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What Does It Mean When Your Body Lacks Vitamin D?

by
author image Judith Tompkins
Based in New York, Judith Tompkins has been writing sleep and nutrition articles since 2002. She worked for six years as a polysomnographer and now serves as a nutrition consultant. Tompkins received an associate's degree in polysomnographic technology from Cuyahoga College, as well as a master's degree in applied clinical nutrition from New York Chiropractic College.
What Does It Mean When Your Body Lacks Vitamin D?
Sunlight coming through the clouds. Photo Credit Design Pics/Carl Shaneff/Design Pics/Getty Images

A deficiency in vitamin D is a very serious problem that can hurt your bone structure and cause extreme discomfort. Finding alternative sources of vitamin D is vital for anyone who is having a problem with deficiency. The most circumstances that lead to low vitamin D is a lack of exposure to sunlight and an insufficient diet.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

The main cause of vitamin D deficiency is not having enough skin exposed to sunlight regularly. Some cultures maintain a strict dress standard that requires people to be covered up while outside. Dark-skinned people and the elderly who don't venture outside much are much less efficient at producing vitamin D from sunlight. To prevent deficiencines, get outside more or add a source of vitamin D into your regular diet.

Recommended Daily Amount

The recommended amount of vitamin d fluctuates based on your age but the standard amount for anyone between the age of 1 and 70 is 15 mcg of vitamin D a day. Infants less than a year old should get 10 mcg a day and adults above 70 need 20 mcg a day. About 15 mcg of vitamin D amounts to just a few hours of sun exposure every week and most people never have to worry about being deficient.

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Side Effects of Deficiency

One of the main side effects of a vitamin D deficiency is a lack of calcium in the body. When there is not enough vitamin D present, calcium cannot be absorbed into the body efficiently and most of the calcium that is ingested is also excreted. Calcium must be leeched from the bones to meet the body’s demands. When calcium is pulled away from the bones of children they cannot form properly, leading to a condition known as rickets. With rickets, the limbs of children bow while growing and they end up with a deformed skeleton. In adults when calcium is leeched from bones, they slowly begin to soften and become painful. Muscle pain and weakness is also a side effect of vitamin D deficiency and with weak bones and weak muscles, deficient people get hurt much more often.

Sources of Vitamin D

By simply going outside for a few hours a week, most people are able to avoid a vitamin D deficiency. As the UV rays from sunlight hit your skin, the rays react with dehydrocholesterol producing vitamin D that supplies the rest of your body. If for some reason you are unable to get out into the sunlight often enough or your body won’t synthesize vitamin D from sunlight efficiently, you will have to get your vitamin D from other sources. The best source out there is cod liver oil and that can be obtained as a supplement or by eating fresh cod. Eggs and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are also excellent sources of vitamin D. There are many cereals and milk that are fortified with vitamin D as well and if you can’t get what you need from food you can buy supplements from most health stores.

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