7 Signs & Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency & Treatment

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in some foods naturally or added to other foods to be present as vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D has hormonal and vitamin properties that are essential for homeostasis and normal bone formation. Vitamin D comes in two forms including ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Cholecalciferol is a natural form of vitamin D, which is synthesized in the skin from cholesterol within the body or food when exposed to sunlight [1]. 

Vitamin D’s main biological function is to maintain normal blood calcium and phosphorus levels. Vitamin D helps absorbing calcium, building and maintain strong bones. More importantly, it controls the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and promotes normal immune function. Getting enough vitamin D is important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth [2].

Vitamin D helps in regulating certain proteins that regulate genes and other cell functions including cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis that are essential functions of the blood cells [2]. 

 The American journal of clinical nutrition also shown that adequate intake of fat-soluble vitamins can prevent and reduce a person’s risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer, and many autoimmune diseases [1]. Researchers reported that it stimulates the body’s immune cells to produce antibodies, so vitamin D promotes the overall increase in immunity. Therefore, it helps in improving resistance to certain diseases due to its functional role in the immune system strengthening [3].

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency 

  1. Frequent Sickness

Most people who get sick frequently, especially with a cold or flu are diagnosed with low vitamin D levels as it can be a contributing factor in a compromised immune system. Several observational studies have shown a link between Vitamin Dd deficiency and respiratory infections such as colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia [3].

  1. Arthritis and Muscle Pain

Deficiency of vitamin D levels is significantly found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack the joints. The researchers proved that low vitamin D levels were a complication of RA leading towards corticosteroids in RA patients due to the lower levels of vitamin D that resist calcium absorption in the blood and weakened bones [4]. 

  1. Fatigue

Vitamin D deficiency is common and is associated with fatigue and other non-specific symptoms such as headache, musculoskeletal pain, weakness, depression, and cognitive impairment. Low vitamin D can cause bone abnormalities such as osteomalacia, osteopenia, osteoporosis, and impair muscle strength due to which people experience extreme fatigue. Fatigue can be a symptom of low vitamin D levels and its effect on reducing peak skeletal muscle activity through vitamin D receptors [3].

  1. Impaired Wound Healing

Vitamin D is needed to regulate cells in various tissues, including keratinocytes of the epidermis. This is done by modifying growth factors and cytokines that result in effective and rapid wound healing. Therefore, Vitamin D can affect wound healing by increasing the production of skin growth factors, keratinocytes, cytokines, and platelets. And several studies have found that vitamin C deficiency is associated with an increased risk of peptic ulcer bleeding due to the compromised natural wound healing process at the peptic site [5]. 

  1. Osteopenia and Osteoporosis

If the vitamin D deficiency is not corrected, calcium will still be lost from the bones due to which children can get rickets, and adults can develop osteopenia and osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus from the food, so nutrition is very important for people with osteoporosis. Studies have shown that calcium and vitamin D together strengthens the bones and it also reduces the risk of other diseases that make bones weak [5].

  1. Depression 

A study at Isr Med Association observed that study participants with depression also had low levels of vitamin D. The same analysis found that, statistically, people with low levels of vitamin D had an increased risk of depression. This is because vitamin D is important for healthy brain function and inadequate levels of nutrients can lead to depression and other mental illnesses also the vitamin D receptors are located in the same brain regions that are involved in depression [3].

  1. Cancer 

There is a strong correlation between vitamin D intake and cancer risk. in case of It has also been shown a low intake of vitamin D. It has been found that people with prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and multiple myeloma also have a vitamin D deficiency [4].

Treatment of Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Laboratory testing is necessary to investigate the accurate level of Vitamin D in a body because it helps the physician to prescribe Vitamin D alternatives or supplements. Although the accurate range of sufficient Vitamin D is not yet known as too high Vitamin D levels can also be dangerous and be carcinogenic [6].
  • The most effective treatment intervention for Vitamin D deficiency is to intake its supplements regularly after its diagnosis. There are various supplements available in the market that can be used as intramuscular, oral tablets, or syrups [6].
  • Dosage of Vitamin D supplements is also much important because a mild deficiency can be treated through sunlight, a natural vitamin D source, but severe Vitamin D deficiency can be treated through an accurate or optimal dose of its supplements [7]. 
  • The other forms of Vitamin D include sunlight, diet, and food. It is also important to understand that a healthy body requires 13 vitamins, 16 minerals, 50+ hormones, and 40+ neurotransmitters and for healthy absorption and functioning of vitamin D, the presence or availability of all these vitamins, minerals, hormones, and neurotransmitters is essential [7]. 

Therefore, to rule out suspected vitamin D deficiency, go through Ask ASTR for medical guidance or further support.

References 

  1. Macdonald HM, Wood AD, Tang JC, Fraser WD. Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in increasing serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2012 Nov 1;96(5):1152-3. 
  2. Kulda V. Vitamin D metabolism. Vnitrni lekarstvi. 2012 May 1;58(5):400-4.
  3. Bizzaro G, Antico A, Fortunato A, Bizzaro N. Vitamin D and autoimmune diseases: is vitamin D receptor (VDR) polymorphism the culprit. Isr Med Assoc J. 2017 Jul 1;19(7):438-43.
  4. Holick MF. The vitamin D deficiency pandemic: Approaches for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. 2017 Jun;18(2):153-65.
  5. Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Gordon CM, Hanley DA, Heaney RP, Murad MH, Weaver CM. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. The Journal of clinical endocrinology & metabolism. 2011 Jul 1;96(7):1911-30.
  6. Kennel KA, Drake MT, Hurley DL. Vitamin D deficiency in adults: when to test and how to treat. Inmayo clinic proceedings 2010 Aug 1 (Vol. 85, No. 8, pp. 752-758). Elsevier.
  7. Zhang Y, Fang F, Tang J, Jia L, Feng Y, Xu P, Faramand A. Association between vitamin D supplementation and mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis. Bmj. 2019 Aug 12;366.