Vitamin D Deficiency may occur due to many reasons. Here are some of the key factors contributing to deficiency of vitamin D —
Insufficient Exposure to Sun
Those individuals who have limited exposure to sun should include good vitamin D sources in their diet.
Some of them include –
- homebound individuals
- individuals with clothing that totally covers their body
- people residing in the northern latitudes
- individuals who use sunscreen
- those who are working in occupations that prevent their daily sunlight exposure.
These groups are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
At high latitudes, the body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D becomes more and more limited due to seasonal factors. For example, at about 51° latitude, 3 months may pass off without the body being able to make any vitamin D. At 71° and above, it might be more than 5 months.
African-Americans have a darker complexion which restricts the formation of vitamin D. They need more UV exposure for their skin to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D.
A darker skin contains higher amount of melanin, which reduces the amount of vitamin D that the skin can make through sunlight. Around 30 to 50% of the African-Americans in the US might be suffering from vitamin D deficiency.
Breast milk might not contain adequate amounts of vitamin D. Those infants who are fed exclusively on breast-feeding, need vitamin D supplementation if their mother is vitamin D deficient.
But, babies and infants who are fed on infant formulas apart from breast milk might not need vitamin D supplementation because infant formulas are generally fortified with vitamin D, which reduces the chances of its deficiency in infants significantly.
Obese people are at a greater risk of being vitamin D deficient. This is because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, so it can be absorbed in the fat cells and lies stored in there. Thus, it is less readily available for the body’s metabolism process.
Besides that, research shows that obese people produced only 55% the amount of vitamin D as compared to individuals who weighed normally when they were exposed to natural sunlight.
Insufficient Intake or Inability in Absorption of Dietary Fat
Those people consuming a diet which contains very low levels of fats are at risk of vitamin D deficiency as vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin.
Health conditions such as pancreatic enzyme deficiency, celiac sprue, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, gallbladder disease, liver disease and surgical removal of the stomach or any of its part, may lead to deficiency of vitamin D as they reduce the body’s ability to absorb dietary fat.
Greasy stools and diarrhea are among the symptoms that indicate a mal absorption of dietary fat, which might lead to vitamin D deficiency in the body.
Health Conditions involving the Kidney or Parathyroid Gland
Diseases and health conditions that affect the liver, kidney or parathyroid gland impair and hinder the synthesis of vitamin D, which might lead to deficiency of vitamin D.
The vitamin D precursors present in the skin lose their ability with age. Our kidney also loses its ability of converting vitamin D into the active hormone form.
Some individuals genetically inherit vitamin D receptors (VDR) that do not function properly. They need additional vitamin D supplementation to maintain proper health and overcome deficiency of vitamin D.
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