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Low Vitamin D
By
Lakshmi Jaisimha

 

Low Vitamin D is something you never want to wish for. The nutrient is a crucial component, and we need to make sure our body has enough of it. If it doesn't, the deficiency may give birth to some diseases you would want to avoid.


A fat-soluble nutrient, Vitamin D plays an essential role in physiological functions. It is this nutrient that is responsible for increasing the intestinal absorption of vital nutrients like magnesium and phosphate. Plus, it works as an immune system regulator too.


You also require Vitamin D to manage the levels of phosphate and calcium in the body. These nutrients assist your body in keeping the teeth, bones and muscles healthy, which is the reason why their regulation is so important.

 

What Are the Symptoms of Low Vitamin D?


How do you know if you have low Vitamin D levels in your body? Thankfully, our body gives some signs related to it which you can identify. These are:

  • Hair Loss
  • Acid reflux
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Tiredness
  • Back pain 
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Excessive sweat


Apart from these signs and symptoms of low Vitamin D levels, you might notice an effect on bones and respiratory systems as well. In fact, a lack of Vitamin D is one of the primary causes of diseases like asthma, osteoporosis, rickets etc.


Low Vitamin D Causes


Of the many reasons for low Vitamin D levels, the most common one is limited exposure to sunlight. Due to the degrading lifestyle these days, people are mostly found indoors sitting on their desks working or playing games. This means your body gets less opportunity overall to get the goodness of Vitamin D from the sun.

 

  • Weight loss surgeries: Surgeries to reduce the size of your stomach or affect the size of your small intestines take a toll on the way your body absorbs certain vitamins and minerals. When it comes to Vitamin D, the case is similar, and the person with the surgery requires taking supplements all through life.
     
  • Dark skin: Your body can produce some Vitamin D on its own after being exposed in the sun. However, if you have excessive amounts of melanin on your body, which makes the skin darker - you might experience less Vitamin D production.
     
  • Diet with less Vitamin D: A vegan diet or a diet full of junk food may not include healthy animal-based natural sources of Vitamin D. These include egg yolk, fish or fish oils, fortified milk, beef liver etc.
     
  • Liver and kidney diseases: If you have low Vitamin D levels, there's a chance that your kidneys or liver isn’t working effectively. You might have liver or kidney diseases, or the effect might be due to advancing age. 


Whatever the case, the damaged kidney or liver lacks a necessary enzyme which helps turn Vitamin D into its active form. It is in the active form that it is used by the body.


Apart from these, Obesity, Cystic fibrosis, Crohn's disease, and Celiac disease or even too much use of sunscreen are some low Vitamin D causes.


Other risk factors of low Vitamin D

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Breastfeeding women with low Vitamin D diets
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Sedentary indoor lifestyle
  • Advancing age


The Terrible Health Conditions - What Happens When Vitamin D Is Low

Rickets

The softening and weakening of bones in children is what's known by the term rickets. It usually happens due to a prolonged deficiency of the nutrient. You see, Vitamin D is a must to maintain the levels of calcium and magnesium in the body. They play a significant role in keeping your bones strong.


Symptoms:

  • Weakness in muscles 
  • Delayed growth
  • Pain in bones
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Not being able to sleep

 

Treatment:

  • Add Vitamin D rich food to your diet  
  • Supplements with intravenous calcium gluconate.
  • Surgery to correct the knock-knee deformities of the legs.


Prevention:

  • Eat a balanced diet 
  • Get enough sunlight during the times around sunrise and sunset


Osteoporosis

It is a condition in which the body loses too much bone, and the bones become weak and brittle. The body can’t make enough bone or nourish the ones there are because of deficiency in Vitamin D.

 

Symptoms: 

  • Bone fracture due to the disease
  • Reduction in height
  • Back pain
  • Bad posture
  • Weak grip

 

Treatment:

  • Medications that stimulate bone growth. For example Boniva, Actonel, Reclast and Fosamax.
  • Hormone therapy
  • Diet rich in Calcium and Vitamin D
  • Resistance training including exercises like squats and push-ups

 

Prevention:

  • Quit Smoking
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Limit intake of caffeine
  • Step outdoors in the sun every once in a while

 

Asthma/ Wheezing

The condition causes difficulty in breathing because your airways become narrow, they swell and make extra mucus which makes it even more difficult for air to reach your lungs.
 

Symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
     

Treatment:

  • Vitamin D supplements
  • Bronchodilators
  • Breathing exercises
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Anticholinergics
     

Prevention:

  • Stay away from anything that causes allergy like chemicals, perfumes etc.
  • Quit smoking
  • Get anti-allergy vaccinations
     

Type 1 Diabetes

Can low Vitamin D cause diabetes? Yes! It can lead to type 1 diabetes.


This type refers to the situation where your body doesn’t produce enough insulin - the hormone responsible for the food to turn to glucose, which is then used to nourish the cells. 

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Urinating often
  • Blurry vision
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling hungry and thirsty

 

Treatment:

  • Take insulin as recommended by the doctor.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Exercise
  • Do Pranayama

 

Prevention:

  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Note your blood sugar frequently and monitor it
  • Quit smoking and alcohol

 

Schizophrenia

It’s a mental health condition that affects how you think, act and talk. While the exact cause of Schizophrenia is unknown, it is believed to be a combination of psychological, physical, genetic and environmental factors. And of course, Vitamin D is a factor too.

 

Symptoms:

  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Lack of motivation
  • Disorganised thinking
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Anxiety


Treatment:

  • Antipsychotic and anti-tremor medications
  • Vitamin D supplements
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Group psychotherapy
  • Family and behaviour therapy
     

Prevention:

  • Don't use drugs
  • Quit the use of alcohol
  • Try to make and maintain friendships
  • Engage in fun activities

 

Coronary Heart Disease

A disease that happens due to the narrowing arteries, coronary heart disease is one of the most common types of heart diseases. It happens because of the buildup of cholesterol on the artery walls. Lack of Vitamin D worsens this because it is an agent that can help relieve the fat deposits.
 

