Traditionally Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with soft bones leading to skeletal deformities and a medical condition called rickets. This vitamin is essential for strong bones because it helps the body absorb calcium from the diet. Research over the years has also proven that vitamin d is protecting us against a host of other medical conditions and other health problems, there by further increasing its importance.
Some of the deficiency symptoms are Bone pain, Hormone problem and Muscle weakness. Eventually this can lead to cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children, cancer and an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.Vitamin D is better known as the Sunshine Vitamin. It’s the vitamin that our mothers always plagued us about when they forced milk down our throats!!
When our skin is exposed to the sun – our body produces Vitamin D. It also occurs naturally in a few animal based foods like Eggs, Fish, fish liver oils, fortified milk and dairy products etc. As our mothers always reiterated, vitamin D is essential for strong bones and good skeletal growth. Further research suggests that Vitamin D plays a vital role in the prevention and treatment of different medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis. Hence if you are following any strict diets that are deficient in any animal resources including dairy, and you shun the sun, then you are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency. These strict diets may be vegan diets, or milk allergies diet, etc.
Basically Vitamin D deficiency is caused due to :
- Limited exposure to the sun due to –
Living in the northern latitude
Being mostly home bound
Garment restrictions – where the individual is limited to wearing long length garments with full sleeves along with head gear.
- Skin Pigmentation – Those with increased quantity of melanin. The increased presence of this reduces the skins ability to make Vitamin D, in the presence of sunlight.
- Diet – following any strict diets like veganism etc, where any form of animal resources, including dairy and eggs, are limited; can again lead to Vitamin deficiency.
DIAGNOSIS FOR VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
Vitamin D blood test is an expensive test and hence it is not recommended for everybody. But in case the doctor is suspecting a deficiency it is imperative that the blood test is done. Please note that all tests must be prescribed by a doctor and it is very important to consult a doctor before going in for any testing. To understand the tests undertaken it is important to understand in which all organs of the body this vitamin is metabolized. Once the body acquires vitamin D either through ingestions of food or exposure to the sun, it is first metabolized to Vitamin D 25 Hydroxy in the liver. A small amount of it further gets metabolized by hydroxylation in the kidney to Vitamin D 1.25 dihydroxy.
The most accurate way to measure the levels of Vitamin D in your blood is to check the levels what is being produced by the liver. This is the Vitamin 25 hydroxy blood test (where the levels of Vitamin D metabolized by the liver are being tested). Since 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D is the predominant form of vitamin D circulating in majority of the normal population, this particular test is considered to be the most trustworthy index of the Vitamin D status in our body.
A recent consensus of experts indicates that for general health a desirable concentration of 20 nano grams / milliliter to 50 nano grams / milliliter of 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D is adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 nano grams/milliliter would indicate Vitamin D deficiency. A marginally low level of Vitamin D can cause osteoporosis and bone loss.
Hence the measurement of 25 – OH – D is becoming increasingly important in the management of patients with various disorders of calcium metabolism related ot rickets pregnancy hypothyroidism, post menopausal, osteomalacia etc.
To Know more about Vitamin D Deficiency or any other key diagnostic test, do visit Helvetia Diagnostics . As always we welcome your questions comments and suggestions.