Vitamin D plays a vital role in your day-to-day health, but up to a third of Americans may not be getting enough in their normal diets. Check for these Vitamin D deficiency symptoms to avoid health complications.
Vitamin D supports strong, healthy bones by helping manage calcium and phosphorous levels in your bloodstream. While found in such foods as eggs, fish, and fortified milk, Vitamin D is also referred to as the “sunshine Vitamin” because your body produces Vitamin D anytime you’re exposed to the sun. If you don’t get enough sun exposure and digestible Vitamin D, it can lead to a deficiency that causes serious health problems.
Are You at Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency?
Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health suggest that up to a third of the US population is not getting enough Vitamin D. They’ve also identified the following as those facing a higher risk:
- Older adults. As your skin ages, it produces less Vitamin D when exposed to the sun.
- Those with darker skin. Skin with more melanin pigment tends to produce less Vitamin D when outdoors.
- Individuals with limited sun exposure. Those holding certain jobs without window exposure, such as office workers and miners, do not get enough sun to produce Vitamin D.
- Obese individuals. Their levels of subcutaneous fat may accumulate Vitamin D and disrupt its release into the bloodstream.
- Breastfed infants. Human milk normally cannot provide enough Vitamin D unless the mother is taking a supplement.
If you are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency, or you are experiencing Vitamin D deficiency symptoms, talk to your pharmacist about your over-the-counter and prescription supplement options.
Typical Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include lower back pain, muscle weakness, muscle aches, and throbbing bone pain when pressure is applied to your breastbone or shinbone. Some sources also cite excessive sweating as an indication of a deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency, if left untreated, can lead to severe health problems. Rickets, the failure of bone tissue to properly form, can afflict children who lack access to Vitamin D supplements or milk fortified with Vitamin D. Rickets are characterized by soft bones and skeletal deformities.
In adults, osteomalacia occurs when your Vitamin D deficiency disrupts normal bone formation, which results in soft bones that are more likely to bow and fracture. Osteoporosis, caused by calcium deficiencies, is worsened when Vitamin D deficiencies reduce calcium absorption.
The Health Benefits of Vitamin D
Higher levels of Vitamin D in the bloodstream may also be associated with reduced risk of colon, prostate, and breast cancers. Vitamin D may also play a role in lower risks for diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, and cardiovascular disease. Because Vitamin D contributes to bone and muscle health, it can also reduce the incidence of falls, which can be a major health risk for elderly Americans.
While medical research on the benefits of Vitamin D continues, there is no disagreement that proper levels of Vitamin D are critical to keeping your bones strong and maintaining your general health.
Vitamin D Deficiency Treatment
In many cases, your doctor can determine if you have a Vitamin D deficiency with a simple blood test. The good news is that effective Vitamin D deficiency treatment may consist of no more than a course of supplements and a suggestion to spend some more time outdoors.
Your doctor may initially prescribe a high-level Vitamin D supplement for six to eight weeks followed by a maintenance-level supplement. Follow-up blood tests might also be ordered so that your improvement can be tracked over the course of your treatment. Smith-Caldwell offers both over-the-counter and prescription solutions for Vitamin D deficiency.
One cautionary point: excessive daily intake of Vitamin D can make you sick. Infants, adults, and the elderly all have different RDAs (recommended dietary allowances) for Vitamin D, so talk to your doctor before you start taking a Vitamin D supplement. You should also ask your pharmacist about any possible reactions Vitamin D could have with your current medications.
For information on Vitamin D deficiency treatment in Arkansas, contact Smith-Caldwell Drug Store at 501-392-5470. We also offer customized doses to make increasing your Vitamin D intake as convenient as possible.