Symptoms:

  • Cold sweat
  • A feeling of light-headedness.
  • Indigestion, vomiting or nausea 
  • Difficulty breathing due to shortness of breath, especially after some activity.
  • Pain in the neck


Treatment:

  • Aspirin
  • Beta-blockers
  • Nitroglycerin patches, sprays, or tablets
  • Coronary bypass surgery


Prevention:

  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Make sure your diet has less salt, sugar & saturated fats.

 

Hair Loss

Permanently or temporarily, you can lose the hair on your head as you age. But a huge factor is the lack of Vitamin D. It is necessary for hair growth as it stimulates new and old hair follicles.


Symptoms:

  • Thinning of hair
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Itchy scalp
  • Redness and swelling
     

Treatment:

  • Exposure to the sun
  • Medication like Rogaine, Propecia, and Spironolactone 
  • Hair transplant surgery
  • Laser therapy
     

Prevention:

  • Include Vitamin D in diet
  • Control liver and kidney problems
  • Have a nourishing diet

 

Weight Gain

Vitamin D is fat-soluble. It dissolves the fatty acids and strengthens the immune system to fight away toxins. Without Vitamin D, the fatty acids and toxins may result in weight gain.
 

Symptoms:

  • Stress
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Indigestion
     

Treatment:

  • Exercise and move more generally
  • Drink more water
  • Have Vitamin D supplements
  • Eat a healthier diet
  • Avoid sugar


Prevention:

  • Maintain a proper and balanced diet
  • Get sufficient sunlight regularly 
  • Work out consistently

 

How Much Vitamin D Is Needed by Our Body?

People often ask if Vitamin D is low how much should I take in the form of supplements. The best person to answer this question for you is your doctor.
 

However, here’s a list of the recommended amounts, in international units (IU). It is based on age as the amount of Vitamin D you need each day depends on your age. 

 

  • Babies of zero to twelve months: 400
  • Children of one to thirteen years: 600
  • Teens of fourteen to eighteen years: 600
  • Adults of nineteen to seventy years: 600 
  • Adults of seventy one years & older: 800 
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: 600 


How to Treat Low Vitamin D Levels?

  1. Spend time in the morning and evening sunlight.
  2. Eat fish varieties such as Tuna, Salmon, and Shrimp.
  3. Consume fortified foods such as Tofu, Cow’s milk, Orange Juice, and Yogurt.
  4. Add more mushrooms to your diet.
  5. Start your day with egg yolks. 
  6. Include gulping down Vitamin D supplements in your daily routine.

     

Frequently Asked Questions About Low Vitamin D Levels in the Body.

 

Q 1: What are the effects of low Vitamin D in pregnancy on babies?

Ans. Low Vitamin D levels in the pregnant woman can lead to complications like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, low birth weight of the baby, and premature birth.

 

Q 2: Can low levels of Vitamin D cause depression?

Ans. While it can’t cause depression directly low Vitamin D levels can be a risk factor for depression. Their connection has been proved in some studies. Notice how you feel happier on the days you have been exposed moderately to the sun and the days where you stay indoors all through the day.

 

Q 3: Low Vitamin D and hyperthyroidism - what is the connection?

Ans. A study done in 2017 proved that Vitamin D has a positive effect on patients with the autoimmune disease called graves disease. The vitamin is known to treat hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) in these patients.

 

Q 4: How are low Vitamin D and acid reflux related?

Ans. A 2016 study noted that an increase in levels of vitamin helps prevent gastric issues like acid reflux. These issues are often noted as symptoms of low Vitamin D.

 

Q 5: Can low Vitamin D cause cramps?

Ans. Yes, that’s because the Vitamin D leads to less absorption of calcium and magnesium which are responsible for keeping muscles healthy and thus away from cramps. So, yes, low Vitamin D can trigger muscle cramps.

 

Q 6: Does low Vitamin D cause fatigue?

Ans. Yes. Doctors say that a Vitamin D blood level below 20 ng/ml is considered less. When a study was done on women with levels above and below this point, those above the mark of 20 ng/ml had more energy and those with low Vitamin D were more tired and fatigued.

 

Q 7: Can low Vitamin D cause fever?

Ans. Yes, some studies suggest that is possible. However, there is not enough data on it.

 

Q 8: Can Vitamin D deficiency cause low platelet count

Ans. Yes, it can.

 

Summing Up

You see, low Vitamin D has many risk factors associated with it. It can lead to troublesome diseases like rickets, type 1 diabetes, coronary heart disease, osteoporosis etc. these aren’t easy to handle especially for elder people because their advancing age makes the body weaker. This means even if there is enough Vitamin D in the body, it might not activate it, or may not even absorb the nutrient in the first place to use. 


Medications, their side effects and lifestyle changes as one ages, can also become a primary factor for low Vitamin D levels and the diseases that follow next.


That’s why you need a support system to get your elders through this phase of life if they suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. 


Emoha’s empower plan works efficiently towards this. We are available in India to help elders. We do this by maintaining their health records, reminding them to take medication on time, calling them regularly to see if they are doing fine.


Additionally, we also offer services of a professional carer or nurse in case any elder needs that. After all, the diseases that happen due to low Vitamin D can make their life go upside down, which may be difficult for elders or their families to take care of.


Want to know more about these and the other services we offer? Call us at the toll-free number 1800-123-44-5555 to check out how we work towards improving the lives of elders.
 

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