Vitamin D Deficiency – Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Vitamin D deficiency happens when the body doesn’t get sufficient vitamin D from diet or sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency can cause bone density loss, broken bones, and osteoporosis.

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because the body makes it from cholesterol when your skin gets exposed to sunlight.

This vitamin has recently gained more attention for its role in immune health, particularly regarding COVID 19. It is also critical to bone health and several essential functions in the body.

It is no surprise, then, that vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies around the world.


Why Is Vitamin D So Important?

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Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for the proper functioning of the body, including immunity and none health. It may even help to prevent cancer and save against many chronic conditions, including:

Keeping bones strong

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Getting healthy bones saves you from different conditions, including rickets. Rickets is a kind of disorder that led children to get bones that are soft and weak.

It is occurred by less vitamin D in the body. You need vitamin D, so that phosphorus and calcium can be used to form bones. In adults, getting soft bones is a condition named osteomalacia.


Absorbing calcium

Vitamin D with calcium helps to grow bones and helps bones be healthy and strong. Weak bones can cause osteoporosis, the loss of bone density, which can cause fractures. Vitamin D, once either taken from sunshine or orally exposed is then converted to an active type of the vitamin. It is that activity that boosts optimal absorption of calcium from the diet.


Working with parathyroid glands

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The parathyroid glands work to minute to control the calcium in the blood by signaling with the kidneys, skeleton, and gut. When there is enough calcium in the diet and enough active vitamin D, dietary calcium is absorbed and kept to good use by the body. If calcium consumption is not sufficient or vitamin D is low, the parathyroid glands will get calcium from the skeleton to manage the blood calcium in the normal range.


What causes vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to specific medical conditions, such as:

Crohn’s disease, Cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease: These diseases do not make the intestines absorb sufficient vitamin D from a supplement.


Weight loss surgeries

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Weight loss surgeries that lower the size of the stomach or bypasses part of the small intestines make it very difficult to eat enough quantities of some vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. These individuals need to be carefully monitored by their physician and need to continue to consume vitamin D and different supplements throughout their lives.



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A body mass index higher than 30 is linked with lower vitamin D levels. Fat cells keep vitamin D isolated so that it is not removed. Vitamin D deficiency is more likely in obese people. Obesity often makes it important to take higher doses of vitamin D supplements to reach and control normal D levels.


Kidney and liver diseases

These diseases lower the amount of an enzyme required to change the vitamin D to a type that is utilized in the body. Low enzyme leads to enough level of active vitamin D in the body.


What other elements can lead to vitamin D deficiency?

Age: The ability of the skin to make vitamin D lower with age

Mobility: People who rarely go outside or are homebound outside, for example, people in nursing homes and different facilities are not able to utilize sun exposure as a source of vitamin D.


Skin color: Dark-colored skin is lower able to make vitamin D than fair-colored skin.


Human breast milk:

A female’s breast milk only consists of a small quantity of vitamin D. Often infant formulas have a small amount of D also. Therefore, infants are at the risk of not getting sufficient vitamin D. It is especially true for infants who are only provided breast milk.


Vitamin D Deficiency and Health Effects

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Getting sufficient vitamin D may also help in keeping you healthy by saving against the following conditions and possibly treating them. These conditions can have:

  • Diabetes
  • Falls in older people
  • high blood pressure
  • Heart disease and
  • Infections
  • immune system disorders
  • Cancer, such as prostate, colon, and breast cancers
  • Multiple sclerosis


Signs And Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency can be hard to see because symptoms may not happen for many months or years. Sometimes, you may not get any symptoms.

Remember, it is still helpful to understand symptoms and signs.


Frequent Infection or Illness

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Vitamin D helps the immune system, which removes bacteria and viruses that lead to illness.

Vitamin D directly affects the cells that are responsible for knowing infection.

If you often get sick, particularly with flu and colds, low vitamin D levels may be a reason for the flu. Large observational research has shown a link between respiratory tract infection and deficiency such as bronchitis, colds, and pneumonia.

Recently, vitamin D deficiency has been connected to a raised risk of COVID 19, also getting severe effects of your condition. However, it is essential to note that consuming vitamin D supplements at any dosage will not stop COVID-19.


Fatigue and tiredness

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Feeling tired can stem from several causes, one of which may be a deficiency of vitamin D.

Unlike more noticeable causes like depression, stress, and insomnia, vitamin D deficiency is often overlooked as a possible cause of fatigue.


Can medications lead to a vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D levels can be lowered by some medication. These include:



Seizure-control drugs

Cholesterol-lowering drugs

A weight-loss drug (orlistat)

A tuberculosis drug (rifampin)

Always talk to your physician about the drugs you consume and any vitamin D supplements or different supplements or alternative health products that you consume.


What are the sources of vitamin D?

You can have vitamin D in different ways. These can have:

Being exposed to the sun, around 15-20 minutes three days every week is normally sufficient

from the foods you eat

from nutritional supplement


What does sunlight have to do with obtaining enough vitamin D?

