Vitamin D Deficiencies
A deficiency in vitamin D is a common occurrence. People living in the northern United States and Canada are prone to be deficient in the vitamin since they have less sun exposure. Older people have fewer "receptors" on their skin, so they don't get as much benefit being in the sun. And in our industrial, blue-collar age, there are fewer people working and playing outside.
Vitamin D deficiency is such a common occurrence that many physicians routinely test for this critical vitamin when performing a physical exam and annual laboratory testing. For example, one study examined 101 patients from the ages of 20 to 88 and 81 percent had low levels of the vitamin. The majority of research indicates that vitamin D deficiency does not cause osteoporosis. The lack of the vitamin may be a contributing factor, but there are many risk factors and potential causes of osteoporosis. Some of these causes such as family history, gender and ethnicity cannot be helped. But others, such as smoking, lack of exercise or excessive alcohol, can be controlled.
However, in this same study by Kota, Jammula, Kota, Meher, and Modi printed in the Indian Journal of Orthopedics in July-August of 2013, the results showed that unless the vitamin D deficiency is severe, people with low to moderate deficiencies were just as apt to have osteoporosis as not.
If vitamin D deficiency isn't a direct cause of low bone mineral density, is it a big deal? The answer is yes, a vitamin D deficiency is a cause of concern even though studies show it is not a cause of osteoporosis. Left untreated, a deficiency in vitamin D can cause a host of issues. Top of the list are rickets and softening of the bones, a condition known as osteomalacia. While some with low vitamin D levels have no symptoms, some experience joint or muscle pain, headaches, diarrhea or constipation, poor concentration, or high blood pressure.
Vitamin D is important to our bodies. Fortunately, vitamin D deficiency is easily treated with over-the-counter supplements. We need to be diligent in getting our level tested in order to maintain good health.