Vitamin D: know more about deficiency

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Over a billion people around the world don’t have enough vitamin D in their blood. This is known as vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones in children and adults, and not having enough of it can lead to bone problems and other diseases. Fortunately, vitamin D deficiency can be easily detected and treated. Here’s what you need to know.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin.” Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is in sunlight, or we can get it from the food we eat, like certain types of fish, or the vitamins we take. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. The amount of vitamin D each person needs depends on the person’s age.

What causes vitamin D deficiency?

People can become vitamin D deficient for different reasons:

  • Not enough vitamin D in your diet
  • Not enough exposure to sunlight
  • You take medicine that interferes with your body’s ability to get vitamin D
  • Your liver or kidneys can’t convert vitamin D to its active form in the body

What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Weak bones
  • Weak muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Back and joint pain
  • Headache
  • Hair loss

Are you at risk?

Doctors may test people who are at a greater risk for vitamin D deficiency. People who are at risk include the following:

  • Osteoporosis patients
  • Chronic kidney disease patients
  • People treated with certain medications, such as anti-seizure or steroid drugs
  • People with darker skin, such as African Americans and Hispanics
  • Obese children and adults
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or cystic fibrosis patients

How is it treated?

Vitamin D deficiency is treated with vitamin D supplements. Your doctor will recommend a certain amount to take, based on medical guidelines. Your doctor may re-check your vitamin D levels with a blood test anywhere from 3 to 6 months after starting treatment.

Talk with your doctor

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, ask your doctor about testing for vitamin D. An accurate diagnosis and successful treatment may lead to symptom relief and prevent more serious medical issues.

 

Next Steps

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