Vitamin D Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Vitamin D refers to a group of fat soluble secosteroids which are responsible for improving intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. Vitamin D exists in five different forms, namely Vitamin D1, Vitamin D2, Vitamin D3, Vitamin D4 and Vitamin D5. Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2 are the most important among the rest of the types of Vitamin D.


Sources of vitamin D:


The most common source of vitamin D is sunlight. 15 minutes a day is usually considered sufficient for enough vitamin D. Alternatively, 5 to 15 minutes of sun exposure at least twice weekly between 10 AM to 3 PM in spring, summer and autumn will be sufficient. Exposure should be targeted at the face, arms, hands, and back. Long exposure requires protection of the skin with clothing and sunscreen lotion.


If sufficient sunlight is not obtained, dietary sources of vitamin D may be utilized. The major food sources are milk, orange juice, soya milk and cereals. Seafood such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna in oil and cod liver oil are rich in vitamin D. Food products such as egg yolk and liver contain high amounts of vitamin D.




A diet deficiency of Vitamin D due to inadequate sun exposure causes osteomalacia which is commonly known as rickets in children. Rickets or osteomalacia usually leads to softening of the bones. In this modernized world, it is very rare to find this disease. However, somehow this deficiency has become an issue worldwide because it still affects old people, adults and children. A low level of calcidiol can also be an outcome of avoiding the sun. This deficiency results in impaired bone mineralization and bone damage which leads to bone softening diseases. The insufficiency of Vitamin D also leads to skin pigmentation in dark skinned people.


Diagnosing vitamin D deficiency:


The diagnosis of Vitamin D deficiency requires a simple blood test, but determining the optimal level of vitamin D is not quite so simple. The value from the test determines the deficiency of Vitamin D.

·  Deficiency: 25(OH)D level BELOW 12 ng/mL

·  Inadequate: 25(OH)D level BETWEEN 12-20 ng/mL

·  An adequate 25(OH)D level is between 20-50 ng/mL

·  Excessive: 25(OH)D level over 50 ng/mL

By comparing the test value with the chart we can find the level of Vitamin D in the body.




Treatment is given depending on the severity of the test results. A specific amount of supplements is given according to requirement. When the blood level is below 30 ng/mL, a minimum of 1,000 IU/day of vitamin D3 will be needed for children and 1,500 to 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D3 for adults.


We should also keep a check over the amount of Vitamin D intake. The symptoms of an excess intake of Vitamin D are weakness, confusion, constipation, loss of appetite and development of painful calcium deposits. To avoid this, the supplement level should be kept in check.


If you're concerned about whether you're getting enough vitamin D, talk to your doctor.


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