Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
Deficiency of Vitamin D can cause rickets in young children, osteoporosis and osteomalacia in adults.
A pot belly and beaching of ribs (the rachitic rosary) may pass unnoticed in a plump yet malnourished baby. Deficiency occurs in 3rd or 4th month of life. The structure of the head will be larger than normal with a square shape, and bulging on the sides and front – pigeon chest, enlarged wrists and ankles.
Rickets leads to soft bones and skeletal deformities. Ricketic bones cannot withstand ordinary stresses and strains, resulting in the appearance of bow legs, knock-knees, pigeon breast, and frontal bossing of the skull. Rickets is rarely completely cured and stature remains short in these individuals. Traditional victims of rickets are poor children in industrialized cities where exposure to sunlight is limited. Black children are at greater risk than white because increased skin pigment (melanin) shields the 7 dehydrocholesterol from the sunlight. It is the second most common nutritional disorder in China.
Osteomalacia (Soft Bones)
Vit. D deficiency in adults results in osteomalacia a condition characterized by pronounced softening of bones which leads to deformities, especially of the limbs, spine, thorax, and pelvis. Symptoms include Rheumatic type pain and general weakness, waddling gait, facial twitching. Although it is seen occasionally in men it is most common in women of childbearing age depleted of calcium because of multiple pregnancies or inadequate diet or heavily clothed women who have little exposure to the sun, such as Muslim women who practice purdah.
Osteoporosis (Porous Brittle Bones)
is most often associated with inadequate calcium intakes, but insufficient vitamin D contributes to osteoporosis by reducing calcium absorption. Although rickets and osteomalacia are extreme examples of the effects of vitamin D deficiency, osteoporosis is an example of a long-term effect of calcium and vitamin D insufficiency. Adequate storage levels of vitamin D maintain bone strength and might help prevent osteoporosis in older adults, non-ambulatory individuals who have difficulty exercising, postmenopausal women, and individuals on chronic steroid therapy.
Most supplementation trials of the effects of vitamin D on bone health also include calcium, so it is difficult to isolate the effects of each nutrient. Among postmenopausal women and older men, supplements of both vitamin D and calcium result in small increases in bone mineral density throughout the skeleton. Women should consult their healthcare providers about their needs for vitamin D (and calcium) as part of an overall plan to prevent or treat osteoporosis.
Care can be taken to keep Vitamin D deficiency symptoms at bay by supplying the body with Vitamin D sources.