What Is Vitamin D Deficiency?
Designated by the ICD-10 code E55.9, Vitamin D Deficiency signifies a low amount or below sufficient amount of vitamin D present in your body. This deficiency is the primary cause of weak muscle and bone functions and leads to other severe health issues. Vitamin D is crucial for the absorption of calcium, phosphate, and magnesium for other body functions, including immunity and supporting the nervous system of your entire body.
Insufficient or low vitamin D levels can result in osteomalacia and rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Sunlight is considered the primary and easiest source of vitamin D present in nature, but excessive exposure to sunlight can lead to skin aging, collagen damage and also an increased risk of skin cancer due to prolonged exposure to UV rays.
What Are the Main Types of Vitamin D?
When it comes to Vitamin D, it is recommended to choose oil-based supplements or always consume it with fatty foods because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin D is divided into two major types: Vitamin D2 known as Ergocalciferol and Vitamin D3 as Cholecalciferol.
Ergocalciferol – Vitamin D2
Vitamin D2 is plant-based vitamin D which is suitable for vegetarian people. Ergocalciferol is extracted from plants, making it cost-effective due to the cultivation process through different natural sources. Common sources of Vit D2 include cereals, plant-based milk, infant formula, margarine, orange juice, yeasts, and certain mushrooms. Vitamin D2 Supplements can be easily found in the market in the form of oil-based capsules.
Cholecalciferol – Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 which is also known as cholecalciferol vitamin is extracted from living sources including animals and fish and it is naturally present in various foods. This vit d3 can also be extracted through lichen, a symbiotic partnership between fungus and alga commonly found in various environments. The most common and effective source of vitamin D3 is sunlight.
How is Vitamin D Deficiency Classified in Your Body?
Vitamin D deficiencies are classified into three primary categories: Mild, Moderate, and Severe, as detailed below:
- Mild Vitamin D deficiency: 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels less than 20 ng/mL
- Moderate Vitamin D deficiency: 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels less than 10 ng/mL
- Severe Vitamin D deficiency: 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels less than 5 ng/mL
However, medical researchers and experts recommend that the 25-hydroxyvitamin D level in the blood should ideally fall between 20-50 ng/mL.
What Sets Apart Vitamin D3 from D2 and Which Is More Effective?
Vitamin D comes in two major forms: Vitamin D2 and D3, both belonging to the vitamin D subclass and acquire notable differences in their properties and effects. The researchers are still engaged in an ongoing debate over the efficacy of D2 and D3 in blood levels.
Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, is derived from plants and has less bioavailability in terms of absorption into the bloodstream compared to Vitamin D3. According to a Harvard Research Center publication, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials indicated that vit D3 has more tendency to absorb in blood, increase its concentration more effectively, and maintain its levels for a longer period compared to ergocalciferol. Some researchers favor Vit D3 over vit D2 because it is naturally produced in the body and is present in certain foods containing cholecalciferol vitamin, which is a converted and active form of vitamin D, known as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
What Are The 14 Signs Of Vitamin D Deficiency?
There are various symptoms and signs of vitamin deficiency in your body, but some changes can be observed by yourself. Here are the 14 most common signs of vitamin D deficiency.
- Reduced Strength: Vitamin D helps in maintaining energy levels during your physical activity. In cases of vitamin D deficiency, stamina and strength can be significantly reduced, leading to fatigue during low and intense physical activities.
- Muscle Pain: Continous muscle pain can be a vital sign of low Vitamin D levels in your body. This is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in keeping muscles relaxed and healthy. A deficiency in Vitamin D can contribute to overall muscle weakness in your body which will cause difficulty in movement even when you are performing basic functions.
- Painful Bones: Vitamin D is crucial for bone which helps your bones to absorb calcium and other vital nutrients in your bones. If your bones including joints experience daily pain, then this could be an alarming sign of Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency can cause bone damage which can lead to synovial joint damage, fracture, brittle bones and weak tendons.
