, let us see exactly what vitamin D3 does, and how it is different from its counterpart: Vitamin D2. Basically, vitamin D can be split into two parts: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is synthesized solely by plants, and we can obtain it from their consumption. On the other hand, vitamin D3 is synthesized by us, humans, when we are exposed to the sunlight. This synthesization is done in the skin; a property that got this vitamin its nickname: the sunshine vitamin. Let us now read in detail about the causes of Vitamin D3, the symptoms it shows, and the treatment that can be taken for its prevention, and cure.
What Leads to a Deficiency of Vitamin D3: The Causes
It's myth that vitamin D3 is solely obtained from the sun. But what is true, is, that foods with vitamin D3 will only make up 10% (approximately) of the quota you need daily. Thus, we can rightly conclude that exposure to the sun's rays is not only vital, but mandatory. In countries where the sun hides successfully in the winters, doctors advise people to accumulate enough vitamin D during earlier months.
This reserve of vitamin D should sustain throughout winter months. However, if your levels are already hitting a low, it's time you visit a doctor, and take some priceless advise, soon. Foods fortified with vitamin D3 are available in the market. However, consumption of these foods, or even medicines for that matter, should be resorted to only after medical consultation.
Age (In years) Men Women
0-12 months 400 IU
(10 mcg)
400 IU
(10 mcg)
1-13 600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
14-18 600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
19-50 600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
51-70 600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
70 + 800 IU
(20 mcg)
800 IU
(20 mcg)

**(IUs) stand for International Units; (mcg) stands for micrograms.
Age Pregnancy Lactation
14 - 18 600 IU
(10 mcg)
600 IU
(10 mcg)
19 - 50 600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)

**(IUs) stand for International Units; (mcg) stands for micrograms.
Another cause that roadblocks formation of vitamin D3 is the excessive use of sunscreen lotions. Make sure you use these only when necessary, and not as an everyday ritual. Obesity is another cause that might lead to this deficiency. Fat cells extract vitamin D from the blood, before it begins to circulate. Certain diseases such as Crohn's, will bar your digestive system from utilizing this vitamin. With age, our kidneys fail to convert the entire vitamin into its active form. Dark-skinned people have higher melanin in their skin; a pigment that reduces the skin's ability to produce vitamin D.
Now that we know the causes, and the appropriate levels of this vitamin, let us proceed to the symptoms visible.
Effects of Vitamin D3 Deficiency: The Symptoms
High Blood Pressure
A lot of studies have shown the requirement of vitamin D3, to keep blood pressure levels normal. It is said that, low levels of vitamin D3 can lead to high blood pressure. This is one of the most observed symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Young adults and adults who suffer from the deficiency of this vitamin, are often diagnosed with high blood pressure. It is indeed among the common symptoms in men, specially older men.
Rickets
Deficiency of vitamin D3 can also lead to rickets in children. Rickets is a condition that will lead to fragile and weak bones. The body requires phosphorus and calcium, for maintaining healthy and strong bones. This is ensured by vitamin D3, which absorbs these minerals. Continuous pain in areas such as the spine, pelvis and legs, is a symptom of vitamin D3 deficiency. These children and prone to fractures, and dental cavities as well. Rickets is a serious condition and needs immediate medical attention.
Depression
It is a fact that this vitamin does affect the neuron cells, and plays an important role in the production of chemicals that help in the growth, and survival of neurons, according to a review in 'Psychoneuroendocrinology'. A lot of people also suffer from the much-talked about seasonal affective disorder. Having said this, we know for sure that the moods of an individual are going to be affected. However, there still exists a debate, whether this really is a cause of depression, or not.
Osteoporosis
Deficiency of this vitamin also leads to Osteoporosis. In this illness, the bone tissue in our bones gradually grows thinner, with every passing day. The bone density too, is said to decrease. Above 50 years of age, approximately 1 out of every 5 women in the United States of America, is affected by Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis leads to a bad posture, brittle bones, and also a lot of fractures. This too, is considered a very dangerous condition.
Other Health Issues
Deficiency of this vitamin will also lead to a variety of other health issues. Some of them are, insomnia, fatigue and respiratory problems. As this deficiency leads to brittle and weak bones, this might interfere with sleeping soundly and comfortably, and thus to insomnia. Common cold and asthma are also, at times, considered symptoms of this vitamin deficiency. People with low levels of vitamin D3, are said to also suffer from muscle pain.
How Can You Cure a Vitamin D3 Deficiency: The Treatment
Vitamin D levels in your body are examined with a blood test called 25(OH)D. This is the only way one can determine whether you are deficient or not. If you are deficient, the doctor will prescribe a set of medicines to help boost your levels. In the meantime, you can also start eating foods that contain this vitamin. Some of these foods are beef liver, egg yolks and cheese. One thing you must remember, is that this will not compensate for already low levels. If you are diagnosed with severe deficiency, the doctor might start with a heavy dosage. Seldom to they resort to injections. Once your levels start coming up to normality, your dosage will be reduced/adjusted. This deficiency can be prevented easily, than cured. Just keep in mind to absorb as much sunlight as you can.
FAQs
How long will it take to increase my vitamin D level?
After winter, it takes about 2 months, for sunlight, to make your vitamin D levels optimum again. If you are undergoing treatment, it might take a little longer, to assess and finally conclude. The maximum time it should take for you to get back on track, is 3 months. This is provided you follow the instructions your doctor gave you. It may also take longer, if you have problems with your kidney, or are obese, or suffer from a disease that bars absorption of this vitamin.
What is the safe amount of exposure to sunlight?
Excess exposure to sun has always been harmful. People are rightfully worried about skin cancers, and diseases of the eye. Exposing your skin to sunlight per week, for 3 hours, is enough. 3 hours in a single day isn't advisable as the skin ceases production of vitamin D, after 30 minutes of exposure to the sun. Thus, you should get a little of sunlight everyday.
Do people with a darker skin need more sun?
Yes. Melanin; a pigment present in our skin, cuts down the skin's power to form vitamin D. The darker the skin, more the melanin present in it. If you are dark-skinned, you should get a little more of sunlight, to be on the safer side. If you are confused as to how much, consult a doctor.
Is vitamin D toxic?
The exact boundary of toxicity for this vitamin hasn't been laid down yet. Yes, vitamin D does cause hypercalcemia, but only when the 'free concentration of 1,25(OH)2D', is abnormally high. Due to such reasons, it is always recommended that you consume vitamins after consultation.
What are the side effects of Vitamin D3?
Side effects of any vitamin, depend on how much you consume, and your other medical complications as well. Many times, self-diagnosis can conclude to different assumptions. The normal side effects are usually headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea. If you happen to notice these after consumption of vitamin D3 supplements, consult your doctor at the earliest.
Good and healthy levels of vitamin D3 are very important to have a healthy body. Watch out for all the vitamin D3 side effects; in case you consume more than necessary. 10 minutes of exposure to the sunlight everyday, and a meal that is rich in vitamin D3 foods such as tuna, salmon, dairy products and eggs, is all you need to keep this deficiency at bay. Consultation is a must, as depending on your levels, the doctor might also want you to take some extra supplements.