Vitamin D is very important for the body to function normally. It will increase the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which will make the bones stronger. Therefore, in older individuals it will delay the onset of osteoporosis. It will also help prevent many other diseases including multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer. The body can create this vitamin by itself with just a little sunlight, therefore it is said that the primary source for Vitamin D levels in the body is the light from the sun. As opposed to the sun, foods such as cereals, orange juice and milk are accessible and fortified with Vitamin D and can help make up for the amount you don’t receive from light.
Low levels of Vitamin D can be found in all individuals in any age group, including babies and older individuals. Some of the very common signs of low levels of Vitamin D include high blood pressure, diarrhea or constipation, headache, weight gain, joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue, etc. There are many different factors that will contribute to this condition. Below are a few of the most known causes of low levels of Vitamin D in the body.
- Lack of Sunlight Exposure: The inside skin layer is what will product the Vitamin D using light from the sun. If an individual does not get enough exposure to the sun, they may develop a deficiency in Vitamin D. For example, the lacking presence of the sun in some geographical locations similar to the northern hemisphere cause the individuals living there to run into this issue.
- Disorders and Diseases: Those individuals that have lupus and have very sensitive skin are not able to be in the sunlight for very long. They are generally the ones that develop a deficiency in Vitamin D since they prefer to avoid the sun. In diseases such as colitis or Crohn’s disease, the inner lining of the colon and intestine are inflamed which causes them diarrhea, and with this condition very large amounts of the vitamins are excreted and it can lead to lower Vitamin D levels. There are some diseases that have a great impact on the way that the body is able to synthesize Vitamin D. Kidney disorder or liver disorder may lead to one of the conditions. In some very rare occasions, the levels will decrease due to hereditary diseases such as cystic fibrosis which will impair the body’s ability to absorb fat.
- Hyperparathyroidism: This is a disorder in which the body excessively produces the hormone parathyroid within the parathyroid glands, which are the glands that will regulate the amounts of Vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium in the bones and the blood. If an individual is suffering from primary hyperparathyroidism caused by a tumor, the hormone will cause the levels of blood calcium to rise. The body will then lower the amount of Vitamin D to bring down the calcium levels. Those who are suffering from kidney disease could also have a deficiency in their Vitamin D as well as secondary hyperparathyroidism. Kidneys that are failing are not able to convert the Vitamin D the active form known as calcitriol, and they are also not able to flush out the phosphorus. This will affect the levels of calcium, which will then cause secondary hyperparathyroidism.
- Diet That Has A Deficiency In Vitamin D: There are very few types of food that contain natural Vitamin D. Some of the foods that contain this vitamin are cheese, fish oils, egg yolk, fleshy parts of fish and beef liver. Thus, those who are vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of having low Vitamin D levels as a result of their low intake of foods rich in the vitamin. Infants that are breast feeding could also have this issue since the content of Vitamin D in the human milk isn’t very high.
- Dark Skin: The dark skin color is caused by the pigment known as melanin which is created from melanocytes that are found in the top layer of skin. These pigments will hinder the sunlight absorption which decreases the ability of the body to produce healthy Vitamin D levels. Therefore, it is said that those with dark skin could have lower levels of Vitamin D, especially those who are older.
- Old Age: Older individuals might have a deficiency in this vitamin since their very thin, aging skin will need to have more time to make Vitamin D. If they do not get enough sunlight for longer periods of time, the Vitamin D levels will decrease. Bodily functions also begin to slow down as you age. The kidney’s in older individuals are less able to convert Vitamin D to the active form which could further their deficiency.