What is Vitamin D Deficiency?

What is Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin d deficiency refers to the state of lacking enough vitamin D in the body. This deficiency results from lack of enough exposure to sunlight, lacking to take supplements and the body needing more than average vitamin D, such as in cases of obesity and pregnancy. The deficiency is more prone to people with darker skin, pregnant women, overweight people, those spending a lot of time indoors, and infants being breastfed (“Vitamin D Council”) Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and protecting against various health problems (Jacobsen).

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms

The symptoms of vitamin d deficiency may differ from person to person, and also in regard to the extent of deficiency. One of the symptoms is pain in the bones. This leads to weakness which makes it difficult to move around. Tiredness and general aches may also be experienced (“Vitamin D Council”). Depression and muscle pain are also symptoms of vitamin d deficiency (vinh quốc Lương and Nguyễn 89).

Vitamin D Deficiency Causes

Vitamin d deficiency can occur as a result of many reasons. Limited exposure to sunlight leads to vitamin d deficiency. This may result from being homebound, covering your full body, having an occupation inhibiting exposure to sun and living in northern attitudes. Vitamin d deficiency is also caused by lack to consume the right levels of vitamin d over time. This results from being a strict vegetarian, as most sources of vitamin d are animal-based such as fish and beef liver. Having a dark skin is also a cause of vitamin d deficiency. The melanin pigment in dark skins hinders the skin’s effectiveness in making vitamin d from sunlight exposure (Jacobsen). Research shows that age also causes vitamin d deficiency. Even when regularly exposed to sunlight, the skin of old adults produces less vitamin D compared to young adults. Being obese also causes vitamin d deficiency as vitamin D is less bio -available to such people therefore making low-level vitamin D to be highly prevalent in them. Having digestive diseases such as celiac disease and Crohn disease also causes vitamin d deficiency. This is because such disease inhibits the ability of the body to absorb vitamin d from food sources.

Normal Vitamin D Levels

The accurate method of measuring Vitamin D is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. The vitamin d levels are measured as nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). A level between 20 and 50ng/ml is usually recommended, although some experts consider the level between 30 and 50ng/ml as the adequate for healthy people. A level that is less than 12 ng/ml points out vitamin D deficiency (Starkebaum)

Vitamin D Benefits

Vitamin D plays a very substantial role in the body and is associated with many benefits. Vitamin D facilitates maintenance of phosphorous levels and regulation of calcium, which helps in maintaining healthy bones. Children given high amounts of vitamin d supplements usually have a reduced risk of flu. Vitamin d also enhances the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids hence enabling it be used as a therapy for steroid-resistant asthma. Another benefit of vitamin d is that absorbs calcium in the intestines, hence preventing it from being excreted through kidneys. Vitamin d also reduces cancer progression by regulating the growth of new blood vessels in cancerous tissues. Additionally, vitamin d is beneficial in that helps protect various diseases such as type 1 diabetes. Vitamin d also supports lung functioning. (Ware and Webberley)

Vitamin D Dosage

To determine the dosage of vitamin d, it can be measured in two ways. First, is it can be measured in micrograms (mcg), and secondly in International Units (IU). During conversion, 1mcg of vitamin D is equal to 40 IU of vitamin D. According to the US Institutes of Medicine (IOM), the dosage of vitamin d should be:

  • Infants 0-12 months – 400 IU (10 mcg)
  • Children 1-18 years – 600 IU (15 mcg)
  • Adults to age 70 – 600 IU (15 mcg)
  • Adults over 70 – 800 IU (20 mcg)
  • Pregnant or lactating women – 600 IU (15 mcg)

Sources of Vitamin D

    The most common and freely available source of vitamin D is the sun. The sun is also considered as the most efficient source of vitamin d. Foods are also sources of vitamin D. This list shows the 5 richest food sources of vitamin d and their levels.

  • Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon: 1,360 IU
  • Herring, fresh, raw, 4 ounces: 1,056 IU
  • Swordfish, cooked, 4 ounces: 941 IU
  • Raw maltase mushrooms, 1 cup: 786 IU
  • Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 4 ounces: 596 IU (Ware and Webberley)

Vitamin D Deficiency Treatment

The standard vitamin D deficiency treatment is supplementation. Eating the right foods may take long to recover from the deficiency as the level of vitamin d is usually very low in foods. Therefore, supplementation, especially with vitamin D3 should be considered. (vinh quốc Lương and Nguyễn 89). Regular exposure to sunlight can also serve as a treatment. Foods with high levels of vitamin d should be consumed constantly.



“Vitamin D Council”. Vitamindcouncil.org. N.p., 2013. Web. 28 May 2016.

Jacobsen, Maryann Tomovich. “Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, And Health Risks”. WebMD. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 May 2016.

Starkebaum, Gordon A. “25-Hydroxy Vitamin D Test: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia”.Nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 May 2016.

Vitamin D In Obesity: Possible Genetic And Cell Signaling Mechanisms”. Nutrition Journal 12.1 (2013): 89. Web. 28 May 2016.

Ware, Megan and Helen Webberley. “Vitamin D: Health Benefits, Facts And Research”.Medical News Today. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 May 2016.


Send Us Your Comments/Questions

Skip to toolbar