Vitamin D Deficiency

Woman soaking sunshine and creating vitamin D in hte process.

Vitamin D is very unique because we not only get it from food, but also the sun! Also known as the “sunshine vitamin” it is essential for strong bones and preventing diseases like rickets, osteopenia and osteoporosis. Exposure to sunlight and a proper diet will often prevent vitamin D deficiency, but not always!

man suffering from bone pain.

Symptoms

In many cases, there are no symptoms to reveal that vitamin D deficiency exists.   However, in some situations, symptoms may include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness or twitching
  • Muscle or bone pain
  • Thin and brittle bones

While symptoms may be vague, prolonged vitamin D deficiency can lead to other conditions like hyperparathyroidism.  In the older population, it can also lead to symptoms of osteoporosis like fragility bone fractures.

Causes

There are several causes of vitamin D deficiency.   The most common causes include:

  • Abnormal bowel conditions (i.e. inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Chronic liver, kidney or pancreatic disease
  • Decreased sun exposure
  • Dietary diseases (i.e. celiac disease)
  • Insufficient diet
  • Some medications

In any situation, when the body is not able to absorb or properly use vitamin D, it may be in a state of deficiency.

Risk Factors

The most common risk factors to vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Age
  • Chronic liver, kidney or pancreatic disease
  • Dark skin
  • Indoor lifestyle 
  • Strict vegan diet
  • Obesity

Understanding the risk factors will provide insight into prevention and treatment plans.  While some risk factors, like aging or skin color, cannot be controlled, some can be managed with lifestyle adjustments.

Diagnosis 

The most common way to diagnose vitamin D deficiency is with a blood test.  Blood tests accurately measure the levels of vitamin D in the blood.  In some cases an x-ray or bone-density scan may be ordered in situations when bone strength is in question.   Our providers can review your health history and with one or more of these tests, accurately diagnose vitamin D deficiency.

foods rich in vitamin D

Treatment

Of course, treatments will vary based on the unique condition of the individual.  However, the most common treatment is prescribing vitamin D supplements.  Other supplements, like calcium and phosphate, may be considered.

The most effective treatment of vitamin D deficiency is prevention.  Lifestyles that include sun exposure and a healthy diet of vitamin D rich foods like fish, eggs, milk and other animal-based foods, will help prevent the deficiency.

In other situations, like that of a chronic disease, the proper treatment of the condition along with supplements will be necessary.

Endocrinology Specialists

The doctors at Rocky Mountain Diabetes Center are endocrinology experts and highly trained to identify and effectively treat vitamin D deficiency.

If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the symptoms or conditions above, call Rocky Mountain Diabetes for an appointment or fill out the form below.

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