There Are More Benefits of Vitamin D Than You Know!

Published on: May 06, 2020

Vitamin D is important for a variety of reasons. If your vitamin D level is insufficient or deficient there are some suggestions on how to treat it.  

 

By Drug Information Service, Bumrungrad International Hospital

 

Vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency is common and is defined as a lower than normal vitamin D level. This is a problem because the body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and for other important jobs. People who do not have enough vitamin D can have weak or soft bones, which can break easily or change in shape and weaken muscles, which makes them more likely to fall.

What is the role of vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has several important functions in the body:

  • It helps to absorb dietary calcium and phosphorus from the intestines and keeps normal levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood.
  • It suppresses the release of parathyroid hormone, a hormone that causes bone resorption.

The most serious complications of vitamin D deficiency are low blood calcium, low blood phosphate, rickets disease (softening of the bones during childhood), and osteomalacia (softening of the bones in adults).

Do you have enough Vitamin D?

A low vitamin D level can be diagnosed with a blood test called 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25 (OH)-D). Although there is no formal definition of vitamin D deficiency, some groups use the following values in adults as the table below.

Type Vitamin D concentration (ng/mL)
Normal More than 30
Vitamin D insufficiency 20 – 30
Vitamin D deficiency Lower than 20

 

You can check your vitamin D level with a general check-up.

 

Causes of vitamin D deficiency 

There are various reasons for having a vitamin D deficiency, some of them are:

  • Insufficient intake of vitamin D from food especially vegetarian and non-fish-eating diets.
  • Limited effective sun exposure due to protective clothing or consistent use of sunscreen.
  • Malabsorption, including inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease.
  • Taking medications that accelerate the metabolism of vitamin D, such as bronchodilator, anticonvulsant, and anti-tuberculosis.

How to prevent vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency

Vitamin D is made in the skin under the influence of sunlight. The amount of sunlight needed to synthesize adequate amounts of vitamin D varies, depending upon the person’s age, skin color, sun exposure, and any underlying medical problems.

There are many ways to prevent vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency, for example:

  • Doing outdoor activities for at least 15 minutes for 2-4 times per week. Sunlight will change cholesterol in the body to vitamin D.
  • Taking high vitamin D containing food, such as:
    – Oily fish (such as sardines, trout, tuna, salmon, and mackerel)
    – Cod-liver oil
    – Egg-yolk
    – Milk
    – Fortified foods that have vitamin D added to them (such as margarine, some cereals, and infant formula milk).

 

Treatment of vitamin D deficiency

There are many types of vitamin D preparations available for the treatment of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. The two commonly available forms of vitamin D supplements are

  1. Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and
  2. Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), the naturally occurring form of the vitamin

The recommended dose of vitamin D depends upon the nature and severity of the deficiency.

 

References

  • La-or C, Wichai A, Boonsong O. Regional variation and determinants of vitamin D status in sunshine-abundant Thailand. BMC Public Health 2011; 11:853
  • UpToDate. Patient Education: Vitamin D Deficiency (Beyond and Basics). [Accessed 26 February 2019]
  • Uwe G, Klaus K. Influence of drugs on vitamin D and calcium metabolism. Dermatoendocrinology 2012; 4(2): 158-166.

 

Photo by Getty Images.


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