Alert! This is the result if your body is deficient in Vitamin D

The body needs various kinds of nutrients to support its metabolic processes, one of which is vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important nutrient for the health of the human body. Known as the "sunshine vitamin", vitamin D is produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight. Apart from that, this vitamin can also be obtained from certain foods and supplements.

However, vitamin D deficiency has become a common health problem throughout the world, especially in areas that tend to have minimal sunlight. If it is not sufficient, there are several consequences of vitamin D deficiency which will disrupt the body's health. What are the causes and consequences of vitamin D deficiency in the body?

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

Although the human body has the ability to produce vitamin D on its own, there are several factors that can cause vitamin D deficiency, namely

  1. Less exposure to sunlight
    The main cause of vitamin D deficiency is lack of sun exposure. This can occur in individuals who live in areas with little sunlight, especially during winter in polar regions or in people who live in dense urban areas with skyscrapers blocking sunlight. Older people who are indoors more often or people who always wear closed clothing when doing outdoor activities are also more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency.

  2. Insufficient intake of foods rich in vitamin D
    Apart from sun exposure, food intake also plays an important role in providing vitamin D to the body. Some foods that contain vitamin D are fish such as salmon and tuna, egg yolks, milk and processed products that are fortified with vitamin D. Lack of consumption of these foods can cause vitamin D deficiency.

  3. Impaired nutrient absorption
    Impaired absorption of nutrients, as occurs in medical conditions such as celiac disease and Crohn's disease, can interfere with the absorption of vitamin D in the body. This condition causes the intestines to be unable to absorb nutrients efficiently, including vitamin D, even if food intake is adequate.

  4. Excessive weight/obesity
    Excess body weight or obesity can also be a factor that causes vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. People with obesity have more fat tissue, so vitamin D levels will be more concentrated in fat tissue, which causes low serum (blood) vitamin D levels.

Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency

  1. Decreased bone health
    One of the main roles of vitamin D is to help the body absorb calcium. Calcium is an important mineral needed to build and strengthen bones. Vitamin D deficiency can interfere with calcium absorption, thereby increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis or other brittle bone diseases. In children, vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, which causes bones to become weak and break easily.

  2. The risk of heart disease increases
    Research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Vitamin D has a role in maintaining healthy cardiovascular function, including regulating blood pressure and reducing inflammation in blood vessels. Vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.

  3. Decreased immune function
    Vitamin D is also known to have an important role in maintaining immune function. Vitamin D deficiency can weaken the immune system, increase the risk of bacterial and viral infections, and worsen autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

  4. Mood and mental disorders
    Several studies have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Vitamin D has an effect on neurotransmitters in the brain that are associated with mood regulation. Vitamin D deficiency can cause mood swings, fatigue, and a decrease in overall mental well-being.

  5. The risk of autoimmune diseases increases
    Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases, in which the body's immune system attacks the body's own tissues. Examples include lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), and type 1 diabetes. Vitamin D has a role in regulating the body's immune response, and a deficiency of this vitamin can cause the immune system to become hyperactive and attack body tissue.

Vitamin D deficiency is not a common problem. The impact can go beyond just bone health and encompass broader aspects of health, including cardiovascular function, the immune system, and mental well-being. By being aware of the causes of vitamin D deficiency, such as lack of sun exposure, insufficient food intake, impaired nutrient absorption, and obesity, we can take proactive steps to prevent and treat this deficiency.

How much vitamin D is needed per day?

Based on the nutritional adequacy figures (AKG) for Indonesian people, issued by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia in 2019, at least 15 mcg / 600 IU of vitamin D per day is needed for the adult population, which is obtained from food sources of vitamin D and/or supplementation.

Article written by dr. Vetinly, M. Gizi, Sp.GK (Clinical Nutrition Specialist at EMC Alam Sutera Hospital).