Do you feel tired and achy during the winter season or have you been diagnosed with
chronic fatigue syndrome? If yes, you may be suffering from Vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamins as we all know form an important part of our physiology. Thanks to the
researches, the human kind is now more equipped with the knowledge of essential
vitamins, their functions, their symptoms, their sources and their over dosage. Some of the
facts regarding Vitamin D are presented below to help our readers identify any deficiency
and its sources.
Vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin is an important vitamin for the growth of bones. Apart
from bones, its also important in preventing and treating a number of long term health
How does Vitamin D work?
Vitamin D is primarily made in the skin of the human being and is sometimes present in
certain foods. From the skin, this vitamin travels to the liver where it is first converted to
calcidiol and makes itself available to the tissues. Once it is available to the tissues, it is
converted to calcitriol, and this is the activated vitamin D.
Why is Vitamin D needed?
Vitamin D is needed by the body to perform the following functions:
a) To manage calcium in the blood, bones and gut: The calcitriol manufactured by
kidney cells regulates the calcium level in the body. If the calcium present in the body is
lower than what is required, the parathyroid glands will tell the kidney cells to produce
more calcitriol so the level of calcium comes to the desired level. Calcitriol also helps
the body to absorb more calcium if the level of the calcium in the body is high.
b) To help the cells all over the body to communicate properly: Our body functions
on the instructions of the genes. Genes usually express themselves through proteins
and enzymes. One of the functions of Calcitriol is to bind with the receptor cells of the
body and activate certain genes. Thus when the body has enough Vitamin D, there is a
smooth process which allows the cells of the body to communicate properly. However, if
Vitamin D is not enough the process is broken and cells may not communicate
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency:
There are not very clear pattern of symptoms. Infact many people remain asymptomatic
despite low levels. But a few common symptoms are:
b) General muscle pain and weakness
c) Frequent muscle cramps
d) Joint pains
e) Chronic pain
f) Weight gain
g) High blood pressure
h) Restless sleep
j) Poor Concentration
The above mentioned symptoms can be combined or on their own.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to some major bone related diseases like osteoporosis and
osteopenia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout and periodontal
disease. Its deficiency is also known to aggravate high blood pressure, diabetes, psoriasis,
Alzheimerʼs disease, obesity, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome and
Sources of Vitamin D:
a) An important source of Vitamin D is the sunlight. Its important to expose the body to
sunlight for ten to fifteen minutes everyday so that the ultraviolet radiation can activate
the vitamin D in the skin.
b) Vitamin D rich foods are: Salmon, tuna, sole fish are an abundant source of vitamin D.
Eggs, milk and cereals fortified with Vitamin D, mushrooms, especially shiitake
mushrooms, have a significant amount of tuna.
c) Supplements: If one is unable to be in sun for any reason, the supplements for vitamin
D are easily available. It comes in a number of different forms such as tablets and
Who are more prone to Vitamin deficiency?
a) People with darker skin have more melanin which acts as a natural sunscreen and
blocks the ultraviolet B radiation to enter the skin and produce vitamin D.
b) People who spend a lot of time indoors during the day.
c) People who cover their skin all the time.
d) People who live in the the regions where the sunlight hours are few.
e) Older people have thinner skin than younger people and this may mean that they cant
produce as much vitamin D.
f) Pregnant women.
g) People who are over weight.
Recommended Daily Vitamin D supplement
Different organisations have different views on the recommended dose of vitamin D. To
maintain a level of 30-50 ng/ml, its recommend that 2000 IU(international units)to 5000 IU
of Vitamin D to be taken daily.
Although most people take vitamin D supplements without any problems, its possible to
take too much. This is called vitamin D toxicity. It usually happens when a person takes
40000 IU per day for a couple of months or longer. High Vitamin D can cause high levels
of calcium in blood and this condition is called hypercalcemia.
Its always advisable to get oneself tested for any deficiencies, and since the symptoms for
Vitamin D are not too severe or alarming, its always good to get the levels checked once a