What Is Vitamin D Deficiency?

What Is Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be consumed through food and as a dietary supplement. As an essential vitamin, Vitamin D plays a key role in promoting overall bodily function, bone health, immune system health, and cellular function. A lack of vitamin D in a diet can seriously impact health, leading to fatigue, bone pain, and muscle weakness. In the following article, we discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments of vitamin D deficiency. 

About Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency occurs when one does not receive enough vitamin D, either through natural sunlight exposure or dietary restrictions. Most adults receive at least 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D through their diet and normal activity. However, as  . In part, this is because it is difficult to get ample vitamin D through dietary means alone. Popular foods high in vitamin D, such as salmon and swordfish, 

What Is Vitamin D? 

Vitamin D, also referred to as calciferol, is an essential, fat-soluble vitamin that is present in many foods and also available as a dietary supplement. It is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin because its production can be triggered by ultraviolet rays. Vitamin D is produced in the body when ultraviolet rays from the sun trigger a process known as vitamin D synthesis. In vitamin D synthesis, the vitamin first enters the body through the skin before it is processed in the liver and kidneys.

Recommended Amount Of Vitamin D

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is designed to support bone, immune system, and skin health. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 600 international units (IU) daily. This amount increases to 8000 IU for adults older than 65. Those over the age of 65 need more vitamin D to maintain bone health and prevent damage to bones and muscle if they fall. 

What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency? 

Vitamin D deficiency is most often caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight and the outdoors. There are, however, multiple immune system and digestive system disorders that can also prevent the body from properly absorbing vitamin D. Sometimes, the liver and kidneys may be unable to take vitamin D from food and properly spread it around the body. Taking steroid medications or stimulant laxatives has also been shown to reduce vitamin D and calcium uptake. The following are five of the most common contributors to a lack of vitamin D.

Dark Skin

Those with darker skin may have more melanin in their skin cells. The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to absorb sunlight and convert it into vitamin D. As some people age, their skin becomes darker as a result of consistent sun exposure over many years. This darkening of the skin is a common contributing factor to vitamin D deficiency in those over the age of 65. 

Improper Kidney Function

Healthy kidneys have abundant amounts of vitamin D receptors, which work to convert sunlight into vitamin D for the body. As people age, their kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D from sunlight and food. Chronic kidney disease can also severely impact vitamin D uptake and conversion. 


Vitamin D is common in those with obesity with some studies reporting a correlation rate as high as 90%. Since vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, people with higher fat content may have vitamin D stuck in their fat cells, unable to reach other parts of the body. As a result, those with higher body fat typically require more vitamin D to maintain overall cell health. 

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin D deficiency can manifest itself suddenly or take years to develop. The most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, mood change, weakness, and aching. Given that vitamin D plays an essential part in maintaining bone structure and health, certain symptoms of bone or cartilage weakness can also be signs of vitamin D deficiency. 

How To Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency

The most effective way to prevent vitamin D deficiency is to spend more time outside and eat foods high in vitamin D content. If you think you might be at risk for vitamin D deficiency, you can seek the advice of a medical professional who will run tests to identify your vitamin D levels. Fortunately, vitamin D is a 

Eat High Vitamin D Foods 

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 800 IU. However, if you do not get enough vitamin D from the sun, health professionals recommend you intake at least 1000 IU of vitamin D from food and drink. A few popular foods that are high in vitamin D include the following:

  • Salmon
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg yolks 

Take Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin D supplements are available in a variety of forms including tablets, liquid solutions, and powder. Before deciding on a vitamin D supplement, it is advisable to have your vitamin D levels medically tested to determine how much of the vitamin you need. Additionally, certain vitamin D supplements have different ingredients, dosage, and quality than others. 

What Is Vitamin D Deficiency?: Summary 

Vitamin D deficiency occurs when one does not receive enough vitamin D, either through natural sunlight exposure or dietary restrictions. It is a surprisingly common condition estimated to affect as many as 40% of adults in the United States.

Vitamin D deficiency can be prevented by taking vitamin D supplements, of which there exist many popular varieties. One can also increase their vitamin D intake by eating more salmon, beef liver, cheese, or mushrooms. 

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