Vitamin D FAQ
Reviewed By : Dr. Anjali D.
Following are some common questions about Vitamin D:
- What is the importance of Vitamin D for our body?
- What is the right amount of Vitamin D that human body requires?
- What are the visible symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?
- What are the different factors that lead to Vitamin D deficiency?
- What complications or risks are associated with deficiency of Vitamin D?
- Is excess Vitamin D harmful?
- Which are the different tests suggested for Vitamin D deficiency/Excess?
- What are the normal values of tests recommended for Vitamin D deficiency/Excess?
- What are the costs of Vitamin D tests in India?
- What are the different treatment methods suggested for Vitamin D deficiency?
- Which foods are recommended for getting Vitamin D in right proportion?
- Infants fed exclusively with breastfeeding need supplement of Vitamin D – Right or Wrong?
- Does a vegan diet lead to deficiency of Vitamin D?
What is the importance of Vitamin D for our body?
Vitamin D plays several vital functions for your body as follows:
- Helps in regulation of phosphorous and calcium absorption
- Facilitates functioning of immune system in a normal manner
- Aids in normal development and growth of teeth and bones
- Acts as a strong resistant for certain diseases
Though the name suggests that Vitamin D belongs to regular vitamin family, in reality it is just one steroid hormone obtained primarily via exposure to sun.
What is the right amount of Vitamin D that human body requires?
The recommended value for intake of Vitamin D per day is 20 micro gms. This value is recommended if the body is not able to produce Vitamin D itself and is applicable for every age group starting for year one.
If any individual regularly stays outdoors (under predominant conditions pertaining to country of residence), his or her body can produce 80 – 90 % of recommended Vitamin D.
If Vitamin D is obtained via customary foods, the proportion produced in the body is around 10 – 20% and is hence not useful for assessment of actual supply.
What are the visible symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?
The following symptoms are associated with Vitamin D deficiency:
- Excessive sweating: Excessive sweat across your forehead; even when activity is minimum is a sure sign of Vitamin D deficiency.
- Unexpected weakness: Easily feeling exhausted is a symptom that your muscles are weak and hence, a Vitamin D test is recommended.
- Weakened bones: Deficiency of Vitamin D leads to weakening and paining of bones; thus increasing your risk of fracture.
- Chronic pain: Ailments such as arthritis, muscle and joint aches that cause discomfort are signs that you may be deficient of Vitamin D.
- Depression: Depression and mood swings are often related to deficiency of Vitamin D.
What are the different factors that lead to Vitamin D deficiency?
A significant cause for deficiency of Vitamin D is less exposure to sun; however, other factors that may be a cause include:
- Overusing sunblock
- Being below five years of age
- People with dark skin
- Spending long time indoors
What complications or risks are associated with deficiency of Vitamin D?
Deficiency of Vitamin D may lead to various chronic ailments as follows:
- Heart, breast or bowel cancer
- Multiple sclerosis
Is excess Vitamin D harmful?
If Vitamin D levels increase to dangerous levels, you may witness symptoms such as:
Toxicity to Vitamin D is however uncommon. People used to consuming supplements of Vitamin D are usually affected due to such condition. However, it is important to note that certain conditions such as kidney or liver disease make patients sensitive to Vitamin D effects. Checking with your doctor for chronic history prior to consuming supplements is recommended.
- Appetite loss
- Sick feeling
- Urinating frequently
Which are the different tests suggested for Vitamin D deficiency/Excess?
The following test is suggested for Vitamin D deficiency:
The following test is suggested when Vitamin D is in excess:
- 25-Hydroxyvitamin D: When low calcium levels or/and symptoms like rickets (bone malformation) in children and osteomalacia (fracture) in adults are observed, this test is prescribed for finding possibility of Vitamin D deficiency.
- 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D: When high calcium levels or diseases that may lead to production of excess Vitamin D are found in people, this test is prescribed for checking about the excess amount.
What are the normal values of tests recommended for Vitamin D deficiency/Excess?
The normal lab values for Vitamin D tests are as follows:
- 25-Hydroxyvitamin D: 20 – 40 ng/ml
- 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D: Normal reference range for different laboratories may vary.
What are the costs of Vitamin D tests in India?
The prices for tests recommended for Vitamin D will vary based of factors such as city of residence, type of laboratory or hospital along with facilities provided by the testing center. You can get a comprehensive list of costs for Vitamin D tests across Indian cities here.
What are the different treatment methods suggested for Vitamin D deficiency?
The various treatment methods used for treatment of Vitamin D deficiency are as follows:
- If the deficiency is in mild or moderate form, then simple lifestyle changes that include eating Vitamin D rich foods and getting more sunlight are recommended
- For some patients, doctors may also advice an intake of supplements for Vitamin D
- When cases are severe and patients have been affected by factors such as bone density and growth, injections for Vitamin D are suggested
Which foods are recommended for getting Vitamin D in right proportion?
Though it is true that food alone cannot help getting proportionate Vitamin D, some food sources that can help are:
- Fish that are rich in oil, such as mackerel, sardines and salmon
- Fat spreads that are fortified
- Powdered milk
- Breakfast cereals that are fortified
Infants fed exclusively with breastfeeding need supplement of Vitamin D – Right or Wrong?
Firstly it needs to be understood that breastfeeding is a necessity for six months from birth of the baby and is the right food form for growth and development of the infant. Breast milk provides essential immunological agents and nutrients for developing the immune system of babies.
However, breast milk is not a rich source for providing Vitamin D. This is especially true for breastfeeding mothers who themselves are deficient in Vitamin D. This is the reason why supplements of Vitamin D are prescribed for infants fed exclusively with breast milk.
Does a vegan diet lead to deficiency of Vitamin D?
It is a fact that any individual; irrespective of whether he or she is vegan or a non-vegetarian, will develop a deficiency for Vitamin D if right sources of Vitamin D are not included in diet or if exposure to sun is not sufficient.
Studies prove that a vegan diet provides lesser intake of Vitamin D in comparison to that provided to meat-eaters or lacto-ovo vegetarians (people who consume eggs and milk products).