Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin essential in the human diet. Together with calcium, this vitamin is needed to maintain healthy bones. However, despite the fact that vitamin D can be easily found in foods, there are still millions of people who are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. According to a study published by Doctor Michael F. Holick in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, thirty to fifty percent of children and adults in the United States are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency. Worldwide, he estimates that over one billion people are at risk for vitamin D deficiency.
So how do you treat vitamin D deficiency? Here we give you a guide.
1. Recognize symptoms first. In order to get treated, you must first be diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, and that is unlikely to happen with you recognizing the symptoms. Unfortunately, the symptoms of this condition are not easily recognizable. In the same study mentioned, Holick concludes that vitamin D deficiency is one of the most commonly unrecognized medical conditions because irregularities or abnormalities in the bone structure are not easily detected by the naked eye. Below are the common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
- Bowed legs and arms in children
- Bone pain
- Muscle weakness
- Waddling walk
2. Get a diagnosis. Just like with any other medical condition, it is important to get a firm diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency before you get treated for it. Diagnosis requires a blood sample and x-ray examination. The blood will be tested for levels of blood plasma 25-hydroxy-vitamin, blood plasma calcium, and blood plasma parathyroid hormone. The x-ray examination will reveal any patterns of irregularities, abnormalities, and a coarse appearance in the bone structure.
3. Start treatment for vitamin D deficiency. The first course of treatment for this condition is to load up on vitamin D. For children, a daily administration of 4,000 IU of oral vitamin D will do the trick, including exposure to healthy sunlight. In three to nine months, any bone abnormalities caused by rickets would disappear.
In adults, the cure for osteomalacia, the term used to vitamin D deficiency in adults, can be treated with daily intake of 2,500 IU of vitamin D for about three months. After this period, levels of blood plasma 25-hydroxy-vitamin, blood plasma calcium, and blood plasma parathyroid hormone should return to their normal values.
However, vitamin D deficiency can still occur even if your diet includes foods that contain vitamin D. How? Sunlight is needed by the body to process vitamin D. So if you live in northern countries where you get little sun exposure, or if you live in sunny countries but are forced to stay inside and covered all the time, then you could be at risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Additionally, both children and adults are advised to consume foods rich in vitamin D. These include milk, cheese, breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin D, pure cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, pudding, beef liver, and eggs.