- Sleep Problems: Vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of poor sleeping which is also known as insomnia. Vit D maintains the overall energy level in our body which can result in insomnia due to regular pain in bones and muscles, as well as fatigue which is also a major contributor to sleep disturbances.
- Sweaty Head: Excessive sweating on the head can be a potential sign of Vitamin D deficiency. This nutrient helps in maintaining body temperature. A deficiency of vitamin D will lead to an increase in sweating and potential dehydration in the body.
- Low Moods: Vitamin D has a role in stabilizing mood. Deficiency may contribute to mood swings and an inability to maintain a good and positive gesture. If you are experiencing regular rapid mood change then you should contact your primary care physician so that he can examine you for Vitamin D deficiency.
- Losing Hair: Vitamin D aids in healthy hair, nails and skin. Insufficient levels of vitamin D can lead to weak, thin, and brittle hair which causes hair loss and regular nail damage. In some cases, hair loss may contribute to personality disorders or changes in physiological traits.
- Excessive Body Weight: Vitamin D plays a role in metabolism regulation which supports maintaining body weight and also an increase in muscle mass. Vitamin D deficiency contributes to muscle weakness and mobility, regular bone pain and poor immune system due to which you will face difficulty in weight reduction and increases the risk of overweight obesity problems and also heart health issues.
- Slow Wound Healing: Vitamin D plays an important role in bone, muscle, and healthy skin. Vitamin D deficiency reduces immunity which results in delayed wound healing compared to individuals with normal Vitamin D levels.
- Dizziness: Vitamin D is an important source for maintaining neurological balance in your brain and body. Deficiency may lead to dizziness, making daily activities like driving, physical activity, mental work, and walking more challenging.
- Calcium Absorption: Vitamin D aids in absorbing calcium in bones which helps to increase bone immunity. Low intake of vitamin D and calcium affects your health which can lead to low bone density, making bones fragile and prone to fractures.
- Heart Problems: Vitamin D also known as Vit D deficiency contributes overall cardiovascular system by regulating blood vessels and maintaining blood flow from one part to another part of your body also preventing heart diseases. Low Vit D contributes to blood pressure which directly impacts your cardiovascular system and can increase your blood pressure.
- Reduced Cognitive Function: Memory and problem-solving approach is a major cognitive function in your body and is directly associated with your vitamin D level in your body. Deficiency results in difficulty remembering things and facing difficulty in remembering things in your body.
- Recurring Infections: Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system. Deficiency may lead to more frequent infections, making individuals prone to illnesses compared to those with sufficient Vitamin D levels.
What Are The Available Treatments For Vitamin D Deficiency?
Natural Vitamin D is produced when you get sunlight directly on your skin, but this method is no longer advised due to the high amount of UV ray absorption and also the potential risk of skin cancer from prolonged sunlight exposure.
Treatment for vitamin D deficiency typically involves supplements. Upon diagnosis, healthcare professionals may suggest the following options:
The primary approach to fulfill vitamin D deficiency is through oral supplements which are easily available in the market through over-the-counter/medical pharmacies. However, it’s crucial to seek dosage recommendations from a doctor.
For enhancing the absorption of vitamin D in your body you should incorporate magnesium supplements in your diet as well. In cases of severe deficiency, a healthcare provider might prescribe higher-dose vitamin D, potentially up to 50,000 IU.
Boosting your vitamin D-rich foods can contribute to covering vitamin D deficiency by including:
- Fatty fish
- Egg yolks
- Fortified cereals
- Fortified milk and juices
- Beef liver
- Other dairy products, such as yogurt
- Soy drinks
What is the Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin D?
If you are experiencing any deficiency, your family doctor will advise a suitable daily vitamin D intake based on your health conditions. Following the guidance of medical experts from various research centers is crucial for determining the recommended vitamin D intake. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is outlined below.