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Vitamin D deficiency is a condition where your body lacks sufficient vitamin D for optimal health.
In Australia, more than one-third of adults experience varying degrees of vitamin D deficiency.
The Australian government sets recommended daily intakes for all vitamins. For vitamin D, the guidelines suggest 5μg (micrograms) daily for individuals from infancy to 50 years, 10μg for those aged 51-70, and 15μg for those over 70 years old.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
Are You at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency?
High-Risk Groups for Vitamin D Deficiency
- Older individuals or those in care facilities like hospitals or aged-care homes
- Individuals who spend most of their time indoors or have limited mobility
- People with gastrointestinal diseases
- Individuals on certain medications, such as epilepsy treatments
- Those who cover their skin for religious or cultural reasons
- Individuals with darker skin
- Pregnant individuals
- Postmenopausal individuals
Seasonal variations also influence vitamin D deficiency risk, with more outdoor time in warmer months and less in winter.
Impacts of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption. Babies with low calcium can experience seizures, and children with severe vitamin D deficiency may develop rickets, characterized by bone and muscle pain due to soft bones.
Older adults lacking vitamin D face higher risks of bone fractures due to low calcium levels and a weaker immune system. Long-term deficiency can lead to conditions like osteoporosis or osteomalacia (soft bones in adolescents or adults, akin to rickets).
Excess Vitamin D and Its Effects
Sun-derived vitamin D doesn’t cause toxicity, but excessive UV radiation exposure significantly raises skin cancer risk. Sunscreen use does not result in vitamin D deficiency.
However, chronic high intake of vitamin D supplements can lead to vitamin D toxicity, primarily manifesting as hypercalcemia (excessive calcium in the blood), with symptoms like nausea, dehydration, and constipation.
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