Vitamin D deficiency: symptoms and consequences
According to recent studies, the vitamin D level is too low in at least half of all Germans. Particularly affected are older people who rarely go out in the fresh air. They also add that vitamin production in the skin works worse than younger people.
If there is a vitamin D deficiency, not enough calcium can be stored in the bones. This makes the bones soft and flexible. In adults, this condition of bone softening is called osteomalacia. Children may also experience deformities on the skull, spine and legs. This is called rickets. In addition to childhood, a sufficient supply of vitamin D is important, especially in old age, to prevent osteoporosis.
In addition, the body is due to a vitamin D deficiency but also susceptible to infections. It is also thought that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of developing certain diseases, including cancer, autoimmune diseases and cardiovascular disease.
Causes of vitamin D deficiency
Probably the most common cause of vitamin D deficiency is too little sunlight. Today, many people spend little time outdoors. In addition, out of fear of skin cancer in sunshine often sunscreens are used with a high sun protection factor. Even with a sunscreen with SPF 8, however, the vitamin D production goes back by about 95 percent. Therefore, it is advisable to stay outdoors for a few minutes without sunscreen before applying the skin cream. In very strong sunlight, however, you should always use a sunscreen.
The amounts of vitamin D supplied with the food are usually too low to compensate for the vitamin D deficiency due to the lack of sunlight. An alternative, however, are special vitamin D supplements.
Eliminate the vitamin D deficiency
A vitamin D deficiency can be corrected either by the artificial intake of vitamin D via dietary supplements or by spending more time outdoors. Especially in winter, when the sun is shining rarely and with little intensity, it is usually not possible to compensate for vitamin D deficiency naturally. An extended winter walk now and then is not enough to prevent vitamin D deficiency.
In the winter, we live mainly from the vitamin D reserves accumulated in our adipose tissue. Between October and March, these stocks decrease by almost half. Especially in people who already have a low vitamin D level in their blood before the beginning of winter, vitamin D deficiency can occur during the dark season. Therefore, it is important to spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer months to create a vitamin D supply.
Some people think they can fix a vitamin D deficiency by visiting the solarium. But a visit to the solarium is highly controversial among scientists. Because many tanning beds use only UVA light for the irradiation, while for the formation of vitamin D UVB light is needed. Moreover, regular visits to the solarium increase the risk of cancer significantly.
If vitamin D deficiency is controlled by the intake of vitamin D supplements, a doctor should first determine the vitamin D content in the blood. Subsequently, the required dose can be determined exactly. This procedure is particularly important because it can lead to an overdose of vitamin D by the intake of vitamin D supplements - in contrast to the formation of vitamin D by sunlight. Therefore, experts strongly advise against taking vitamin D supplements on their own.
Overdose of vitamin D.
The risk of overdose of vitamin D by natural means is relatively low. Presumably only the 20-fold increased intake of vitamin D has negative effects on our body. As a rule, the achievement of such a dose can only be achieved through improper use of dietary supplements.
However, prolonged intake of vitamin D may result in increased intestinal calcium intake and increased release of calcium from the bones. The result is hypercalcaemia. This means an increased calcium level in the blood, which can bring various health problems from vomiting and diarrhea through muscle weakness to diseases of the digestive tract.
Over the long term, an overdose can also lead to a calcification of the internal organs. This can cause severe damage especially to the kidneys.
Therefore, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends a maximum of 20 micrograms daily as a guideline for an additional intake of vitamin D by dietary supplements. Preparations with a higher dosage are considered medicinal products.