What is Vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D has several important functions in our body. It helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate absorbed by the body, which is important for growth, developing strong bones and keeping teeth healthy.
Vitamin D is not produced in our body naturally and therefore needs to be sufficiently acquired from sunlight on our skin and can also be found in a small number of food items such as oily fish, eggs, fortified fat spreads and cereals.
A lack of Vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain and tenderness due to the development of osteomalacia in adults. It is linked with an increased risk for serious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, autoimmune disorders and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D deficiency is fairly common and most prevalent during the months of winter and spring.
It is extremely difficult to recognise the signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. Most people who have this condition aren’t aware of it due to the lack of noticeable symptoms.
The lack of sufficient amount of Vitamin D can cause;
- Muscle/joint pain and weakness
- Bone pain
- Osteomalacia – walking in a waddling pattern due to pain
Babies and young children facing a lack of Vitamin D may experience;
- Muscle spasms
- Breathing difficulties
- Bow-legged formation and pain in the legs
- Poor growth
- Tooth delay
- Proneness to infections
Our bodies cannot produce Vitamin D on its own, we need to get it from our environment. The primary source for vitamin D is the sun, one can also get it from certain foods.
Certain groups of people are at a higher risk of developing Vitamin D deficiency, including;
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Babies under 5 years of age
- Senior people over 65 years of age
- People on a vegan diet
- Obese or overweight persons
- People suffering from digestive diseases, such as Crohn’s or Coeliac disease
- People not exposed to much sun
- People with darker skin; African-American, South Asian
To diagnose Vitamin D deficiency, your GP will thoroughly examine your symptoms and arrange for a blood test; 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test. It is the simplest and most straightforward way to diagnose the condition.
The ideal range of Vitamin D in your blood is 50-80 ng/ml. Results showing lower levels indicate a deficiency.
To treat Vitamin D deficiency, we prescribe Vitamin supplements. Foods containing Vitamin D are not enough to correct the deficiency as their potency is too low.
A daily dose of Vitamin D supplements such as Alphacalcidol or Pro D3 ought to reverse the deficiency.