Vitamin D deficiency is a condition where the blood serum levels of vitamin D’s storage form, 25(OH)D or calcidiol, are lower than that which the body needs to properly maintain health.
A deficiency in vitamin D should not be allowed to remain uncorrected for too long, even in those who are healthy. The longer the deficiency is allowed to persist, the greater the risk of serious health complications such as chronic illness, debilitation, or even early mortality. 12345
What causes vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency occurs from lack of proper sun exposure.
Humans are designed to fulfill vitamin D needs by producing it in response to exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) light from the Sun. Vitamin D deficiency occurs as a result of a lack of consistent exposure of bare skin to the Sun’s UVB light.
The modern lifestyle
Human behavior, specifically the sun avoidance of the modern lifestyle, is the predominant factor influencing the rise we see in vitamin D deficiency today.
In addition, due to the physiology of vitamin D, certain members of the population are at even greater risk.
Vitamin D deficiency risk factors
Blacks are at greatest risk of vitamin D deficiency, due to higher skin melanin content.
- Insufficient UVB exposure – working and playing indoors, covering up with clothes or sunscreen when outside, residing at a high latitude.
- Aging – seniors are at greater risk due to lack of mobility and skin that is less responsive to UVB. 6
- Darker skin – high incidence of vitamin D deficiency and its associated conditions in Blacks is widely documented. 7891011
- Breastfeeding – breastfeeding will result in vitamin D deficiency in the baby if the mother fails to ensure her own levels are high enough to provide for her baby’s needs. When the mother is deficient, the breast-fed child will be deficient due to the low vitamin D content of the mother’s breast milk. 1213
- Obesity – fat-soluble vitamin D gets trapped in adipose tissue, preventing its metabolization and utilization by the body. 141516
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency could be described as chronic pain, weak bones, frequent infections, depression, etc., but the same will not be true for everyone who is deficient. Because the possible effects of vitamin D deficiency are wide-ranging and can manifest in the body in any number of ways, there are no specific associated symptoms.
- How to obtain a vitamin D test.
- Health conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency/lack of sun exposure.
Page last edited: 08 August 2011
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- Fiscella, K. Winters, P. Tancredi, D. Hendren, S. Franks, P. Racial disparity in death from colorectal cancer: does vitamin D deficiency contribute?. Cancer. 2010 Oct 13;
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- Hollis, B. W. Wagner, C. L. Vitamin D requirements during lactation: high-dose maternal supplementation as therapy to prevent hypovitaminosis D for both the mother and the nursing infant. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec; 80 (6 Suppl): 1752S-8S.
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