Sunlight provides different health benefits. Vitamin D is offered when your skin I exposed to sunshine, or instead of the ultraviolet B radiation that the sun emits. The vitamin D amount that skin depends on such factors as:

The season

This factor depends on where you stay. In parts like OH, and Cleveland, the UV-B light does not reach the earth for 6-months out of the year because of the ozone layer and the sun zenith.


The time of day:

The sun’s rays are very strong between 10 am to 3 pm

The amount of air pollution and cloud cover


Where you live:

Cities near the equator get higher UV light levels. It is the UV-B light in sunlight that led your skin to prepare vitamin D.


The melanin content of your skin:

Melanin is a brown-black pigment in the eye, skin, and hair. It leads to tan skin. Melanin causes tan on the skin. The darker your skin, the extra sun exposure is required to get enough vitamin D from the sun.



What Does Your Diet Need to Do with Obtaining Enough Vitamin D?

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Vitamin D does not happen naturally in different foods. That is why some foods get vitamin D. In fact, new food nutrition labels show the vitamin D quantity consists in some food items. It may be difficult, particularly for vegans or people who have lactose intolerant to get sufficient vitamin D from their diets, which is why some people may select to take supplements. It is always essential to eat a variety of healthy foods with sufficient vitamin D in their diets, which is why some people may choose to take supplements. The vitamin content of several foods is shown in the following table.

How Much Vitamin D Do You Require?

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In healthy people, the vitamin D required each day varies by age. The chart under shows the often cited suggested by the Institution-of-Medicine. It is essential to understand that these are normal recommendations. If your physician is checking your levels of blood, she or he might suggest higher or reduced doses based on your individual needs. If you get osteoporosis, your physician might recommend a blood test of your vitamin D levels.

The quantity of vitamin D supplements can be customized for every person based on the results. For several older patients, a vitamin D supplement consisting of anywhere between 800-2000 IUs every day, which can be taken without a prescription, can be both beneficial and safe. It is essential to speak with your physician about the needs of the individual.


Diagnosis And Tests

How Is a Vitamin D Deficiency Diagnosed?

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Your physician can order a blood test to estimate your vitamin D level. There are two types of tests that might be called, but the most common is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D, called 25 (OH)D for short. For the blood test, a technician will utilize a needle to extract blood from a vein. You do not require to fast or else prepare for this test.


What do Vitamin D test Results tell?

There are some different views about what vitamin D levels work the good for every person. Laboratories might utilize different numbers for reference. Please talk about your results with your physician.


How Often Should You Check Your Vitamin D Levels?

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Physicians do not commonly order routine checks on vitamin D levels, but they might require to check your levels if you have any medical conditions or vitamin D deficiency risk factors. Sometimes vitamin D levels can be checked as a cause of signs such as long-term body pain, a history of bone fractures, or falls without significant trauma.


Management And Treatment

How Is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated?

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The treatment goal and prevention are similar to reaching and then controlling a sufficient vitamin D level in the body. While you might consider consuming extra foods that consist of vitamin D and having some sunlight, you will likely be told to consume vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D comes in 2 forms: D2 and D3. D2, also called ergocalciferol, comes from plants, and D3, also named cholecalciferol present in animals.

You need a prescription to have D2. D3, however, is found over the counter. It is very easily absorbed than D2 and lasts longer in the body dose-for-dose. Work with your physician to get out if you need to consume a vitamin supplement and how much to take if it is required.


Can You Ever Take Extra Vitamin D?

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You can take more vitamin D if you overconsume the supplements. You cannot take more vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D toxicity is very less but can lead to hypercalcemia and together the signs can include:

  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Constipation
  • Poor appetite
  • Ataxia

Do not intake higher than suggested doses of vitamin D without first discussing it with your physician. However, your physician might suggest more vitamin D doses if he or she is checking your blood levels and balancing your dose accordingly. Also, be careful about having more doses of vitamin A with the D in some fish oils. Vitamin A can also have toxic levels and can lead to serious problems.


Vitamin D Deficiency Prevention

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The goals of treating and stopping the vitamin D of treatment and prevention are similar to getting and having a sufficient level of vitamin D in the body. Your physician’s offer will let you know if you understand to take or continue vitamin D supplements intake. You might also wish to consider:

Eat high vitamin D foods

Choose high vitamin D foods to get enough vitamin D. Remember that foods alone commonly do not meet the everyday recommended vitamin D levels.


Get Some Good Sunshine Exposure

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How much exact sun exposure one need is not clear. Spending 10-15 minutes of sun exposure in the early morning on the arms, face, legs, and back may be all that is required to absorb a suitable vitamin D amount. You might need extra sun exposure if:

You are aged

You live in northern climates

You have a dark skin complexion

The use of sunscreen and standing back in a window, stop vitamin D from being created in the skin. However, you should know that more sunshine raises the skin cancer risk and ages the skin. That is why consuming a right-dosed vitamin D supplement is safer than intentionally having routine sun exposure.


