Vitamin D Deficiency

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A vitamin D deficiency can increase your risk of bone pain, fractures, muscle pain and weakness. The condition is more common in people with dark skin, and a severe lack of vitamin D can contribute to risk of falls in older adults.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus. Often, a vitamin D deficiency will have no symptoms, or symptoms such as muscle weakness and increased sensitivity to pain that can overlap with other conditions.

If you have a low vitamin D level, the condition is easily treated by increasing your intake of vitamin D through dietary changes and dietary supplements.

Your body gets much of its vitamin D — sometimes called the sunshine vitamin — from sun exposure. Skin converts ultraviolet B radiation in sunshine into vitamin D.

Melanin, which causes pigmentation and makes skin dark, absorbs ultraviolet B radiation and interferes with the body’s creation of vitamin D. That’s why Black people and others with dark skin are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. We also get vitamin D from certain foods and can take vitamin D supplements.

If your health care provider suspects your vitamin D level is causing an issue, they may order a test of the 25-hydroxy vitamin D, also known as a 25OHD level, in your blood. This is the most common form of vitamin D, and testing for it is a good measure of your body’s vitamin D production.

If you have a severe enough vitamin D deficiency, your body will turn to your bones to get the calcium it needs. The result can be rickets in children and, in adults, an increased risk of bone breaks.

Studies have suggested that low levels of vitamin D increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, taking megadoses of vitamin D supplements could be harmful. Unless you’ve been diagnosed with a deficiency, eating well and getting outdoors should generate enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency is common among those with celiac disease, which affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Celiac disease, an autoimmune condition, causes the body to develop an intolerance to gluten and can damage the small intestine.

If you have risk factors for a vitamin D deficiency, discuss your concern with your primary care provider, who can determine whether testing is necessary.

Norton Community Medical Associates primary care offices are located across Louisville, Southern Indiana and beyond. Your provider can order drive-thru lab testing for you at Norton Healthcare Express Services if it’s needed. Your test results will be available to your electronically through your Norton MyChart account.

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms

If a vitamin D deficiency has any symptoms, they can be subtle and overlap with other conditions.

If you are at risk of low vitamin D levels, look out for these symptoms:

  • Aching bones and joints and other signs of potential poor bone health
  • Generalized weakness and muscle pain
  • Low energy levels or feeling persistently fatigued
  • Bone fractures that can result from low vitamin D levels

Vitamin D Treatment

Your health care provider may suggest vitamin D supplements to treat a deficiency.

A severe vitamin D deficiency with increased risk of fractures, bone pain and muscle weakness may require more aggressive treatment, including high doses of vitamin D supplements guided by a health professional.

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