Vitamin D Deficiency: Signs and Symptoms
Vitamin D is extremely important for bone formation and bone strength, but vitamin D also has many other functions in the body. We get most of our required vitamin D through our diet and a small portion is made by our body with the help of sun light.
But what are some of the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency?
In adults, severe vitamin D deficiency can cause weakened bones (osteomalacia) and muscle weakness. When the vitamin D deficiency is less severe, symptoms can include loss of appetite, weight loss, a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, insomnia, visual problems, and diarrhea.
In children, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, which results in soft bones and skeletal deformities due to bone tissue not being mineralized properly. Rickets is often caused by a lack of sun exposure or a diet that lacks enough vitamin D.
Rickets incidence levels used to be quite low, but have been on the rise recently. It is thought that excessive breast feeding without proper vitamin supplementation, lack of sun exposure and/or extensive use of sunscreens, spending too much time playing indoors and a diet which lacks proper vitamin D levels, are all contributing to the symptoms of severe vitamin D deficiency in children today.
Who is at risk for developing a vitamin D deficiency?
Individuals who have trouble absorbing nutrients from their digestive tract, who take below the recommended dosage of vitamin D, who have limited exposure to the sun, and whose kidneys cannot synthesize active vitamin D from its precursor are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. In addition, certain drugs including some cholesterol lowering drugs, antacids and steroid hormones can interfere with vitamin D absorption. Also, gall bladder disease, certain liver conditions and intestinal disorders such as Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease can interfere with proper vitamin D absorption.
Because the early signs of a vitamin D deficiency may go unnoticed, individuals at risk can have their blood tested for a specific form of vitamin D.