Vitamin D Deficiency

February 10, 2010

On Monday I told you about why vitamin D has become such a hot topic over the past few years. One of the things I mentioned is that it is quite difficult to take in the amount of vitamin D that is now considered necessary for your health. This means that many people may be deficient in vitamin D, most of whom will not even know they are.

The main reason for deficiency is decreased exposure to the sun, the primary source of vitamin D (because sun leads to D synthesis in the body).  Other causes of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Dark skin — the darker the skin, the less able the skin is to produce vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.
  • Older age (50+) — as people age their skin cannot make vitamin D as efficiently, plus they spend less time outdoors in the sun.
  • Fat malabsorption diseases — people with celiac disease, crohn’s disease, and liver disease have less fat in their gut, therefore it is harder for a fat-soluble vitamin like vitamin D to be absorbed.
  • Obesity — fat in the body holds onto vitamin D, making it less available to circulate in the body.

If any of the above causes is something you deal with, or if you have noticed notably weaker bones, you may want to get tested for vitamin D deficiency. It is becoming much more common for doctors to test for this deficiency, so don’t be surprised if your doctor suggests it even if you don’t think you are at risk.

If you are deficient, it is best to take a vitamin D supplement, because as I mentioned yesterday, it is difficult to get an adequate amount of vitamin D from food. When buying a supplement, look for vitamin D3, cholecalciferol, which is the more potent type of vitamin D. If you are deficient in vitamin D, you are likely deficient in calcium as well, since vitamin D helps calcium absorb. Therefore, you may want to consider taking a calcium supplement that contains vitamin D.

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Great information!
    Another side effect of low vitamin D is fatigue…. my sister was feeling very tired and went to her doctor, thinking she was probably anemic. The doctor surprisingly included Vitamin D on requisition for blood work (in my experience, you have to ask the doctor to add it).
    Turns out it was very low!

    1. Thanks! That’s really interesting. I think in the past it was something people had to ask for, but these days I’ve been hearing more and more that people are getting results of vitamin D levels without asking the doctor about it.

  2. One of the biggest medical practices in the Portland, Maine, area has recently begun testing for Vitamin D level on routine “check up” blood work. Good thing, too, considering our latitude and the cold weather requiring people to cover up most of the year.