Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine
In fact, it’s the amount and powerful nature of our sunshine that means we tend to shun the sun, work indoors and use high factor (30+) sun protection, all of which serve to leave some of us deficient. Deficiencies can also arise in people suffering from milk allergies, or those adhering to a strict vegan diet. There are other underlying causes too.
Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for the maintenance of strong bones, through its role in helping the body use calcium from our diet. Historically, vitamin D deficiency was associated with rickets, a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. However, research is also revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, by far the world’s greatest health-related cause of death.
Putting diseases aside for a moment, vitamin D is also important in the normal functioning of the body too. It plays an important role in regulating more than 200 genes throughout the body, keeps abnormal cells from multiplying in breast and colon tissues, helps regulate blood pressure in the kidney, and helps in the regulation blood sugar levels too.
Ironically, if you engage in vigorous sport, you may want to develop a closer interest in vitamin D. Firstly,
Research also suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.
- Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Fatigue, exercise intolerance & skeletal injuries
- Cognitive impairment in older adults
- Severe asthma in children
- Some forms of cancer
- Immune system related issues
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Given its role in healthy bone structure, bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. For many people though, the symptoms are more subtle.
- Becoming sick or picking up infections more often
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Back pain
- Other bone pain and loss
- Slower wound healing
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
If you suffer from any of these, it can be worth having vitamin D levels tested to see if you are deficient.
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can occur for a number of reasons, with the main ones being listed below.
Insufficient Consumption of Vitamin D Containing Foods
This is more likely if you follow a strict vegan diet, because many of the natural sources of vitamin D are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, milk, and things like beef liver.
Insufficient Exposure to Sunlight
The body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight and so you may be at risk of deficiency if you work mostly indoors, cover up consistently when out and use high factor suncreams to protect against sun damage. Given our consciousness about the risks of too much sun, in Cayman we can be sufficiently good at avoiding it that we run a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.
The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. This produces a higher incidence of deficiency in naturally dark populations (well, this includes us here in Cayman, of course), as well as increasing the risk in people who darken e.g. over time through ageing.
As people age, their kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, thus increasing their risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Excess Alcohol Consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can contribute to vitamin D deficiency. In Cayman, across the population, we tend towards higher than average alcohol consumption and this may help explain why we also appear to have a higher than average amount of vitamin D deficiency, despite our sunny climate.
Poor Absorbtion of Vitamin D in the Digestive Tract
Certain medical problems, including Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, can affect your intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D adequately from the food you eat.
Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into the circulation. Consequently, the more fat cells we might have, the higher our risk of vitamin D deficiency. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D.
Tests for Vitamin D Deficiency
The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is a specific blood test called the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. Levels of 25 ng/mL to 80 ng/mL are considered optimal for healthy people and, although there remains some debate, a level of less than 30 ng/mL indicates vitamin D insufficiency and less than 20 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.
If you have
This is a test we can organise here at Integra, and if you want us to ascertain your insurance cover beforehand, simply complete the enquiry form. In any event, if you book a consultation to discuss
Dr Francisco Martinez
MD FAMILY & COMMUNITY MEDICINE
- (345) 745 7450
Book an Appointment
Please simply work through the steps onscreen. If you believe you have symtoms of vitamin D defiency, please select ‘New Problem’ and if you simply want to get your levels checked without the presence of symptoms, please select ‘Adult Wellness’. Please note that even if you have previously seen Dr Martinez, if this is your first visit to Integra, you need to tick ‘no’ with respect to Existing Patient. If you are using a smartphone, it helps to turn your screen sideways (landscape). Thank you.
General Vitamin D Deficiency Enquiry Form
Please use this form to make more general enquiries about Vitamin D Deficiency. The form will be passed to Dr Martinez and all information will be held confidentially
Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency
Supplementation of vitamin D is an obvious possibility but before leaping to that as a ‘simple solution’ it is important to recognise that vitamin D deficiency has a wide variety of underlying causes and it may be vital to address some of those too, rather than simply replacing what’s deficient.
Equally, the symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency can also be caused by a number of other conditions, both benign and more severe. It is important to ascertain the cause before simply getting rid of the symptoms.
So, although it may sound like common sense (because it is), ultimately the right solution depends on the underlying nature of the problem and that’s something your doctor will want to discuss with you in the event you do find yourself vitamin D deficient.