When Vitamin D Is Low What Happens

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when vitamin d is low what happens


Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments of Vitamin D Deficiency

When the body does not get enough vitamin D from sunlight or diet, it suffers from vitamin D deficiency. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone density loss, osteoporosis, and broken bones. Because your body produces vitamin D, it is also known as the "sunshine vitamin."

This vitamin has recently received a lot of attention because of its role in immune health, specifically COVID-19. It is also essential for bone health and many other vital functions throughout your body.

The average adult should get 1,500–2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. While certain foods, such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, do contain this vitamin, getting enough through diet alone is difficult.

As a result, vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies worldwide. This article discusses vitamin D and why it is essential to get enough of it.


What is the significance of vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for proper body function, including bone health and immunity. It may even help to prevent cancer and protect against a variety of chronic diseases, including

  • Depression caused by bone loss
  • Diabetes type 2
  • Multiple sclerosis and heart disease

An estimated 1 billion people worldwide have low vitamin D blood levels.

According to one study, nearly 42 percent of adults in the United States are vitamin D deficient. This figure rises to nearly 63 percent among Hispanic adults and 82 percent among black adults.


Vitamin D deficiency signs and symptoms

Vitamin D deficiency is difficult to detect because symptoms may not appear for months or years. You may not have any symptoms at all at times.

Keeping this in mind, knowing what signs and symptoms to look for is still beneficial.

Infections or illnesses that occur frequently

One of vitamin D's most important functions is to support immune health, which helps you fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness.


Vitamin D interacts directly with the cells responsible for fighting infections.

If you get sick frequently, especially with colds or the flu, low vitamin D levels may be a factor. A deficiency has been linked to respiratory tract infections in several large observational studies.

Several studies have found that taking up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day may lower the risk of respiratory tract infections.

Vitamin D deficiency has recently been linked to an increased risk of COVID-19, as well as an increased risk of experiencing severe symptoms from the condition. It is important to note, however, that taking vitamin D supplements — at any dose 


Tiredness and fatigue

A vitamin D deficiency is one of the many causes of tiredness. In contrast to more obvious causes such as stress, depression, and insomnia, vitamin D deficiency is frequently overlooked as a potential cause of fatigue. One study of 480 older adults found a link between vitamin D deficiency and fatigue symptoms.

Furthermore, a study of 39 children found that low vitamin D levels were associated with poor sleep quality, shorter sleep duration, and later bedtimes.

One observational study of female nurses discovered a strong relationship between low vitamin D levels and self-reported fatigue. Furthermore, 89 percent of the participants were vitamin D deficient.

Interestingly, several studies have found that supplementing with this vitamin may lessen the severity of fatigue in people who are deficient. Nonetheless, more research is required.


Back and bone pain

Inadequate vitamin D levels may cause bone and lower back pain. Vitamin D promotes bone health by improving calcium absorption in the body.

In one study of 98 adults with lower back pain, lower levels of vitamin D were linked to more severe pain. A large research review, however, discovered that this association was inconsistent across other similar studies.

A review of 81 studies also discovered that people with arthritis, muscle pain, and chronic widespread pain had lower levels of vitamin D than those who did not have these conditions. More research is still required.


Depression

Although some study results are contradictory, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, particularly in older adults.

The effects of vitamin D supplements have been mixed, but some studies have found that they can help relieve depression symptoms. More research is needed to fully understand the link between vitamin D and depression.


Wound healing is hampered.

Slow wound healing after surgery or injury may indicate a deficiency in vitamin D.

In fact, a test-tube study found that vitamin D increases the production of compounds required for the formation of new skin as part of the wound-healing process.

A meta-analysis of four studies discovered that vitamin D deficiency hampered certain aspects of healing in people who had dental surgery. The role of vitamin D in reducing inflammation and fighting infections may also be important for proper healing.

An older study of 221 people, 112 of whom had diabetes-related foot infections, discovered that those with severe vitamin D deficiency had higher levels of inflammatory markers that can jeopardize healing.


However, more research is required.

Bone deterioration

Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone metabolism. This is significant because taking vitamin D and calcium together allows your body to maximize absorption.

A decrease in bone mineral density indicates that your bones have lost calcium and other minerals. This increases the risk of fractures in older adults, particularly women.

Researchers discovered a strong link between low vitamin D levels and low bone mineral density in a large observational study of over 1,100 middle-aged menopausal or postmenopausal women.

However, studies on vitamin D supplementation therapy in independent older adults have produced conflicting results. While some studies show some benefits, such as reduced muscle pain, others have found that it does not prevent fractures.

According to one study, women who were deficient in vitamin D saw no improvement in bone mineral density when they took high dose supplements, even though their blood levels improved.

Nonetheless, getting enough vitamin D may be a good way to protect your bone mass and lower your risk of fracture.


Loss of hair

Many foods and nutrients can have an impact on hair health.

While stress is a common cause of hair loss, severe hair loss can be caused by a disease or a nutrient deficiency.

Women's hair loss is linked to low vitamin D levels, though research is limited.

