Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins in the human body that regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are essential in maintaining bone health. The body manufactures vitamin D from sunlight exposure however a sufficiently large area of the skin must be exposed to the sun to allow the body to manufacture vitamin D. This is usually accomplished through exposing more than 60% of the skin on the face, hands and feet to the sunlight for a sufficient amount of time.
In Arabian regions, traditions and religious beliefs may affect the choice of clothing thus many of the residents of these areas do not get enough vitamin D through sunlight, leading to its deficiency in their body. Although vitamin D is found in foods such as fish and meat, its requirements by the body exceed the vitamin D content of these foods, rendering them an insufficient source of this vitamin. The body needs vitamin D to maintain healthy bones and teeth, as well as optimal functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in multiple cell functions.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Excessive Exposure to Relapses and Diseases
Vitamin D plays an important role in strengthening the immune system. One of the most common symptoms of deficiency is an increased risk of various diseases or infections.
- Fatigue & Stress
Stress and fatigue may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency therefore taking vitamin D supplements may help improve energy levels.
- Bone & Lower Back Pain
Low levels of vitamin D may be a cause or contributing factor to bone pain and lower back pain.
Depression is associated with low levels of vitamin D in the blood. Some studies have found that taking vitamin D pills can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
A diagnosis of osteoporosis may be a sign of a vitamin D deficiency. Getting enough of this vitamin is important for maintaining bone mass with age.
- Hair Loss
Hair loss may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency, especially in women.
- Muscle Pain
There is a link between muscle pain and low levels of vitamin D in the blood, which may be due to an interaction between vitamin D receptors and pain-sensing neurons.
Benefits of Vitamin D
- Vitamin D & Bone Health
Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium phosphate absorption, which builds bones. Consequently, vitamin D deficiency leads to complications such as osteoporosis, an increased risk of fractures and their complications. Vitamin D deficiency also causes bone and joint pain, in addition to fatigue and exhaustion.
- Vitamin D & Parathyroid Glands Dysfunction
Weakness in the parathyroid glands and a decrease in parathyroid hormone secretion, leads to a lack of calcium absorption, which in turn may affect the bone and teeth health. Vitamin D aids in intestinal calcium absorption.
- Vitamin D & Psoriasis
Applying ointments containing Vitamin D along with cortisone containing ointments can help reduce and treat psoriasis symptoms.
- Vitamin D & the Heart
Some research indicates that people with low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of suffering from heart failure, compared to people with higher levels of vitamin D. Some research also shows that taking vitamin D supplements can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Moreover, taking vitamin D supplements might reduce mortality in people with heart disease.
- Vitamin D & Anxiety
Studies have shown that people with low levels of vitamin D are at a higher risk of developing depression, symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and low mood. Through research it was concluded that taking vitamin D pills may alleviate all these symptoms.
- Vitamin D & the Menstrual Cycle
Studies have shown that lack of vitamin D in young women may precipitate menstrual irregularity. Therefore taking supplements such as vitamin D may help regulate menstruation. It has also been shown that taking vitamin D along with other vitamins, such as vitamin B, can prevent PMS symptoms and severe back pain associated with menstruation.
- Vitamin D & Multiple Sclerosis
Studies have shown that patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) taking vitamin D may experience many benefits, including reduced frequency of relapse. Healthy intake of vitamin D may also prevent multiple sclerosis.
- Vitamin D for Babies
Vitamin D is crucial for the development of a child’s immune system and its strength. Breast milk generally contains less vitamin D than needed by the baby. Therefore, it is added to some formula milk products for children.
Side Effects of Vitamin D
- Vitamin D for Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women
Vitamin D is very safe for breastfeeding and pregnant women since it has many benefits. They are also advised to take vitamin D in a dose determined by their doctor and avoid exceeding it.
- Vitamin D for Children
Vitamin D is safe for children of all ages in different doses. Vitamin D helps build and strengthen the immune system during childhood and protects against various diseases including immune diseases.
- Some diseases in which vitamin D is contraindicated and shouldn’t be taken:
- Atherosclerosis: Some studies have shown that taking vitamin D may increase the risk of atherosclerosis in people with this condition.
- High calcium level: Taking vitamin D may increase calcium absorption, leading to increase of calcium levels. This causes major problems, especially for people whose blood calcium concentration is already elevated.
- High parathyroid hormone: This hormone helps in the absorption of calcium and increases its concentration, so it is contraindicated to take vitamin D in such cases.
- Lymphoma: In these cases, vitamin D increases calcium concentration, which may lead to kidney stones.
- Sarcoidosis and tuberculosis: These are two rare pneumonias, which are associated with elevated levels of calcium. Vitamin D should be avoided in these cases to prevent kidney stones.
Drug Interactions of Vitamin D
Aluminum is present in most heartburn/antacid medications. Vitamin D increases the absorption of aluminum by the body. Therefore, it is recommended to take vitamin D two hours before taking such drugs or four hours after taking them.
Calcipotriene increases calcium absorption, just as vitamin D does, so it is contraindicated to take them together. In clinical practice, doctors usually prefer to use vitamin D instead of this drug.
This drug is used in patients with heart disease. It helps in strengthening the heart muscle. However, an increase in the concentration of calcium or intake of vitamin D may increase the efficacy of this medicine, causing heart rhythm disturbances.
- Vitamin D & Antihypertensive Drugs: Diltiazem And Verapamil
Medications containing diltiazem and verapamil are commonly used in hypertensive patients to reduce blood pressure. However, they interfere with vitamin D since they both work by blocking calcium channels, which helps lower blood pressure. Therefore, a doctor must be informed and avoid prescribing them in conjunction with vitamin D.
- Vitamin D & Diuretics
Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium. Diuretics, such as Lasix, increase the level of calcium, which leads to a massive increase of calcium concentration in the blood leading to problems such as kidney stones.
Among the most important diuretics are:
- Chlorothiazide (Diuril)
- Hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL, Esidrix)
- Indapamide (Lozol)
- Metolazone (Zaroxolyn)
- Chlorthalidone (Hygroton)