Vitamin D deficiency is serious

Recognize and remedy vitamin D deficiency

Status: 02/21/2020 9:09 a.m.
A vitamin D deficiency can be reliably detected with a blood test.

In winter we rarely have the opportunity to soak up the sun. But sunlight is our most important source of vitamin D. At least 30 percent of Germans therefore have too little vitamin D in their blood between October and April. Those who live in northern Germany have no chance of producing enough vitamin D in the winter months due to the lower solar radiation.

Detect vitamin D deficiency with a blood test

Vitamin D values ​​of over 30 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood are considered ideal. Below 20 nanograms one speaks of a deficiency. Experts then recommend taking 1,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D per day, which corresponds to 25 micrograms. They are taken in the form of tablets or drops once a day. Higher dosed preparations with 10,000 or 20,000 IU for weekly consumption are only prescribed in special exceptional cases.

For self-tests from the pharmacy, you send a few drops of blood on a card to a laboratory - and the result comes a few days later by email. However, the measured values ​​can deviate greatly from measurements made by the doctor, so that an excessive dose of vitamin D is recommended.

Those who are healthy do not need to take a vitamin D test, but should take vitamin D daily because the sun's rays in the north in winter are not enough even for healthy people. The chronically ill should take a vitamin D test once in winter.

Vitamin D intake after medical advice

Certain medications such as cortisone, diuretics, sleeping pills and anti-epileptics can increase or impair the effects of vitamin D. Anyone who takes drugs on a long-term basis should therefore definitely discuss the use of vitamin D supplements with their doctor. Even those who suffer from a tendency to the formation of calcium-containing kidney stones, kidney weakness, sarcoid or parathyroid disease should only use vitamin D under medical supervision. During pregnancy, vitamin D supplements may only be taken if there is a proven deficiency and under control of the calcium level, as an increased calcium concentration in the blood can damage the unborn child.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Long-term vitamin D deficiency can have serious consequences. Bone softening (osteomalacia) can occur with:

  • Decrease in bone density
  • Bone pain
  • Disturbances in calcium and phosphate metabolism

In addition, vitamin D deficiency is more likely to:

  • badly healing broken bones
  • Respiratory infections
  • Depression
  • Mood swings

Sunlight critical to vitamin D production

Only 10 to 20 percent of the vitamin D requirement can be covered by the food cover - even with foods that are particularly high in vitamin D, such as eggs, oily fish, dairy products, mushrooms and avocados.

80 to 90 percent of the vitamin D it needs is under the influence of the body Sunlight produce yourself. Under the action of sunlight, the vitamin D precursor cholecalciferol is produced in the skin, which is converted in the liver to 25-OH vitamin D3 (calcidiol) and stored in muscles and adipose tissue. If necessary, this is converted in the kidneys and liver into the hormone calcitriol, which the body needs, among other things, to absorb calcium and phosphate from food in the intestine and build them into the bones.

Risk groups who often suffer from vitamin D deficiency:

  • People who are rarely outdoors, for example the chronically ill and those in need of care
  • Dark-skinned people, as the higher melanin content of their skin shields UV-B radiation more strongly
  • Older people, as the skin's ability to produce vitamin D decreases with age
  • People who, for cultural reasons, only go outside with their bodies completely covered
  • Smoker

Vitamin D: important for the bones

Vitamin D is indisputably of essential importance for bone health. It is required for calcium absorption in the intestines and for building bones, and it also promotes muscle function. If there is a lack of vitamin D, calcium is not stored in the bones, but is released from the bone substance in order to keep the calcium level in the blood constant. If this happens over a long period of time, there is a decrease in bone density.

The mineralization disorder of the bone can make the bone less stable and resilient and fractures occur more quickly. Doctors assume that with an adequate supply of vitamin D, up to 25,000 hip and femoral neck fractures could be avoided every year.

Vitamin D strengthens the immune system

There are vitamin D receptors in almost all organs and tissues in the body, so that this hormone influences the metabolism in many places. Scientists were able to prove that sufficient vitamin D also protects against respiratory infections.

The immune system should also become more stable overall and the tendency towards allergies is reduced in many cases. Because experts assume that vitamin D has a decisive influence on the function and activity of certain immune cells: Vitamin D seems to be responsible for activating T lymphocytes and stimulating them to divide. After contact with a pathogen, they form vitamin D recognition proteins on the cell surface. Contact with the vitamin then leads to a strong increase in T lymphocytes, which help to defend the body against pathogens.

Experts on the subject

Niels Schulz-Ruhtenberg
Specialist in general medicine, sports and nutritional medicine
Am Kaiserkai 46, 20457 Hamburg
(040) 64 66-17 60

Prof. Dr. Ralf Oheim
Specialist in orthopedics, trauma surgery, sports medicine
Senior physician at the Institute for Osteology and Biomechanics
UKE - Center for Experimental Medicine
Lottestrasse 59, 22529 Hamburg
(040) 74 10-562 42

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