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How to know if you have Vitamin D deficiency

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Research shows how important it is to know if you are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency can cause a variety of health problems, found recently in studies. The best way to know if you have a vitamin D deficiency is by asking your doctor for a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. Normal levels of vitamin D in the blood are 30.0 to 74.0 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), but there is ongoing research about optimal levels.


Physical signs of vitamin D deficiency

Unless you have a severe vitamin D deficiency you may now know if you are getting enough of the essential nutrient. The primary sources of vitamin D are sunshine and food – yet few foods have enough vitamin D to keep us optimally healthy. Bone pain and weakness, lack of muscle strength, and impaired growth and development are the most obvious physical signs of low levels of vitamin D. In children, vitamin D deficiency is linked to asthma severity.

Factors that lead to vitamin D deficiency

Lack of sunshine is believed to be a major contributor to low vitamin D levels. Fear of skin cancer, cultural norms that mandate covering of the skin and head, dark skin, working indoors, and living in northern latitudes all contribute to vitamin D deficiency. Dietary factors include not consuming enough vitamin D fortified foods. Strict vegetarians are especially at risk from not eating eggs, fish, and cheese.

Other factors that could indicate you are not getting enough vitamin D include age related kidney dysfunction. Aging kidneys have a decreased ability to convert vitamin D to its active form, putting elders and anyone those with kidney disease at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency.

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Diseases can lead to low vitamin D levels

Cystic fibrosis, Crohns’s disease, and celiac disease inhibit vitamin D absorption, increasing the risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Obesity and vitamin D deficiency

Obesity leads to vitamin D deficiency. Body mass index of 30 and above makes us prone to low levels of vitamin D.

Treating vitamin D deficiency

Speak with your doctor about taking a supplement if you are at risk for vitamin D deficiency from any of the above. Knowing your risk factors, and ensuring vitamin D levels are adequate through blood testing, can help keep your immune system intact, prevent cancer, protect from Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and reduce risk of fractures and heart disease.