01/9Vitamin D is produced by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which is extremely important for biological functions. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Vitamin D is produced by the skin when it gets exposed to sunlight. Since this vitamin is synthesized by the body under limited conditions, there are chances of it being deficient in the body. There are several reasons for this: many people stay at places where there is less sunlight, also sometimes the nature of work and lifestyle people have does not give them much scope to be out in the sunlight. Many other times, it is sheer unawareness that leads to vitamin D deficiency in human beings.

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02/9​What happens to your body when you do not have sufficient vitamin D?

Since vitamin D aids in the intestinal absorption of several minerals, the deficiency of this vitamin will affect the health of the respective body organs which primarily depend on those minerals.

For example calcium strengthens the bone, so when your body does not have sufficient vitamin D it may lead to bone loss.

In children, deficiency of vitamin D can lead to rickets, in which they develop soft bones which deform the skeletal structure in them.

In adults, it might lead to a condition called osteomalacia in which the bones are softened. This condition is different from osteoporosis; in osteoporosis the bones get porous and brittle.

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03/9​What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

The common symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency are: fatigue, pain in the joint areas, muscle weakness, change in mood. Lack of vitamin D also leads to headaches.

Since there are no distinct symptoms of vitamin D, its deficiency often goes unnoticed. People do not realise they are deficient in this essential vitamin, until it is too late.

Therefore it is highly recommended to get blood tests done for vitamin D levels if you feel you are not getting sufficient exposure to sunlight.

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04/9​The neurological issues associated with vitamin D deficiency

Apart from the issues mentioned above, vitamin D has been massively linked to brain health. Its contribution to brain functioning is a reason why its deficiency affects cognitive functioning. Vitamin D deficiency has been clinically linked to neurological diseases and neuropsychological disorders, cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases.

Research studies have confirmed the function of vitamin D as a neurosteroid which is vital for the normal functioning of the brain. Low levels of this vitamin may lead to neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsons’s disease and neurocognitive disorders.

Studies have also linked vitamin D with depression. A 2017 research study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research had found that vitamin D supplementation had actually improved the mood in women who had type 2 diabetes.

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05/9​Who is at more risk of vitamin D deficiency?

Despite wide availability of medications and supplements, there are certain people who are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency.

People who have bowel issues like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease where the normal digestion of fat is an issue, vitamin D might be a problem.

People who are obese tend to have a lower level of vitamin D in the blood.

People who have had gastric bypass surgery where the upper part of the small intestine is mostly removed, there will be difficulty in absorbing the vitamin D.

People who are lactose intolerant might also develop a deficiency in this vitamin. Similar is the case with those who are vegan.

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06/9​Other medical conditions that can lead to vitamin D deficiency

Medical conditions like cystic fibrosis, celiac disease can stop the intestines from absorbing vitamin D, even when you take supplements.

Kidney disease and liver disease can also hinder the body's ability to process vitamin D for biological use. Hepatic enzyme 25–hydroxylase from liver and 1-alpha-hydroxylase from kidneys regulate the process of conversion of vitamin D to a form that can be used by the human body; lack of these enzymes will affect the vitamin level in the body.

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07/9​Can you overdose yourself on vitamin D?

Yes, you can! The condition called vitamin D toxicity happens when a person has an overconsumption of vitamin D.

An overdose of vitamin D may lead to calcium build up in the body. This can have symptoms like vomiting, nausea, and frequent urination. An overdose of vitamin D can harm the kidneys as well.

Vitamin D toxicity can also lead to agitation, irritability, and confusion.

Taking more than 1,000–2,500 micrograms of vitamin D on a daily basis for several months is known to cause toxicity in the body.

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08/9​What are the signs of vitamin D toxicity?

An overdose of vitamin D intake leads to toxicity in the body. Contrary to what many believe that an excessive intake of vitamins will do no harm to the body and will be simply flushed out, an excess of vitamin D actually does more harm to the body.

It leads to nausea, build up of calcium, vomitting, extreme weakness and frequent urination. While these signs may not seem critical in its initial stages, leaving it untreated for several days and months may cause serious damage to the body.

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09/9​What is the daily intake requirement of vitamin D?

Ideally an adult should have 10-20 micrograms of vitamin D per day. While this is the general requirement for adults, infants, children, teens, and the elderly may need more.

The amount of vitamin D one needs greatly varies from individual to individual depending on several biological and external factors. It is advisable to consult a doctor for the exact dosage.

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