A vitamin D deficiency may occur if one doesn't get enough exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D (Calciferol) Signs of Deficiency, Overdose, Toxicity

Signs of Vitamin D (Calciferol) Deficiency

Humans have evolved to obtain most of our vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. Before contemporary times, people used to spend much more time, on average, outside in the sunlight. This made vitamin D deficiency a rather rare occurrence.

However, in modern society, we tend to spend far less time outside in sunlight. This has resulted in a general increase in the rate of people suffering from a chronic deficiency of vitamin D. People who have darker skin complexions, and those who live in cooler climates (where sun exposure is limited) are at the highest risk of a deficiency.

There are a number of factors which contribute to an increased risk of a vitamin D deficiency. People at a higher risk for deficiency include:

  • Older people.
  • Those who have darker skin.
  • Individuals who live in regions that have less sunlight. This includes areas that are further from the equator and regions that tend to have more clouds.
  • Those who spend less time outside.
  • Individuals who have issues with absorbing fat from their diet. This can occur with conditions such as Crohn’s disease and liver disease.
  • Obese and overweight people do not properly build up vitamin D stores. Thus, are also at an increased risk of deficiency.
Insufficient exposure to sunlight can lead to a deficiency of vitamin D.

People who live further from the equator and in regions that are more cloudy are at a higher risk of having a vitamin D deficiency.

A deficiency of vitamin D has a number of signs and symptoms, including:

  • A deficiency of vitamin D has been connected with various degenerative diseases.
  • Having a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy could negatively impact the proper development of the fetus.
  • Insufficient vitamin D levels in infants and children could have negative consequences for both their physical and mental development.
  • Suffering from an extreme deficiency for extended periods of time could have numerous negative health consequences. This may include feelings of depression, lowered resistance to infections, and experiencing more pain and inflammation.
  • A deficiency which persists for years could chronically and irreversibly damage one’s health and increase the risk of suffering from a serious degenerative disease.

Because there are limited dietary sources of vitamin D, it is important to get sufficient sun exposure in order to get all the benefits of vitamin D.

Signs of Vitamin D (Calciferol) Overdose and Toxicity

Vitamin D is a toxic compound when taken in excessive quantities. However, for most people, this could only happen through taking extremely large doses of vitamin D through supplementation.

Toxicity caused by exposure to sunlight has never been known to happen. The levels of vitamin D that are obtained from food tend to be minimal. Fortified or enriched foods may contain higher levels, but likely not enough to result in toxic levels.

Therefore, the primary concern regarding overdose or toxicity of vitamin D is by someone ingesting too much through supplements. Evidence indicates that toxic levels for humans start at around 40,000 IU a day. However, this is only if these levels are taken daily for a period of at least three months.

Vitamin D toxicity presents as excessive amounts of calcium in the blood. This is also known as hypercalcemia. The primary signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia include vomiting, nausea, headache, fatigue, dehydration, and lack of appetite.

Tolerable Upper Level of Vitamin D

The National Academy of Sciences has defined the maximum daily intake limit for various nutrients. These are safe amounts that can be safely ingested per day. For vitamin D, the tolerable upper level is:

  • 25 micrograms a day for infants 0–6 months old.
  • 38 micrograms a day for infants 6–12 months old.
  • 63 micrograms a day for children 1-3 years old.
  • 75 micrograms a day for children 4–8 years old.
  • 100 micrograms a day for males and females age 9 and older.
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Creative commons image credits: Stephen McKay | Jamaica Street, Glasgow – geograph.org.uk – 1692093

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