May 18, 2024

Symptoms, causes and how to prevent them

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: The body itself produces 80 to 90 percent of the required amount of the vitamin once sunlight hits the skin. The so-called UVB light radiation is particularly important.

Causes of vitamin D deficiency

For the body to make enough vitamin D, enough sunlight must reach the skin. So a deficiency can easily arise if people spend too little time outdoors during the day – for example if work and leisure activities take place mostly indoors.

Elderly people are also often affected by vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D production in the skin decreases with age. It’s still about 25 percent for people over 65. Many seniors also spend less time outdoors during the day.

Children are also more likely to develop a deficiency because they especially need vitamin D as their bodies grow. Children have a special situation: their bodies cannot yet produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D itself. For this reason, experts recommend balancing vitamin D requirements in babies in the first year of life with nutritional supplements and thus preventing deficiency.

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

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

In addition, poor dental formation, decreased immune function and underdeveloped muscles can also be a result of vitamin D deficiency in children.

If adults suffer from vitamin D deficiency, various bone diseases can follow: osteomalacia, which can lead to softening of the bones and skeletal deformities, or osteoporosis. The latter disease is manifested by bone loss, in which the bones become porous and brittle, especially in the elderly.

In the event of a persistent deficiency, these symptoms can also occur:

  • Increased risk of bone fractures
  • Bone pain
  • Bone deformities (eg of the ribs, legs, spine)
  • Lubricate the occiput
  • Fontanelles in young children close more slowly
  • Decreased muscle strength and muscle weakness
  • more frequent infections

Prevent vitamin D deficiency

To avoid vitamin D deficiency, fair-skinned people should expose their faces and parts of their arms and legs to the sun for 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 blocks UV rays.

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