Vitamin D is unique among vitamins; firstly it can be synthesized in the skin from the sunlight. If there is enough exposure to sunlight you are safe from suffering vitamin D deficiency. Secondly vitamin D in biological active form is a hormone called calcitriol. Vitamin D is converted to this hormone in liver and then in kidney, before it performs its role in the body.
Severe Vitamin D Deficiency can be due to
- Low intake of food which are rich in vitamin D. They are egg yolk, fish oil, fish, milk, cheese, liver, and certain grains.
- Lack of exposure to sunlight.
- Kidney disorder, where vitamin D cannot be converted into its active form. It is observed in old age.
- Where the absorption is difficult, as in case of crohn’s disease, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis etc.
- Pregnancy, where there is increased demand of vitamin D.
- Dark colored skin.
- Certain medicines such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, barbiturates etc.
- Strict vegetarian diet are also at the risk of moderate to severe vitamin D deficiency
Symptoms of Severe Vitamin D Deficiency
- In children it can cause rickets, where the skull and bones are soft. The legs are curved and appear bow leg.
- Late development of teeth.
- Poor growth of bones and stunted growth in children.
- Repeated infections of upper and lower respiratory tract in children.
- Breathing difficulty due to weak bony cage and thorax muscles.
- In adults severe vitamin deficiency may cause pain in the bones, difficulty in walking and climbing stairs.
- Severe deficiency may cause osteomalacia in adults.
- Bone becomes brittle and chances of fracture increases as there is calcium deficiency observed with vitamin D deficiency.
- Mood swings and depression is noted in severe vitamin D deficiency.
- Chronic fatigue.
Treatment of Severe Vitamin D Deficiency
- Severe deficiency of vitamin D requires supplementation in the form of medicine.
- Alter the diet; eat more of vitamin D containing foods.
- Sunlight exposure for few hours is necessary.