Vitamin D deficiency -a worldwide problem
August 31, 2020 | Khurram Altaf

Vitamin D deficiency -a worldwide problem

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Vitamin D inadequacy implies that you are not getting enough vitamin D to remain healthy. It is a worldwide general medical problem. Around 1 billion individuals worldwide have vitamin D lack, while half of the populace has vitamin D insufficiency. The pervasiveness of patients with vitamin D inadequacy is most noteworthy in the older, patients of obesity, nursing home inhabitants, and hospitalized patients. Vitamin D is fat-soluble vitamin and important for bone metabolism and calcium homeostasis.  It is also known as sunshine vitamin because it needs sunlight for activation in the body.  Its deficiency leads many complications i.e. bone weakness, fractures, joint pain, muscle pain and other problems etc. 

What causes lead to vitamin D insufficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency results for various reasons; some of them are:

o Low dietary intake/ malabsorption (not absorbing enough vitamin)

Certain malabsorption conditions, for example gastric bypass, short bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis and chronic pancreatic insufficiency may prompt vitamin D lack. Lower vitamin D oral intake is more predominant in the elderly people.

o Low exposure to sun light

The exposure to sunlight is responsible for synthesis of vitamin D 50% to 80% through skin while rest of vitamin is fulfilled via diet. Individuals with dark skin tone and aged persons both have less cutaneous vitamin D synthesis.

o Defective liver and kidney

Any disorder of kidney or liver i.e. liver cirrhosis leads to inadequacy of vitamin D because in vitamin D metabolism, liver and kidney both play essential part.

o Medication

Some medicines i.e. rifampin, phenobarbitrol, dexamethasone and so on involve in Vitamin D degradation. 

o Geographical areas

The areas which are far away from equator have little exposure of sun so risk of vitamin D deficiency may high than to those which are near equator.

o Breastfeeding infants

 Vitamin D is low in human milk so there is high risk of vitamin D deficiency in infants. 

o Other reasons

 Being obese, mostly stay indoors, excessive use of sun-blocks, weight loss surgeries etc may lead to lack of vitamin D.

Which symptoms can be examined in vitamin D deficient individuals?

Vitamin D deficient individual may have following signs and symptoms:

o Fatigue

People who have low level of vitamin D in blood tired soon.

o Sickness

Vitamin D plays important role in immune system and its deficiency leads you ill early

o Bones pain

Vitamin D contributes major role in absorption of calcium in bones and make them strong. The people who have low level of vitamin D may have twice chances of getting bone pain than those who are healthy. 

o Depression

 A close interaction between vitamin D inadequacy and depression especially in adults or older people has been observed.

o Slow wound healing

 Vitamin D deficiency results in impaired healing of wounds because vitamin D is essential for controlling swelling, redness and soreness.

o Muscle pain

There is some evidence that vitamin D lack might be a likely reason for muscle torment in kids and elders

Which complications results in vitamin D deficiency?

Severe vitamin D deficiency cause potential complications:

o Hypocalcaemia

Low calcium level in blood or plasma results in seizures, tetany etc

o Hypophosphatemia

 It is electrolyte disorder results in weakness, loss of appetite, bone pain etc

o Rickets

Weakening and softening of bones in children due to severe and prolong Vitamin D inadequacy.  Impaired growth, bowed legs, sleeping trouble, bone pain and some other symptoms are observed in vitamin D deficient children.

o Osteomalacia

 Softening of bones and diffused joints in adults’ results in impaired bone metabolism due to the severe deficiency of calcium, phosphate and particularly vitamin D.  

o Cognitive disorders

 Vitamin D deficiency commonly observed in patients with dementia, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson’s disease and anxiety disorders.

o Heart diseases

In a study it has been examined that the risk of heart diseases is 60% more in vitamin D deficient.

o Other complications

 Vitamin D deficiency may lead to other complications i.e.  osteopenia (low bone density), osteoporosis (weakening of bones), Alopecia areata (hair loss), hypertension, diabetes mellitus, autoimmune disorders and so on.

How is vitamin D deficiency diagnosed?

 Blood test is recommended by your doctor to evaluate the level of vitamin D in blood. There are two kinds of tests that might be suggested, anyway the most notable is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D, known as 25(OH)D for short. For the blood test, an expert will use a needle to take blood from a vein. A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/ml is seen as adequate for typical people. A level less than 12 ng/ml presents vitamin D deficiency.

How can vitamin D deficiency be treated?

It is necessary to attain RDA (recommended daily allowance) through diet or supplements for treatment and prevention of vitamin D deficiency.

o Natural vitamin D can be getting from food i.e.  certain fish (salmon), cod liver oil, egg yolk, Shiitake mushrooms, dairy products, cereals etc

o Adequate sun exposure in winter season may fulfill vitamin D requirement 

o Doctors may recommend dietary and supplemental sources of vitamin D according to your body needs. Oral ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and dosages of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) are recommended to attain RDA o vitamin in individuals. 

Covid-19 and vitamin D deficiency:  Vitamin D synthesis in body needs exposure to sun light. During winter vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent. High risk of vitamin D deficiency has been mostly observed in covid-19 patients and other patients due to limited transportation and quarantine situation

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Khurram Altaf

Director Operations and Marketing