What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency

What causes vitamin D Deficiency? Vitamin D is on of the most common types of vitamin deficiency. This condition appears as a result of not ingesting enough preformed vitamin D (found in eggs, fish, fortified milk and cod liver oil), lack of sun exposure (the sun helps us produce this vitamin), and malabsorption (due to conditions that keep vitamin D from converting into active metabolites).

Certain conditions keep us from getting enough sun exposure, people who live near the north pole, people with dark skin, old and young people who don’t go out too much, and people who cover their skin frequently (like for example in some Muslim countries) can suffer of vitamin D deficiency caused by inadequate sun exposure. Sun exposure is the deciding factor in our levels of vitamin D, since we don’t get too much of it from food.

Having said that, it is also good to keep a healthy diet to supplement any lack of vitamin D production. Infants for example may benefit greatly from a diet with fortified milk, since this type of milk has added vitamins that common milk doesn’t have.

The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) can help us determine the amount of vitamin D needed to avoid deficiencies. On adults, the RDA is 200 IU a day (IU stands for International Units). It is wise to choose food containing higher levels of this vitamin, or else we’ll need great amounts of one food to get to the needed levels.

Now that you know the causes, know that it is greatly a matter of prevention. You should go out everyday for a few minutes at least to get the help of the rays of the sun and ensure that you have a good, healthy diet that meets your nutritional needs.

If a vitamin D deficiency is prolonged it will have an impact on your bones and will develop bowed legs. This luckily is not as common as before, there are fewer cases. This condition is called rickets or osteomalacia (varies according to the age of the patient) and the symptoms include weakness in muscles, easily fractured bones, reduced bone strength and waddling walk.

Excessive sun exposure can also be dangerous, making us run risk of developing skin cancer. It is good to also ask a doctor what the ideal sun exposure time is in your specific case to help the production of vitamin D in a responsible, healthy way.

  1. liliana
    July 10th, 2009 at 08:52 | #1

    your information was very helpful i was just diagnosed with vitamin d deficiency so iam trying to get as much inforation as i can

  2. Liz Medlin
    August 22nd, 2009 at 06:54 | #2

    I have recently been diagnosed with a vitiman D def. I have severe leg pain. More in one leg than the other. The pain is so severe that I can not sleep at night. Is this pain a result of the deficiency? My level was below 17 (?) The doctor prescribed 50,000 units of vitamin D twice a week. Will this help the pain to decrease? If so how long will it take?

  3. ayleeann
    August 24th, 2009 at 13:37 | #3

    I have been experience severe almost debilitating pain in my pelvis mostly when I sit (at job) for long, a great deal of pain in my hips and knees too. I get a lot of muscle spasms in my feet and the pain and spasms often keep me up at night. While I do have other conditions (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) that I thought explained my joint/pelvis pain, my doctor decided to check my Vitamin D levels because I am lactose intolerant and gave up milk 30 years ago, rarely eat any dairy and am allergic to sunlight so I avoid it (break out in hives in the sun). Turns out I was just diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency and have been prescribed 50k units of Vit D daily. My blood level showed only 13 (I was told normal is between 30 and 100). I never would have thought it could be a vitamin deficiency!

  4. Beth
    November 5th, 2009 at 08:14 | #4

    My doctor recently told me to take 5,000 IU’s of Vitamin D once a day because my vitamin D level is low. Does this seem correct? It seems like a very high amount to take each day. Also, does anyone know how long it takes for the vitamins to work? I got blood work because I’m in my late 20′s and am constantly tired and having stomach pains. I’m happy that I finally found out what the issue is, but I am just wondering if anyone can give me advice on what else to increase my vitamin D level.

  5. Paula
    November 24th, 2009 at 12:28 | #5

    I was recently diagnosed with a severe vitamin D deficieny. As one of the previous bloggers wrote, I too am having severe leg pain and cramps. I wonder if this is related to the deficieny.

  6. Humaira
    December 1st, 2009 at 14:15 | #6

    Hi, My 5 year old son has been diagnosed with vit d deficiency. The reason for investigation is poor growth over the last few years. He has hardly gained weight and height. Can simply adding vit d to his diet improve all of this? Have you had experience with vit d and such symptoms in children?
    Thank you

  7. ashlee
    February 2nd, 2010 at 13:49 | #7

    I am currently taking 50,000 IUD a week. I was at 13 and after 8 weeks was a 24, so I’m on it for 12 more weeks. I was wondering if anyone knew if it is safe to take during pregnancy. My DH and I are hoping to concieve soon.

  8. Jeannie
    March 12th, 2010 at 20:29 | #8

    @Beth
    Hi,
    I too was diagnosed with low Vitamin D after being diagnosed with low Vitamin B12. I was prescribed a Vitamin D 50,000 Unit pill once a week then switched to 2,000 units per day. It came back up within 2 months.
    I still have no reflexes in arms and legs due to Vitamin B12 was not diagnosed for a long time; therefore, I have permanent nerve damage in fingers and toes. It has been over a year since I started taking Vitamin B12 injections. Please get them to check Viatmin B12 on you!!!

