In recent years an increasing amount of attention has been given to the importance of vitamin D. Since vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun, and most full-time jobs require sitting at a desk all day, many people are deficient in this essential vitamin. In fact, a study documented in Medical Express found that around 80% of people who work a regular 9-5 job have a vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, global lockdowns due to Covid-19 make the risk of Vitamin D deficiency even higher. This common affliction has few obvious symptoms at first but grows increasingly severe without treatment. Due to the chemical complexity of the vitamin, it plays roles throughout the entire body and is vital to maintaining good health.
Vitamin D comes from UVB which is produced from the sun and absorbed by our skin. The energy is converted to vitamin D3. The D3 is carried to your liver, then kidneys, and is finally transformed into active vitamin D.
What is a Vitamin D Deficiency?
The obvious answer would be that a vitamin D deficiency occurs when your body does not receive enough of the “sunshine vitamin”. However, let’s dig a bit deeper. What symptoms can a vitamin D deficiency cause? Depending on the severity, it can cause a variety of symptoms including the following:
- A weakened immune system (getting sick often)
- Bone pain
- Bone loss
- Hair loss
- Muscle and joint pain
These symptoms vary from person to person and can have long-term implications that require medical treatment. For example, according to Harvard Medical School, one of the main roles of vitamin D is increasing the intestinal absorption of calcium which can aid in bone health. This means that conditions such as osteoporosis can be directly worsened by a vitamin D deficiency.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you fear that you have a vitamin D deficiency, you should do is consult with your healthcare provider immediately. Even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms, it is recommended to check vitamin D levels during your annual blood test. The amount of daily vitamin D needed by a person varies depending on a number of factors including age, diet, health status, and UVB exposure. According to Medical News Today, a sufficient level is between 50-125 nmol/l.
If you find that you have a deficiency, developing a plan with your healthcare provider is essential. Some modes of treatment include:
- Taking daily or weekly supplements. Low-dose supplements can be bought over the counter, while higher doses may require a prescription.
- Eating a diet rich in vitamin D. This includes foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, seafood, etc.
- Getting more exposure to natural sunlight.
Even if you don’t have a deficiency, eating a well-balanced diet and spending 15-30 minutes outside at least three days a week is key. During long winter months with little sunlight, even more sun time is required. Many people don’t realize they are deficient until they receive a diagnosis. Anyone is susceptible to a vitamin D deficiency, but luckily treatment is available.
If you are worried that you or someone you love has Vitamin D deficiency, we can help! To contact an experienced double board certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine doctor serving patients across Kentucky and Southern Indiana, call Orthopaedic Specialists at 502-212-2663 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Stacie Grossfeld.