Why You Need Vitamin D: What is the Danger of Its Deficiency

The human body produces vitamin D in response to sun exposure. People can also increase their intake of vitamin D through certain foods or supplements.

Why do I need to drink vitamin D? Vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It also plays many other important roles in the body, including regulating inflammation and immune function.

Despite its name, vitamin D is not a vitamin, but a hormone or prohormone.

In this article, the editor-in-chief will discuss the benefits of vitamin D for the body, what happens to the body when people do not get enough of it, and how to increase vitamin D intake.

Vitamin D for adults and its role in the human body

Vitamin D plays an important role in many body functions.

Healthy bones

Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in the intestines and helps maintain adequate levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, which is necessary for healthy bone mineralization.

Vitamin D deficiency in children can cause rickets, which leads to clubfoot due to softening of the bones. Likewise, in adults, vitamin D deficiency manifests itself as osteomalacia or bone softening. Osteomalacia leads to decreased bone density and muscle weakness.

Long-term vitamin D deficiency can also manifest as osteoporosis.

Immune function

Adequate vitamin D intake can support good immune function and reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases.

Researchers from reliable sources suggest that vitamin D plays an important role in immune function. They believe that there may be a link between long-term vitamin D deficiency and the development of autoimmune conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis, but more research is needed to confirm this link.

Although in vitro studies have shown that vitamin D has a positive effect on the immune response of human cells, researchers have yet to replicate these results in controlled human trials.

Although the body can produce vitamin D, some people are more at risk of vitamin D deficiency than others. Factors that can affect this include:

Skin color: Skin pigmentation reduces the body’s ability to absorb the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Sunlight absorption is necessary for the skin to produce vitamin D.

Lack of sun exposure: People who live in northern latitudes or areas with high levels of pollution, work night shifts, or are at home should strive to get vitamin D from food sources whenever possible.

Breastfeeding: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all breastfed infants receive 400 international units of vitamin D per day orally.

Older adults: The skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D decreases with age. Older people may also spend more time indoors.

Those with conditions that limit fat absorption: Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means that intake depends on whether the intestines absorb dietary fat. Conditions that limit fat absorption can reduce the intake of vitamin D from food.

Obese people: High levels of body fat can limit the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the skin.

People after gastric bypass surgery: This surgery bypasses the part of the upper intestine that absorbs large amounts of vitamin D. This bypass can cause vitamin D deficiency.

How to understand that the body lacks vitamin D

Most people with vitamin D deficiency have no symptoms. However, chronic deficiency can cause hypocalcemia, calcium deficiency disease, and hyperparathyroidism, when the parathyroid glands create a hormonal imbalance that increases blood calcium levels.

These conditions can lead to secondary symptoms, including

  • brittle bones, especially in the elderly
  • osteoporosis
  • bone pain
  • fatigue
  • muscle twitching
  • muscle weakness
  • myalgias or muscle pain
  • arthralgia or stiffness of the joints

If vitamin D deficiency continues for a long time, it can lead to complications such as

  • cardiovascular disease
  • autoimmune problems
  • neurological diseases
  • infection
  • pregnancy complications
  • some types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and colon cancer

It is often the case that parents want to help their children “get healthy” and buy vitamins for their children in pharmacies without thinking whether it is really necessary.

Indeed, there are cases when a child needs vitamins, but most often children eat a balanced diet and get all the necessary vitamins and minerals from food.

“Provided that a child has a full, varied, healthy diet, he or she is likely to receive all the necessary vitamins and minerals. In addition, an increased dose of vitamins without a doctor’s prescription can cause unpleasant symptoms and metabolic disorders,” the doctors say.

It should be reminded that parents often want to help their children “get healthy” and buy vitamins for their children in pharmacies without thinking about whether it is really necessary.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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