Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin D Deficiency : Side Effects, Symptoms and Treatment

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Vitamin D is not truly a vitamin for two reasons. First, our bodies can make it upon exposure to sunlight. Second, in its active form, its is considered to be a hormone. Specifically, it has hormone like effects on mineral absorption, bone mineralization and some secretions.

Until quite recently, we had only hints that there was more to vitamin D than its role in supporting bone health. Now data show that adequate vitamin D is also crucial for prevention and treatment of several common cancers, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cardiovascular disease. It should be no surprise that vitamin D’s effects are so wide-ranging; after all, more than thirty different body tissues contain receptors for calcitriol, the active vitamin D hormone. Along with these discoveries of expanded benefits, researches have found that much higher amounts of vitamin D than the RDIs are needed for optimum health. In this light, it appears the vitamin D deficiency is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States. Many scientists further hypothesize that the unrecognized epidemic of vitamin D deficiency worldwide is a contributing factor of many chronic, debilitating disease.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D Side Effects

Vitamin D has been found to have anti tumor properties. Women with high levels of active vitamin D in their blood have been found to have about one-half the colorectal cancer risk. The side effect of vitamin D on colorectal cancer seems especially strong when combined with calcium in take. Much of the anticancer ability of vitamin D is based on studies that show that the farther people live from the equator, the greater risk they have of dying from breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancer – probably because they are exposed to less sunlight and do not manufacture much vitamin D.

Vitamin D supplements have also been studied as a preventative. Studies show taking vitamin D supplements may cut the risk of pancreatic cancer nearly in half. Since no other environmental or dietary factors except for cigarette smoking have been linked to the disease, this is important information is preventing a type of cancer that has no known cure and very little in the way of treatment.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

In children, rickets is the classic deficiency disease of vitamin D. The symptoms of rickets include stunted growth, delayed tooth development, weakness, softened skull (in infants), and irreversible bone deformities. Rickets had disappeared but is now staging a comeback in the United States; for example, children in the state of Georgia are being hospitalized for rickets due to vitamin D deficiency.

In adults, hypocalicemia (low level of calcium in the bloodstream), osteomalacia (reduction of the mineral content of the bone), and osteoporosis (reduction in total bone mass) are associated with vitamin D deficiencies. Thinning bones that fracture easily – a classic sign of osteoporosis – have recently been recognized as a growing problem in postmenopausal women whose hormone production has changed from its premenopausal state.

Additionally, women with a history of vitamin D deficiency may have irregularities in the pelvic bones, making it difficult to give birth. Calcium and magnesium, as well as other minerals and vitamins, should be taken along with vitamin D for these conditions, as these nutrients all work hand in hand in the body to form and maintain bone mass. In fact, when calcium supplements are taken alone – without vitamin D or other minerals – by postmenopausal women, the rate of bone loss is only slowed. The same is true of estrogen replacement therapy.

The RDI for vitamin D is 400 international unites. In light of the most recent research findings, this amount is clearly too low to prevent even classic deficiency symptoms, let alone reap all the health benefits we’ve just discussed. It is recognized by vitamin D experts that people are not getting enough vitamin D through food and that the RDIs are in fact inadequate to restore blood levels to normal. In a study of bone mineral density, lower extremity function, dental health and risk of falls, fractures, and colorectal cancer, the needed blood concentrations of vitamin D couldn’t be reached using current recommended RDIs . An increase in the currently recommended intake of vitamin D is certainly warranted. An intake for all adults of 1000 IU vitamin D is needed to bring vitamin D concentrations up to optimum. The vitamin D deficiency epidemic is particularly disturbing when you look at killing and crippling diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes. Even recent government survey show that vitamin D deficiency is a major unrecognized epidemic in adult women of childbearing age, meaning women are not getting even the RDI.

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