The lack of vitamin D is very common but initially does not have any characteristic symptoms. Normally, there is a suspicion of lack of vitamin D when this deficiency is very high, after a prolonged period of lack of vitamin D, which is when signs and symptoms may appear, such as:
- Growth retardation in children;
- Arching the legs in the child;
- Enlargement of the extremities of the leg and arm bones;
- Delay in the birth of baby teeth and cavities from very early;
- Osteomalacia or osteoporosis in adults;
- Weakness in the bones, which makes them easier to break, especially the bones of the spine, hips and legs;
- Muscle pain;
- Feeling of fatigue, weakness and malaise;
- Bone pain;
- Muscle spasms.
The situations that favor the lack of vitamin D are the lack of sun exposure in a healthy and adequate way, greater pigmentation of the skin, age over 50 years, little intake of foods rich in vitamin D and living in cold places, where the skin rarely is exposed to the sun.
Light-skinned people need about 20 minutes of sun exposure a day, while darker-skinned people need at least 1 hour of direct sun exposure, without sunscreen in the early morning or late afternoon.
How to confirm the lack of vitamin D
The doctor may suspect that the person may be deficient in vitamin D when he observes that he is not properly exposed to the sun, always uses sunscreen and does not consume foods rich in vitamin D. In the elderly, vitamin deficiency may be suspected D in case of osteopenia or osteoporosis.
The diagnosis is made through a blood test called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and the reference values are:
- Severe deficiency: less than 20 ng / ml;
- Mild deficiency: between 21 and 29 ng / ml;
- Adequate value: from 30 ng / ml.
This test can be ordered by the general practitioner or pediatrician, who can assess whether there is a need to take a vitamin D supplement. Find out how the vitamin D test is done.
When to take vitamin D supplement
The doctor may recommend taking vitamin D2 and D3 when the person lives in a place where there is little sun exposure and where foods rich in vitamin D are not very accessible to the general population. In addition, it can be indicated to supplement pregnant women and newborn babies up to 1 year of age, and always in case of confirmation of vitamin D deficiency.
Supplementation in case of deficiency should be done for 1 or 2 months, and after that period the doctor may request a new blood test to assess whether it is necessary to continue taking the supplement for longer, because it is dangerous to take too much vitamin D , which can greatly increase calcium levels in the blood, which also favors bone breakdown.
Main causes of lack of vitamin D
In addition to the low consumption of foods containing vitamin D, the lack of adequate sun exposure, due to the excessive use of sunscreen, brown, mulatto or black skin, the lack of vitamin D may be related to some situations, such as:
- Chronic renal failure;
- Celiac disease;
- Crohn’s disease;
- Short bowel syndrome;
- Cystic fibrosis;
- Cardiac insufficiency;
- Gall stones.
Thus, in the presence of these diseases, medical follow-up should be carried out to check vitamin D levels in the body through a specific blood test and, if necessary, to take vitamin D supplements.
Important sources of vitamin D
Vitamin D can be obtained from food by consuming foods such as salmon, oysters, eggs and sardines, or through the body’s internal production, which depends on the sun’s rays on the skin to be activated.
People with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and therefore should increase their exposure to the sun or take vitamin D supplements according to medical advice.
Check out more examples of foods rich in vitamin D in the following video:
Consequences of lack of vitamin D
The lack of vitamin D increases the chances of having serious diseases that affect the bones such as rickets and osteoporosis, but it can also increase the risk of developing other diseases such as:
- Arterial hypertension;
- Rheumatoid arthritis and
- Multiple sclerosis.
Higher risk of obesity
Higher risk of high blood pressure
Sun exposure is important to prevent vitamin D deficiencies because only about 20% of this vitamin’s daily needs are met by diet. Adults and children with fair skin need about 20 minutes of sun exposure daily to produce this vitamin, while black people need about 1 hour of sun exposure. More details How to sunbathe safely to produce Vitamin D .