  9. Rossanne
    April 7th, 2010 at 10:01 | #9

    I too have been diagnosed with vitamin D dificiency, I don’t drink milk but I was still surprised cause I eat other dairy product and walk in the morning I’m now taking 5ooo i.u.s of vitimin D and I’m going to start sitting in the sun on my patio now that its spring!

  10. Jan Lloyd
    April 13th, 2010 at 22:22 | #10

    I have a Vit D deficiency too and I am hypothyroid. The two seem to be linked but does nyone know how or why. I am constantly outside.

  11. gayle
    April 27th, 2010 at 06:28 | #11

    I too was diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency this past week. I am having all the symptoms, leg pain, mood swings, sleeping irregularities. I have been able to find symptoms, what I can not find is the causes, I live in the south so the exposure to sunlight is not the problem, do drink milk.

  12. Kimberly
    May 6th, 2010 at 13:51 | #12

    Hello,
    Vitamin D deficiency will not cause pain. It can make your muscles weaker, and along with decreased calcium your bones may weaken but it will not be the cause of joint pain, lower leg pain, or pelvis pain. Almost everyone is deficent in Vitamin D, its just the latest craze in the medical feild so Doctors are starting to check it more now. you can start on a reload does of 50,000 IU weekly for 4-8 weeks then switch to that monthly or take 2000 IU over the counter daily.
    It is sagfe to take with pregancy because its just a high dose of the vitamin you get from food and sun. fortified foods like milk will have vitamin, and getting out in the sun as much as possible will help too.

    Kimberly-Intern about to be a Dietitian

  13. Kelly
    June 27th, 2010 at 14:20 | #13

    With all due respect Kimberly, you’re are wrong — pain is one of the common symptoms of vitamin d deficiency.

    Check Pubmed…there are dozens of studies linking vitamin d-3 deficiency with a variety of different types of pain, including muscular, bone, and joint pain.

    Quoting just one study from Johns Hopkins: “In one case, months after treatment and subsequent improvement of vitamin D status and pain, the vitamin D status again declined and the pain recurred. The pain again resolved with vitamin D replacement and improvement of levels.”

    Arch Intern Med. 1991 Aug;151(8):1662-4.

    And here’s another one:

    “Initial assessment involved 360 patients (90% women and 10% men) attending spinal and internal medicine clinics over a 6-year period who had experienced low back pain that had no obvious cause for more than 6 months. The patients ranged in age from 15 to 52 years.

    OBJECTIVES: To investigate the contribution of vitamin D deficiency as a cause for idiopathic chronic low back pain, to find a simple and sensitive test for screening patients with low back pain for vitamin D deficiency, and to determine the correlation between the vitamin deficiency and pain. METHODS: A biochemical assay of serum calcium, phosphate, alkaline phosphatase, and 25-hydroxy vitamin D level was performed before and after treatment with vitamin D supplements.

    RESULTS: Findings showed that 83% of the study patients (n = 299) had an abnormally low level of vitamin D before treatment with vitamin D supplements. After treatment, clinical improvement in symptoms was seen in all the groups that had a low level of vitamin D, and in 95% of all the patients (n = 341).

    CONCLUSIONS: Vitamin D deficiency is a major contributor to chronic low back pain in areas where vitamin D deficiency is endemic. Screening for vitamin D deficiency and treatment with supplements should be mandatory in this setting.”

    Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2003 Jan 15;28(2):177-9.

    and there are many, many more like these two.

    I hope you’ll do more studying before you officially become a dietitian and give out such incorrect advice.

  14. lena
    August 26th, 2010 at 11:38 | #14

    I woke up one morning with excruciating pains in my thumb joints. I had been experiencing body aches and pains and tiredness for a period of time and did not know what it was until my dr. gave me a blood test and found that I had a vit-d defiency, she said that it was the lowest that she had ever seen (8) I was given 50,000units of vitamin d hydroxy to be taken for three months and I took 2000mg of citrical calcium with d-3 daily and got plenty of sunshine, I was tested again in 6 months and my level was up to 33. I feel better now and I try to get sunshine and stay on my supplements, although I have cut back to about 1,000mg a day, because I think that the calcuim was interfering with my duiretics that I am taking for my blood pressure. It is very important to have blood test so common health problems can be diagnosed and treated before they become major problems.

  15. October 6th, 2010 at 07:07 | #15

    I too agree with Kelly. Dont be giving absolute advice like that, if you have not done all the research…(kimberly)
    I too have a vitamin D deficiency of just 22 and i was experiencing excrutiating pain in lower back pelvis area. With all joints hurting as well especially the knees. I also think its becuase i am somewhat overweight and weak in muscles and bones doesnt help matters either. But i have been prescribled 50,000 units twice a week and have taken it for two weeks and feel a great deal better than i have felt in ages.

  16. Lissy
    April 21st, 2011 at 18:41 | #16

    Why is it, that there is so many people with D deficiency??? I was also diagnose with the deficiency yesterday, my Doctor is a little concern about how many people, can’t seem to absorb the D vitamin, maybe there is something going on, with the food we’r eating & the water we’r drinking, it is very concerning to me I live in a hot climate & take the sun rays every day, so what is going on??????

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