Vitamin D plays a vital role in several important functions of the body. In particular, along with calcium, it helps build and maintain healthy and strong bones in your body. It may also have anticancer effects via its regulation of the immune system. It occurs in diet in two forms: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Foods rich in vitamin D are cod liver oil, fatty fish, eggs, and vitamin D-fortified cereal and milk. Exposure to sunlight is needed for the skin to make the usable form of vitamin D.
Its recommended dietary allowance varies with age, sex, and pregnancy or breastfeeding status. Infants need 400 IU (international units)/day, and children need 600 IU/day. Adults below the age of 70 need 600 IU/day and those above 70 years need 800 IU/day. Pregnant or breastfeeding women need 600 IU/day. Vitamin D toxicity occurs in adults at intakes greater than 4000 IU/day and at slightly lower levels in children.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
Bone Softening And Decreased Bone Density
Bones will feel soft and tender. This is because vitamin D is necessary for the formation and maintenance of strong bones, and deficiency of vitamin D makes them weak. The associated constellation of symptoms is called rickets in children, and osteomalacia in adults.
Since calcium is absorbed less from the gastrointestinal tract and lost more from the bones, the mineral density of bones is decreased, making them more porous (osteoporosis).
Because the bones are not very strong in vitamin D deficiency due to the reasons mentioned above, you may be subject to frequent falls if your vitamin D levels are low. Studies show that taking 700-1000 IU/day of vitamin D supplement considerably reduces the risk of falling. In elderly people, maintaining normal levels of vitamin D reduces the risk of falling by as much as 25%.
Vitamin D helps the body to absorb and use calcium and thus build strong bones. Consequently, in vitamin D deficiency enough calcium is not supplied to the bones, making them weak. There is also increased loss of calcium from the bones. Hence, in vitamin D deficiency there may be frequent fractures at the slightest trauma. If osteoporosis is marked, fractures can occur even without trauma (pathological fractures).
Since the long bones are soft, weak, and deformed in vitamin D deficiency, children will develop bow legs. This is due to the bending and bowing of the long bones under their weight. Older children could develop knock-knees (reduced gap between knees so that they are almost touching). Pelvis may be deformed. Spine could be deformed (kyphoscoliosis or lumbar lordosis).
Forehead could be protuberant or unusually pronounced (skull bossing). Brow ridge is enlarged. Skull bossing could also occur in other conditions such as when there is increased growth hormone (acromegaly). Skull bones are soft and thin (craniotabes). There can be widening of wrists. The junction between ribs and breastbone could be beaded (rachitic rosary).
Muscle Spasms And Pain
Calcium is very essential for the functioning of muscles. Since calcium level is low in vitamin D deficiency, muscles all over the body can twitch involuntarily and on occasion go into uncontrollable spasms (tetany). However, tetany occurs only when the calcium deficiency is severe and hence may not occur in mild vitamin D deficiency cases. There can also be muscle pain and tenderness.
Caution: Please use Home Remedies after Proper Research and Guidance. You accept that you are following any advice at your own risk and will properly research or consult healthcare professional.