Vitamin D Function and Deficiency
Vitamin D together with vitamins A, E and K belongs to a group of fat soluble vitamins. People who avoid exposure to sun, those who are suffering from milk allergies as well as vegans are at higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is produced in human body but for this it is also necessary that a person is exposed to certain amount of sunlight. This vitamin is also available in certain foods such as fish, egg yolks, and grains and in almost all dairy products.
This fat soluble vitamin is of great importance for proper development of bones. Deficiency of vitamin D causes a serious medical condition called rickets. Unfortunately, this disease has not been eradicated because in some parts of the world people still suffer from undernourishment and a variety of vitamin deficiencies including deficiency of vitamin D.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
People who are suffering from vitamin D deficiency experience pain in bones and weakness of muscles. Still, in majority of people the symptoms may not be noticeable.
In vitamin D deficiency its levels in the blood are low and this may consequently result in significant risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, cognitive aggravation in adults, and asthma in children. Vitamin D deficiency can additionally be a risk factor for cancer.
This vitamin also plays important role in prevention of certain medical conditions such as, both types of diabetes, increased blood pressure, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis.
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
The leading cause of deficiency is improper intake of vitamin D. This may affect people who are starving and strict vegans. Furthermore, restriction in exposure to sunlight can be another cause of vitamin D deficiency. People with dark skin may suffer from vitamin D deficiency more comparing to other races because the excessive presence of pigment melanin may interfere in production of vitamin D.
Another cause can be related to improper function of kidneys. Namely, the kidneys are in charge of converting vitamin D into its active form. Even certain diseases of gastrointestinal tract may cause insufficient absorption of vitamin D.
And finally, overweight people are more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency because in them fat cells extract vitamin D from the blood.
The deficiency is confirmed by the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. The treatment includes enhanced intake of vitamin D via food, supplements and longer exposure to sunlight. There are prescribed daily doses for this vitamin and they must not be exceeded since the intake of too much vitamin D may lead to serious complications. The doctor will decide how much vitamin D a patient is supposed to take on daily basis and he/she will follow the improvement of the condition.