Low vitamin D levels, in particular, have been linked to alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease characterized by severe hair loss.

In one study of people with this condition, lower vitamin D levels were linked to more severe hair loss. Another study in 48 people with this condition found that applying a synthetic form of vitamin D topically for 12 weeks increased hair regrowth significantly.

According to another study, vitamin D levels may have an inverse relationship with non-scarring hair loss. This means that higher vitamin D levels resulted in less hair loss in the study, and vice versa.


Muscle ache

Muscle pain is frequently difficult to diagnose. However, evidence suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be a contributing factor.

In an earlier study, 71% of people with chronic pain were found to be vitamin D deficient.

The vitamin D receptor is found in pain-sensing nerve cells called nociceptors. This vitamin may also be involved in pain signaling pathways in your body, which may play a role in chronic pain .

According to a few studies, high dose vitamin D supplements may reduce various types of pain in people who are vitamin D deficient.

A single dose of vitamin D reduced pain scores by an average of 57 percent in one study of 120 children with vitamin D deficiency who had growing pains.


gaining weight

One risk factor for vitamin D deficiency is obesity. One adult study discovered a possible link between low vitamin D status and both belly fat and increased weight, tough the effects were stronger in men.

While vitamin D deficiency has been linked to obesity, more research is needed to determine whether supplementing with this vitamin can help prevent weight gain.

when vitamin d is low what happens


Anxiety

Anxiety disorders have been linked to vitamin D deficiency.

According to one study, people with anxiety and depression had lower levels of calcidiol, a type of vitamin D.

A separate study in pregnant women discovered that adequate vitamin D levels can help reduce anxiety symptoms, improve sleep quality, and even prevent postpartum depression.

More research is still required.


What causes a lack of vitamin D?

Blood levels of vitamin D below 20 ng/mL are considered deficient, while levels between 21–29 ng/mL are considered insufficient.

While there is no single cause of deficiency, certain underlying conditions or lifestyle factors may increase your overall risk. The following are some of the most common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency:

  • possessing dark skin
  • being older, being overweight or obese, not eating a lot of fish or dairy, living far from the equator or in areas with little sunlight all year
  • remaining or working inside
  • working nights and weekends
  • being suffering from chronic kidney disease, liver disease, or hyperparathyroidism
  • having a disease that impairs nutrient absorption, such as Crohn's disease or celiac diseaseundergoing gastric bypass surgery
  • using medications that affect vitamin D metabolism, such as statins and steroids

People who live near the equator and get plenty of sun are less likely to be deficient because their skin produces enough vitamin D.

While people who frequently wear sunscreen outside are at an increased risk of deficiency, using sunscreen is important to reduce sun damage and cancer risk. If you are at high risk of deficiency, speak with a doctor about your vitamin D status.


How is vitamin D deficiency treated?

Supplements are typically used to treat vitamin D deficiency. If a healthcare professional discovers that you have a deficiency, they may suggest the following treatments.


Supplements

Vitamin D deficiency is typically treated with oral supplements. You can get these over the counter, but you should consult a doctor for dosage recommendations.

Magnesium aids in the activation of vitamin D, so you may want to supplement with this mineral as well. A doctor may prescribe prescription vitamin D for severe deficiency, which comes in much higher doses of up to 50,000 IU. Vitamin D injections may also be recommended by your doctor.


Sources of food

Consuming more vitamin D-rich foods may also help. Options include:

  • egg yolks from fatty fish
  • cereals fortified
  • milk and juice fortified
  • Beef liver yogurt

Because sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, your doctor may also advise you to spend more time outside. However, given the negative effects of excessive UV exposure, it is critical to take precautions by limiting your total exposure. applying sunscreen and spending time in the sun


Vitamin D deficiency tests

Simple blood tests can help determine whether you are deficient in vitamin D. This vitamin exists in two forms in your blood:

  • Calcidiol, or 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH D).


Calcitriol, or 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D

The 25-hydroxy vitamin D test is the most commonly used test for vitamin D deficiency. This is due to the fact that 25-hydroxy, or calcidiol, has higher concentrations and remains in your blood longer, making it easier to detect.

You may also be able to perform an at-home test in which you collect a small drop of blood using a simple finger prick. These tests are simple and convenient, but you may still need the assistance of a healthcare professional to interpret the results.


When should you see a doctor?

It can be difficult to tell if you are deficient in vitamin D because the symptoms can be subtle. Furthermore, it is possible to be deficient in vitamin D without experiencing any symptoms.

As a general rule, if you notice any possible symptoms, especially if you have any risk factors, consult a doctor to check for vitamin D deficiency. Your doctor may also be able to rule out other possible causes for some of your symptoms.


Last Word

Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common, but the symptoms are often subtle and nonspecific, making it difficult to distinguish between a deficiency and another health condition. If you suspect you have a deficiency, request a blood test from your doctor.

Vitamin D deficiency is usually treated with supplements, but the correct dosage may require the advice of a doctor. Getting more sun and eating more vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish and fortified dairy products can also help. Addressing a vitamin D deficiency is worthwhile and can have long-term health benefits.

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