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Vitamin D deficiency symptoms in women

Updated on October 4, 2013

Vitamin D helps the body in using calcium available in the diet, and thus facilitates the growth of strong bones. Vitamin D deficiency has traditionally been linked to rickets, a condition characterized by underdevelopment of the bone tissues resulting in skeletal defects and soft bones. However, of late it has been found that vitamin D protects the body against many health anomalies.Different studies have pointed out that vitamin D also plays an important role in preventing and treating varied disorders like hypertension, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and intolerance to glucose.

The body manufactures vitamin D as a response to sunlight and hence the vitamin is also referred to as the sunshine vitamin.Individuals who avoid sunlight, stick to a strict vegetarian diet, or have milk allergies may be vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D also naturally occurs in varied foods such as egg yolks, certain fish, fortified grain and dairy products, and fish liver oils.

It is recommended for people aged 1 to 70 years to consume at least 600 International Units of vitamin D on a daily basis, while people older than 70 years require about 800 IUs per day. The maximum safe limit is 4,000 IUs.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency

The presence of muscle weakness and bone pain may indicate vitamin D deficiency. It may also be noted that some individuals may not elicit any symptoms of this condition. Low levels of vitamin D in the blood can result in the following problems:

  • Increased risk to cancers

  • The elderly may experience cognitive impairment

  • Children may develop serious asthma

  • Elevated risk to fatalities via cardiovascular diseases

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms in women

Women experience a wide range of symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency. Some of the signs and symptoms are listed below:

  • Weakness of muscles, bone pain, muscle fatigue, and recurrent fracture are widely observed in women with vitamin D deficiency.

  • Women with vitamin D deficiency are most likely to have a weakened immune system

  • Low vitamin D levels in women are also likely to cause sleep disorders and other anomalies of sleep.

  • Affected women may suffer from a variety of mental and physical problems such as continuous fatigue, inexplicable bouts of depression, mood swings, low energy levels, and decreased levels of concentration.

  • Older women with vitamin D deficits are at increased risk to losing balance and falling down, particularly due to persistent low energy levels. This can then result in serious injuries.

  • Pregnant women suffering from lack of vitamin D may elicit depressive behavior, extreme mood swings, and chronic pain. It is also important for pregnant women to consume adequate quantities of vitamin D for proper growth and development of the fetus. A child who shows increased irritability and suffers from soft bones, fatigue, weakness, and less than normal overall development right from infancy, is mostly likely to have low levels of vitamin D in the blood. It is therefore very important for pregnant women to ensure that their diet does not lack vitamin D.

Causes of vitamin D deficiency

Women and others may suffer from vitamin D deficiency due to the following causes:

  • Limited sunlight exposure: Exposure to sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D. Hence, people who have limited contact with sunlight, such as those living in the northern regions; are homebound; have jobs that does not allow contact with the sunlight; or cover the head and body with long robes and headscarf for religious purposes, are at increased risk to vitamin D deficiency.

  • Diet limitations: Most natural sources of vitamin D come from the animals, such as egg yolks,fish oils and some fishes, cheese, beef liver, and fortified milk. Individuals who adhere to a stick vegetarian diet for many years are less likely to consume the recommended levels of vitamin D and thus at increased risk to vitamin D deficiency.

  • Dark skin: Melanin decreases the capability of skin to produce vitamin D from sunlight. Older people with dark skin are at a greater risk to vitamin D deficiency.

  • Gastronomical diseases: The presence of certain conditions like cystic fibrosis, Crohn's disease, and celiac disease may adversely affect the ability of the intestines to absorb vitamin D from the consumed food.

  • Kidney problems: As adults grow older, their kidneys have decreased ability to turn vitamin D to its active form. This elevates the susceptibility to vitamin D deficiency.

  • Obesity: Fat cells extract vitamin D from the blood and thus alter its composition available in circulation. Individuals with a BMI of 30 or more generally tend to have reduced amounts of vitamin D in their blood.

Treatment of vitamin D deficiency

Individuals with less than 20 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood are said to be suffering from vitamin D deficiency. The optimum levels of vitamin D for a healthy body are also dependent on age and other factors. Hence, it is important to seek medical attention to treat the deficiency.

Doctors will generally recommend altered diets and vitamin D supplements. Increased contact with sunlight is also recommended.

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