Can We Survive Without Vitamin D?

The common consensus on vitamin D in the past was that it only served to protect bones. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are paying more attention than ever before to vitamins and how they might help us stay healthy. So, how vital is the sunshine vitamin? Can we survive without vitamin D?

Remarkably, several recent studies show what happens when vitamin D levels are low. The findings of these studies may alter your perspective on vitamin D.

What Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D for Bone health

Vitamin D is both a vitamin we consume and a hormone produced by our bodies. It's a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus necessary for bone development. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is stored in the body's fatty tissue

Vitamin D affects bone cell activity and is necessary for creating new bones in both children and adults. It is essential for calcium absorption to keep your bones healthy and strong. When vitamin D levels are inadequate, the body can absorb just 10% to 15% of dietary calcium. However, absorption can reach 30% to 40% when vitamin stores are adequate.

Furthermore, Vitamin D is primarily created in the skin in reaction to sunshine. However, you can also get the vitamin from foods consumed in a well-balanced diet. Although some foods are fortified with vitamin D, few foods naturally contain it. Because it is difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet and sunlight, most people opt to take a supplement.

What Is Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is a lack of adequate vitamin D in the body. Deficiencies can occur if a person does not consume enough vitamin D or their skin's ability to manufacture it from the sun is unresponsive . A person can also become deficient if the liver and kidneys cannot absorb the vitamin or convert it to its active form.

If you believe you have a vitamin D deficiency, you may take a few actions to increase your levels. You can begin by improving your sun exposure, consuming vitamin D-rich foods, and taking supplements.

What Health Risks Accompany Low Levels of Vitamin D?

According to a Johns Hopkins study, inadequate levels of vitamin D can raise the chance of mortality by about 26 percent. The researchers looked at about 13000 men and women who were initially healthy and compared the mortality risk between those who had the highest blood levels of vitamin D and those who had lower levels. After twelve years, almost 700 of the 1800 participants died from heart disease, with 400 being vitamin D deficient.

In addition, a recent research linked Vitamin D deficiency with increased length of stay, cost, and mortality in people hospitalized in critical care units in current research.

Low vitamin D levels can cause various issues, particularly in the bones and muscles. For example, insufficient Vitamin D  can cause bone density loss, leading to osteoporosis and broken bones ( fractures ). It can induce rickets and retarded growth in children. Rickets is a rare disorder that causes the bones to weaken and bend. Adults with severe vitamin D deficiency develop osteomalacia. Osteomalacia is characterized by pain and brittle bones, and muscle weakness.

According to a 2014 study, cancer patients who are vitamin D deficient have a more challenging time surviving the disease than those with a higher blood level. Another study found that having adequate vitamin D levels helps prevent cancer.

Researchers are working on finding probable links between vitamin D and various health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. They need more research to understand the impact of vitamin D on these diseases fully.

What Are The Signs of Vitamin D deficiency?

Because the symptoms are typically vague and unspecific, a person may not know they have insufficient levels of vitamin D. Thus, determining if you have a deficiency or other medical problems can be difficult.

A blood test is the most precise approach to determine the amount of vitamin D in your body. Notwithstanding, you should be conscious of the warning signs of insufficient vitamin D.

Signs of low vitamin D levels in adults include:

  • Anxiety
  • Obesity
  • Muscle pain
  • Sweaty Head
  • Dizziness
  • Heart troubles
  • Recurring infections and illnesses
  • Muscle weakness and exhaustion
  • Pain in the bones and joints
  • Slow wound recovery

Vitamin D deficiency in children manifests as the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Joint pains
  • Fractures and bone discomfort
  • Dental malformations
  • Retarded growth
  • Frequent respiratory infections

Who Is At Risk Of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency can result from a variety of factors. People at risk of low blood levels of vitamin D include:

  • Babies that are exclusively breastfed
  • Babies and toddlers who consume non-dairy products and foods not fortified with vitamin D.
  • Seniors or older people.
  • People with darker skin tones.
  • People with low exposure to sunlight, including persons who are confined to their homes.
  • People with trouble absorbing fat from their food because of inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, and cystic fibrosis.
  • People with dietary limitations. For example, those with lactose intolerance or milk allergy, vegans, etc.
  • People with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30.
  • People with kidney disease, including transplant recipients.
  • People who take a class of drugs used to treat inflammation (glucocorticoids).

Conclusion

With the information considered so far, we can conclude that humans cannot survive without vitamin D for long. Also, the quality of life with vitamin D deficiency can only be unpleasant and riddled with pain and illnesses.

Therefore, parents concerned about their children's overall health should keep a closer eye on their blood levels of vitamin D and ensure they have enough.

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References

Ding, J., Kwan, P., Ma, Z., Iwashina, T., Wang, J., Shankowsky, H. A., & Tredget, E. E. (2016). Synergistic effect of vitamin D and low concentration of transforming growth factor beta 1, a potential role in dermal wound healing. Burns : Journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries, 42(6), 1277–1286. Retrieved from:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.burns.2016.03.009

Khazai, N., Judd, S. E., & Tangpricha, V. (2008). Calcium and vitamin D: skeletal and extraskeletal health. Current Rheumatology Reports , 10(2), 110–117. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11926-008-0020-y

Matthews, L. R., Ahmed, Y., Wilson, K. L., Griggs, D. D., & Danner, O. K. (2012). Worsening severity of vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased length of stay, surgical intensive care unit cost, and mortality rate in surgical intensive care unit patients. American Journal of Surgery , 204(1), 37–43. Retrieved from : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjsurg.2011.07.021

Melamed, M. L., Michos, E. D., Post, W., & Astor, B. (2008). -25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of mortality in the general population. Archives of Internal Medicine, 168(15), 1629–1637. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.168.15.1629

Mian Li, Peizhan Chen, Jingquan Li, Ruiai Chu, Dong Xie, Hui Wang,(2014) Review: The Impacts of Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels on Cancer Patient Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 99, Issue 7, 1 July 2014, Pages 2327–2336. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2013-4320

Nair, R., & Maseeh, A. (2012). Vitamin D: The "sunshine" vitamin. Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics , 3(2), 118–126. Retrieved from : https://doi.org/10.4103/0976-500X.95506

Roh, Y. E., Kim, B. R., Choi, W. B., Kim, Y. M., Cho, M. J., Kim, H. Y., Park, K. H., Kim, K. H., Chun, P., Kim, S. Y., & Kwak, M. J. (2016). Vitamin D deficiency in children aged 6 to 12 years: single center's experience in Busan. Annals of Pediatric Endocrinology & Metabolism , 21(3), 149–154. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.6065/apem.2016.21.3.149

Sizar O, Khare S, Goyal A, et al. Vitamin D Deficiency. [Updated 2021 Jul 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532266/?report=classic

Thacher, T. D., & Clarke, B. L. (2011). Vitamin D insufficiency. Mayo Clinic proceedings, 86(1), 50–60. https://doi.org/10.4065/mcp.2010.0567


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