Health Benefits of Vitamin D

By eating the right level of vitamin D rich food sources, one can feel several multiple health benefits of vitamin D as the following:


Weight Management

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Whether Vitamin D deficiency leads to obesity or obesity can also cause vitamin D deficiency is still not clear. However, if you are getting difficulty lowering weight, you may wish to consider having your vitamin D level checked.


Nervous System And Cancer

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Several reports claim that people with fewer levels of vitamin D may experience a lack of attention, focus, and poor decision-making skills. Many research discovered that the right vitamin D levels can help to lower breast cancer or colon cancer risk.


Bone and Muscle Health

Vitamin D-rich foods help calcium absorption and help in growing bone density and resistance. Also, it helps to sustain healthy muscles in life. If you are an aged person with good levels of vitamin D-rich food consumption, you are less likely to be poor muscle, lazy, prone to falls, and muscle strength.


List of Vitamin D Rich Foods in India

Common signs of vitamin D deficiency have weak muscles, decreased bone density, and compromised resistance of the body to some diseases. In severe deficiency cases, it may also lead to asthma in cognitive impairment or children at intolerance to glucose, older age, and multiple sclerosis. However, do not worry since the vitamin D amount we eat is in our hands. Here is a list of vitamin D rich foods source



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Mushrooms are an essential source of Vitamin D. Because of your diet, it is at least four times a week. It is one of the healthiest vitamin D-rich foods that will shoot up its level. How you eat it is your call, you can cook it, pan fry it, or bake it to turn it into a healthy and tasty treat. It is claimed to have more benefits from mushrooms sundry them before eating as they naturally create vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.



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Cheese is one of the top vitamin D-rich food. Getting more cheese is the tastiest and easiest solution to solve vitamin D deficiency. Out of all cheeses, ricotta cheese is a good source of vitamin D. Therefore, finally including an extra layer of cheese on toast may be a good idea.



Whether it is tuna or mackerel or an eel, all types of fish have high vitamin D. It is noted that more fatty or oily fish consist extra vitamin D than less oily like thick fillet of salmon.



Eggs are a rich source of vitamin D. The vitamins present in an egg come from the yolk. Therefore, it is essential to use the whole egg and not avoid the white-containing vitamins. When eating an egg, always remember to consume the most nutritious egg part i.e. egg yolk. However, a single egg has low vitamin D levels. As claimed, you can have a 10% suggested dose of the vitamin by eating an egg daily.



It is a milk extract from a plant that is created by drying, soaking, and grinding soybeans in water. Although soymilk consists of almost a similar amount of protein as regular milk, it is high in vitamin D along with different vitamins like iron and vitamin C.


Other Soy products

If you do not like soy milk, you can change with myriad other soy products easily found in the market like soy chunks and tofu. These two are healthy sources of vitamin D and therefore have been included in our list of vitamin D-rich foods.


Fortified cereals

Breakfast cereals and oatmeal’s are fortified with different vitamins. Check the label to assure that you are having the right amount of vitamin D in your body. Also, cereal like all your complete wheat grains including soybean atta, ragi, and barley.

If vitamin D-rich foods do not benefit you to compensate for the vitamin deficiency, please check with your physician.



According to studies by nutritionists, a single glass of milk offers you 20% of your everyday need for vitamin D.

When taking milk, always opt for complete fat milk since skimming the milk eliminates its more needed vitamin D contents as it is a fat-soluble type of vitamin. Other products prepared from whole milk also consist of this vitamin.



All people with butter enthusiasm, no need to worry since butter is also one of the foods with rich vitamin D. Despite being glared upon by different dieticians and gym freaks, this fatty food is called to consist vitamin D, though in small quantities. Butter also helps the absorption of vitamin D and is different get from different sources with antioxidants by the body.

Remember that quantity is important. One look to not eat butter in extra. If taken in moderation, butter can be a healthy addition to a vitamin consumption diet.


Other Food Items

Some other common foods rich in vitamin D are foods that have high calcium and protein content like:

  • Avocado
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Broccoli
  • Dry fruits like peanuts and walnut 


Vitamin D: Caution

Overconsumption of anything can lead to adverse effects. This basic rule applies in the case of this pre-vitamin also. Overconsumption of vitamin D may lead to several health conditions, including poor, nausea, constipation, appetite, weakness, weight loss, and kidney damage.

Remember not to take more than 4000 IU each day, whether it be through sun basking, supplements, and food items. 

This deficiency is recognized as a serious medical condition by many dieticians and physicians. 

Vitamin D prevents chronic diseases like diabetes and heart diseases. It boosts cell growth and maintains the immune system. Physicians commonly prescribe supplements to treat vitamin D deficiency. But should choose natural sources to get the much-required vitamin by out body from dietary modifications.


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