Vitamin D is an important substance for keeping you healthy. A lack of vitamin D in your blood can cause a variety of symptoms, such as depression and weak bones, and lead to serious diseases. Low levels of vitamin D can also lead to low levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, which can cause other symptoms.
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Vitamin D Deficiency
At least 30 percent of Americans and possibly many more have a deficiency in vitamin D, says Dr. Frank Lipman, founder and director of Eleven-Eleven Wellness Center in NY. A vitamin D deficiency means there are low levels of the vitamin in your blood. Dr. Lipman recommends 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day for at least three months if you have a blood level of lower than 35 ng/ml, followed by a maintenance supplementation of 2,000 to 4,000 IU. If your blood levels are not as low, you need less supplements; 5,000 IU is appropriate for a blood level of 35 to 45 ng/ml. Supplement only under a doctor's care.
You may experience a variety of symptoms from a vitamin D deficiency or just general pains in your muscles and joints. Specific symptoms you can feel include cramps, headaches, fatigue and constipation. You may notice yourself gaining weight or having difficultly sleeping or concentrating. Your doctor may discover on examination that your blood pressure is high. Depression may also be a symptom of a vitamin D deficiency, according to a study published in the "Archives of General Psychiatry" in May 2008. When you do not have enough vitamin D, it causes an increase in serum parathyroid hormone levels, which are amounts of hormones in the blood that are made by the parathyroid glands. Overactive parathyroid glands are often accompanied by depression, though it is not yet known whether the depression comes first as a cause of the low vitamin D, or vice versa.
Low levels of vitamin D relate to low levels of calcium and phosphorus. Your body needs calcium and phosphate, from phosphorus, to build strong bones. The lack of these nutrients in your body can cause osteolamacia. Symptoms include pain in the bones of your hips, legs, ribs, pelvis and lumbar spine of the lower back. You may also feel weakness in your limbs, notice less muscle tone and have a harder time moving and walking around.
Rickets is a similar condition to osteomalacia, but instead it affects children. Children lacking vitamin D and therefore low in calcium can develop bony deformities. This usually happens when children do not spend enough time in the sun and have a reduced dietary intake of vitamin D.