Vitamin D, sometimes called as sunshine vitamin, is formed inside our bodies when our skin is exposed to the sun. But unfortunately all of us are not lucky enough to get sufficient amount of the sunrays all through the year, particularly in winter since the sunny days become less common then.
So, it becomes critical for human being to intake vitamin D through food sources or supplements in order to compensate this lack of sun exposure – otherwise this nutrient deficiency can occur. And vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for your body; not getting enough amount of it can put you to the risk of grave health complications – including heart disease, arthritis, joint pains and cancer.
Therefore, it’s important for you to know what causes low vitamin D levels. Read on here for the many reasons that can cause of Vitamin D deficiency in your body.
Note: Persons having less than 20 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL) levels are considered at risk for vitamin D deficiency, and those with levels less than 12 ng/mL indicate they are vitamin D deficient.
Low Vitamin D Causes
Mainly, this nutrient deficiency arises when you do not intake adequate amount of vitamin D or when your body cannot absorb and metabolize vitamin D from the food you eat. The other main causes are:
Limited Exposure To The Sun Light
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight. So, you will more likely to be vitamin D deficient if your skin exposure to sunlight is limited. It could be due to a number of reasons, including when you spend most of your time indoors (so you miss out the sun ray’s), wear long robes & head coverings due to religious reasons, have an occupation that precludes sun exposure or live in northern latitudes.
Even when your body does have some exposure to the sun, the total amount of vitamin D your body makes can be pared down due to many factors such as the time of day, high latitude, ozone amount, season and clouds density in the sky.
A majority of the adults work indoors and wear more clothing all through the workweek, thus that is a likely cause for vitamin D deficiency in adults.
“Less Is More”: You should aim for short regular exposure to the sun rather than extended exposure. This is an important fact that you should know about using the sun for vitamin D production. It’s much better to have short regular exposures to the sun rather than having prolonged exposure for many reasons.
Caution: By staying in the sun for prolonged periods, you actually restrict the process of producing vitamin D and really get less vitamin D. You also have much more chances of burning and damaging your skin with longer exposures.
Consuming Diet Deficient In Vitamin D
After the sunlight, the other most effective natural source of vitamin D is food such as fish & fish oils, eggs yolks, beef liver, and fortified dairy & grain products.
That is the reason why the people who have milk allergy or follow a strict vegan diet are more likely to be vitamin D deficient.
Darker Skin Limits Vitamin D Production From Sunlight
Dark skin has more melanin pigment, which reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from the sunlight exposure by almost 90%. This happens because of the reason that the skin pigment works as a natural sunscreen, therefore greater the pigment your skin has, the more sun exposure it will need to produce sufficient amount of vitamin D.
Dark skinned people need at least 4-5 times more sun exposures to produce the same amount of vitamin D as an individual with white skin tone.
Some studies have also supported this fact and shown that older adults having darker skin are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Over-Weight And Obese Individuals Are More Likely To Suffer From Vitamin D Deficiency
A review and analysis of 23 research studies revealed that obese subjects had 35% higher rates of vitamin D deficiency than normal weight subjects & 24% higher rates than overweight subjects.
Vitamin D is removed from the blood by fat cells, stopping it from getting into the circulation (Source). People having a body mass index of 30 or more need larger amount of this nutrient than the slimmer persons, and thus are often vitamin D deficient.
With Age Ability To Absorb Vitamin D Declines
There are some reasons that explain causes of vitamin D deficiency in older adults.
One is that older people tend to spend more time indoors, reducing their opportunity for adequate sun exposure.
Number two, even when older adults do catch some sunrays, their skin do not make as much amount of vitamin D as that of the younger ones.
And number three, after age 50 the kidneys’ ability to convert vitamin D to its active form gets impaired, which enhances the risk for vitamin D deficiency for the seniors.
Malabsorption – Not Absorbing Sufficient Vitamin D From Food
I have seen individuals who eat plenty of vitamin D food sources, but still suffer this nutrient deficiency. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, and certain medical problems can affect your digestive tract’s ability to absorb fat. Such medical problems include Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
There are some causes for this nutrient deficiency such as sluggish liver lacking in ability to transform vitamin D in to its active form in your body, taking certain medicines that affects the body’s capability to convert or absorb vitamin D, using large amounts of the sun blockers.
Now that you know reasons for vitamin D deficiency, we will be soon writing other things that you need to know about vitamin D – such as signs which tell you that you are deficient in vitamin D, effects of vitamin D deficiency and best sources of vitamin D, etc.