Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is produced by your body with exposure to natural sunlight. This vitamin plays an important role in the absorption of the mineral calcium, which creates the structure of your teeth and bones. A severe deficiency of vitamin D can cause problems with the integrity of the strength of your bones. In its milder forms, a vitamin D deficiency can both cause and be caused by gastrointestinal problems. Check with your doctor before using a dietary supplement.
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The Role of Vitamin D
Vitamin D regulates several processes in your body, aside from bone and tooth building and repair. The National Institutes of Health explains that vitamin D also regulates your immune system, helps your cells grow and manages the integrity of your brain and spinal cord. The National Cancer Institute explains that vitamin D is technically not a vitamin but a precursor to a hormone in your body. Vitamin D also helps to maintain the strength of your muscles and regulates phosphate, a substance that works in conjunction with calcium to build and strengthen bones.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Stomach Problems
There does not appear to be any direct association between a vitamin D deficiency and increase risk of stomach cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. An article published in the 2005 issue of "Diabetes Care" explains that individuals who have had bariatric surgery for obesity may experience vitamin D and calcium deficiencies. The researcher, Ken Fujioka, M.D., adds that this is caused by impaired absorption of fat. Symptoms of impaired fat absorption can include stomach problems such as stomach upset and diarrhea. Individuals who haven't had surgery but who have impaired fat absorption may also experience stomach upset as a result.
If you are experiencing stomach problems, get a medical checkup to find out the underlying cause. Treatment for a vitamin D deficiency caused by fat malabsorption may require intravenous or oral supplementation. In addition, your physician may also prescribe a calcium supplement in order to replenish your body's stores. Although a vitamin D deficiency is not directly associated with stomach problems, it can cause other symptoms such as weakening of your bones, pain and muscle weakness. This condition too, should be evaluated and treated by your physician.
Groups that are more likely to develop a vitamin D deficiency include the elderly, children who are breastfeeding and people with darker skin pigmentation. In addition, individuals who have conditions that impair nutrient absorption such as Crohn's disease are also at higher risk. The National Cancer Institute explains that consuming vitamin D-rich foods, such as fortified dairy products, is safer than supplementing vitamin D. Because your body stores vitamin D in your fat, it can accumulate to toxic levels if regularly taken in large quantities.