Vitamin D deficiency: Causes and symptoms

Vitamin D is important for bones and the immune system. Here you can find out what consequences a deficiency can have and why daylight is so important.

Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin. The reason: 80 to 90 percent of the required amount of the vitamin is produced by the body itself as soon as sunlight hits the skin. The so-called UVB radiation of light is particularly important.

Diet also plays a role in vitamin D supply – albeit a rather small one. Because only a few foods contain vitamin D in significant amounts.

Causes of vitamin D deficiency

In order for the body to be able to produce enough vitamin D, enough sunlight must reach the skin. A deficiency can therefore easily arise if people spend too little time outdoors during the day – for example if work and leisure activities take place mostly indoors.

Older people are also often affected by vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D production in the skin decreases with age. It is still around 25 percent for people over the age of 65. Many older people also spend less time outdoors during the day.

Children are also at higher risk of developing a deficiency because they have a particularly high need for vitamin D as their body is growing. Babies have a special position: their body cannot yet produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D itself. For this reason, experts recommend balancing the vitamin D requirement in babies in the first year of life with food supplements and thus preventing a deficiency.

Another cause of vitamin D deficiency can be a chronic condition that prevents the body from absorbing the vitamin. This is the case with intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease, kidney and liver diseases.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D is particularly important for bone health. Children who are vitamin D deficient can develop rickets. This is a bone disease associated with bone deformities. In Germany, this disease occurs only very rarely.

In addition, poor tooth formation, reduced immune function and underdeveloped muscles can be the result of vitamin D deficiency in children.

If adults suffer from vitamin D deficiency, various bone diseases can follow: osteomalcia, which can lead to softening of the bones and skeletal deformations, or osteoporosis. The latter disease manifests itself in bone loss, in which the bones become porous and brittle, especially in older people.

In the case of a prolonged deficiency, these symptoms can also occur:

increased risk of bone fractures
bone pain
Bone deformities (e.g. on ribs, legs, spine)
softening of the occiput
Fontanelles in young children close more slowly
decreased muscle strength, muscle weakness
more frequent infections
Prevent vitamin D deficiency
To avoid vitamin D deficiency, fair-skinned people should expose their face and parts of their arms and legs to the sun for about five to 25 minutes a day during the summer months. Darker skin types need more sunlight to meet their vitamin D needs because their skin is more blocking of UV rays.

You should also pay attention to the right diet: Oily types of fish such as salmon, herring and tuna, mushrooms or dairy products contain a relatively large amount of vitamin D.

Categories:   General