Updated: Mar 7, 2021
1Health's doctor Dr Rakesh Mohan is an orthopedist in Dasarahalli, Bangalore, Karnataka. Consult him for Vitamin D definciency related problems. Please call 1Health Medical Center on 098809 50950 to book an appointment.
Is there an age group of people affected with Vitamin D disorders?
Vitamin D deficiency disorders are one of the most common deficiency disorders affecting individuals across all age groups. Previously, this was believed to be a disorder that affected the vulnerable age groups like children and elderly. But now, it has been widely observed that young active adults too are afflicted by this disorder.
Why is Vitamin D referred to as the Sunshine Vitamin?
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol or Vitamin D3) is rightly called the “SUNSHINE VITAMIN.” It is so called because sunshine plays a major role in its synthesis in the human body. Vitamin D in its natural form is produced by the skin from cholesterol when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) energy. The major source of ultraviolet B is the sun. Hence, it is best advised to expose one’s skin to the sun in the early morning and late evening.
Other sources of Vitamin D
Consumption of foods rich in Vitamin D is also important to supplement the body’s Vitamin D production. Rich dietary sources of Vitamin D are cod liver oil, fishes like Sardine, Salmon, Mackerel, & Tuna, milk, and egg. It is really important to supplement the body's production of Vitamin D with food rich in Vitamin D as there’s always a shortcoming in the body’s production of Vitamin D.
Reasons for underproduction of Vitamin D in an individual
Vitamin D synthesis from the skin is not constant always as an individual’s exposure to sunlight varies throughout the year, coupled with the fact that there are varying levels of intensity of UV rays at different times of a particular day, and likewise, the radiation’s intensity can vary with differing seasons.
Importantly, use of sunscreens above SPF 15 reduces the vitamin D synthesis by 99%.
Also, it is observed that dark skinned individuals are more prone to Vitamin D disorders since the high melanin content in their skin acts as a natural barrier to UV rays. Thus melanin blocks out the UV rays undermining the natural production of Vitamin D in their skin.
It is also observed that the practice of women wearing purdah, or abhaya, and similarly men using long robes, whereby all of the skin is covered and prevented from being exposed to the sunlight, has come to be a strong reason for Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D disorders are common in populations who follow these practices.
Effects of Vitamin D deficiency
Liver, kidney disorders, and malabsorption syndromes also add up to vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is essential for calcium metabolism in our body and is the most important factor determining bone and muscle health.
Vitamin D deficiency in children presents itself with growth abnormalities, and recurrent infections due to reduced immunity.
Young adults and middle aged individuals experience a more varied range of symptoms like bone pain, muscle pain, muscle weakness, tiredness, day time sleepiness, and recurrent infections.
Elderly individuals are at the highest risk of vitamin D related problems since they have 75% reduced capacity of Vitamin D synthesis. They may experience chronic pain, osteoporotic fractures with minor injuries.
Detecting Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can be easily diagnosed by a simple blood test.
Treating Vitamin D deficiency
Mild to moderate deficiency is treated by oral administration of vitamin D capsules once a week, and severe deficiency may require vitamin D injections once a month. Strictly consult with a doctor prior for best advice and medication.