Vitamin D: What is it, Deficiency, Deficiency Symptoms and Deficiency Treatment?
Vitamin D deficiency is a fairly common condition in our country. In order to prevent problems related to vitamin D deficiency, society needs to be conscious about vitamin D. Eating healthy and getting enough sunlight are very important in preventing vitamin D deficiency.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is among the fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin D can be taken externally from food or produced in the body.
Vitamin D in the body
- Protecting bone and dental health
- Cell division, differentiation
- glucose metabolism
- It has effects in many areas such as regulating immune system functions.
Although vitamin D is a vitamin, it acts like a hormone. There are vitamin D receptors in many cells in the body, and vitamin D binds to these receptors and performs its functions within the cell.
Many studies are being conducted on vitamin D. In light of these studies, it has been shown that vitamin D can provide benefits in many areas of the body. For example:
- High doses of vitamin D help prevent osteoporosis. Thus, problems such as falls and fall-related fractures can be prevented, especially in the elderly.
- Vitamin D contributes to increased physical strength in both lower and upper extremities (limbs).
- There is a study showing that taking 1,100 IU of vitamin D daily can prevent the development of cancer.
- Vitamin D may help relieve clinical symptoms of depression.
- One study showed that vitamin D intake in infants reduces the risk of type 1 diabetes.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the body from the precursor molecule called cholesterol. Sunlight is needed to produce the vitamin. Skin cells exposed to sunlight produce vitamin D. In order for this produced molecule to transform into its more active form, it must go through various stages in the kidney and liver. Vitamin D, which becomes active as a result of these stages, can begin to show its effect in the body.
What are the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency causes a disease called rickets in children.
The most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are:
- bone pain
- Muscle weakness, muscle pain or cramping
- Mood disorder such as depression
What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency?
Not getting enough vitamin D that the body needs causes deficiency. Conditions that cause deficiency can be divided into 3 basic groups:
- Not getting enough vitamin D through diet
- Disorder in vitamin D absorption and metabolism
- not getting enough sun
Considering the basic conditions that lead to vitamin D deficiency, it can be seen that some groups are at risk for deficiency. These groups:
- Older People: The ability to produce vitamin D decreases with aging. Again, these people go outside less and get less sunlight, which also poses a risk of deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency in elderly people can negatively affect bone health and lead to problems such as hip fractures.
- Those Who Do Not Get Enough Sun Exposure: The risk of vitamin D deficiency is higher in patients who do not prefer to go out much or cannot go out for certain reasons. Clothing that prevents skin cells from receiving enough sunlight is also a risk for deficiency.
- Those with Dark Skin Color: The pigment that gives the skin its color is called melanin. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin cells. As the amount of melanin in the cells increases, the cells’ capacity to produce vitamin D decreases. Therefore, people with darker skin are more likely to be deficient.
- Those with Intestinal Diseases: In diseases that affect digestive functions such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease; Problems with vitamin D absorption may occur.
- Breastfed Babies: Breast milk does not contain enough vitamin D to meet the baby’s needs. For this reason, it may be beneficial for babies to take vitamin D supplements and expose them to the sun under appropriate conditions in order to protect them from deficiency, with the knowledge and recommendation of your pediatrician.
- Obese People: In people with obesity problems, the fat tissue in the body binds vitamin D to itself and prevents it from passing into the blood. Low levels of vitamin D in the blood cause deficiency symptoms.
- Those who use drugs that affect vitamin D metabolism: Drugs such as some cholesterol drugs, antiepileptics, agents used in the treatment of AIDS, antifungal drugs and glucocorticoids; It may disrupt vitamin D metabolism. Therefore, vitamin D deficiency may occur in people using these medications.
Since the need for vitamin D increases in pregnant or breastfeeding women, these people should be careful about deficiency.
How to Diagnose Vitamin D Deficiency?
A blood test is performed to diagnose vitamin D deficiency. In the laboratory, the serum hydroxy-25 vitamin D level in the blood is measured. If this measured value is below 12 ng/ml, it is considered vitamin D deficiency. In healthy people, the vitamin D level should be above 20 ng/ml.
What are the symptoms that occur with vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency can cause different disorders and problems in the body. Conditions that may occur as a result of vitamin D deficiency:
Rickets is a disorder seen in children. In this disorder, there is a problem in the mineralization of the cartilage tissue that enables bone growth, that is, in its hardening and turning into bone. Symptoms that may be seen in children with rickets disease:
- Pain and tenderness in the bones of the arms, legs, spine and pelvis
- growth arrest, short stature
- muscle cramps
- Tooth deformities such as hole in the gum layer, late teething, abscess
- Bone deformities such as curved spine, protruding sternum, crooked leg (O leg) can be counted.
Osteomalacia, just like rickets, is a disease in which bone mineralization disorder occurs. Osteomalacia, an adult disease, causes pain throughout the body, especially in the hip area.
Vitamin D plays a regulatory role in immune system functions. Vitamin D deficiency may increase the severity of viral infections. In addition, its deficiency may cause recurrent infections.
As with other vitamin and mineral deficiencies, hair loss may occur in vitamin D deficiency.
How is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated?
If vitamin D deficiency is not very severe, vitamin supplements and increasing dietary vitamin D intake will be sufficient for treatment. For this purpose, foods rich in vitamin D such as liver meat, eggs, milk and dairy products can be consumed unless stated otherwise by your physician.
The amount of vitamin D required daily varies depending on age. Daily recommended vitamin D intake
- 400 IU for babies aged 0-1
- 600 IU for children and adults aged 1-70
- 800 IU for people over 70 years of age and breastfeeding women
IU is the abbreviation of “International Unit”. To give an example for better understanding, 44 IU of vitamin D is obtained when one egg is consumed.
When vitamin D deficiency is diagnosed in children, medical treatment must be started. Since children are growing up, they may be more harmed by the deficiency. Vitamin D ampoules are generally used in treatment. The doctor determines how many ampoules the child will use and how many drops of the ampoule he should use per day.
Our country’s Ministry of Health carries out free vitamin D support programs to prevent vitamin D deficiency in babies and pregnant women.
Vitamin D deficiency can cause serious problems. It is beneficial for both children and adults to have their vitamin D levels checked at regular intervals in terms of early detection of this condition.