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Vitamin D Deficiency
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- Inadequate intake of vitamin D in the diet
Lack of sunlight due to:
- Having a darker skin color
- Wearing clothes that cover most of the skin
- Living in northern latitudes during the winter
- Not being exposed to direct sunlight—Sunlight through windows, clothes, or sunscreen-covered skin is not enough for the body to synthesize vitamin D.
- Conditions and procedures that affect the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the digestive tract (such as celiac disease , inflammatory bowel disease , bariatric surgery)
- Conditions or medications that affect the process of converting vitamin D to a form that the body can use, such as:
- Limited sun exposure
- Darker skin color
- Kidney disease
- Restricted activity, such as due to hospitalization
- Injury due to a severe burn
- Malabsorption disorder, such as celiac disease
- Certain types of diets, such as macrobiotic diet
- Liver conditions
- Babies who are breastfed or do not consume enough formula that is fortified with vitamin D
- Bone and muscle pain
- Muscle weakness
- Hip pain
- Difficulty walking, walking up stairs, and getting out of a chair
- Vitamin D supplementation—High doses of vitamin D are given for 6-12 weeks. This is followed by a lower dose of the vitamin. The doses are continued until blood levels return to normal.
- Calcium supplementation—Calcium plus vitamin D supplements may be given to increase D levels. This can also improve bone strength in older women with low vitamin D.
- Light therapy—Exposure to sunlight or UV radiation can increase D levels. Vitamin D3 is produced in the skin when it is exposed to these light sources.
- Eat a healthy diet. Foods are not naturally high in vitamin D. Many foods are enriched with vitamin D, such as milk, juices, and cereal.
- Take a vitamin D supplement if recommended by your doctor. Your baby may need a supplement if he is breastfed or does not consume enough formula that is fortified with vitamin D. Children may also need to take a supplement if they are not getting enough vitamin D in their diets.
- Follow your doctor’s guidelines on getting enough sun exposure.
- If you or a family member has any of the above risk factors, talk to the doctor about other ways to avoid becoming deficient in vitamin D.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014
- Update Date: 12/20/2014