Vitamin D Deficiency Bone Growth

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that your body needs in order to absorb calcium and regulate levels of phosphate in your blood. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with a wide array of health problems, from rickets in children to cancers of the breast and prostate.

Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D is crucial for overall health and wellness. Fortunately, many people are able to get enough vitamin D through their exposure to the sun. Others may need to get vitamin D from their diet, or from vitamin D supplements.

What Is Vitamin D?

Your body synthesizes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. You can also get vitamin D from certain foods (such as tuna, eggs, beef liver and fortified milk) and from dietary supplements.

Once inside your body, vitamin D undergoes two transformations. First, your liver turns it into a substance known as calcidiol, and then, in your kidney, into calcitriol. By helping your body absorb calcium, vitamin D helps to promote healthy bone growth. Vitamin D also plays a role in reducing inflammation and immune modulation.

Vitamin D and Metabolism - Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D and Bone Growth

The relationship between vitamin D and bone health has been known for many years. In the 1930s, doctors realized that adding vitamin D to milk could help prevent rickets, which was a serious childhood health problem at the time. Children with rickets have soft and malformed bones. This condition is now very rare among U.S. children.

In order for your body to form strong and healthy bones, you need to get adequate amounts of both calcium and vitamin D. Children who do not get enough vitamin D will have difficulty developing strong bones, and may experience muscle aches and bone pain. Adults whose vitamin D intake is inadequate are more likely to have low bone density and may be at risk for fractures and osteoporosis.

Health Problems Vitamin D Prevents

Many people can get all the vitamin D they need by spending a few minutes outside in direct sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency symptoms are sometimes seen in people with limited sun exposure, dark skin or certain health conditions.

In recent years, medical professionals have realized that vitamin D deficiency may be more common than previously thought. According to the Mayo Clinic, as many as 50 percent of women with osteoporosis have inadequate levels of vitamin D. In addition, there is a growing body of evidence to indicate that vitamin D plays a complex role in human health, and that low levels of vitamin D can have serious health consequences.

In addition to being a major factor in the development rickets in infants and children, and osteomalacia (the adult form of rickets), low vitamin D levels have also been linked to a decreased risk of a number of other conditions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Breast, colon and prostate cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoarthritis.

Research is still being conducted to determine the exact relationship between vitamin D and these other health conditions.

Resources

Mayo Medical Laboratories. (n.d.). Vitamin D testing. Retrieved December 13, 2009, from the Mayo Medical Laboratories website: http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/articles/vitamind/index.html.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2008). Vitamin D testing. Retrieved December 13, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/mediax/articles/hottopics/2009-1b-vitamind/index.html.

MedlinePlus (2008). Rickets. Retrieved December 13, 2009, from the MedlinePlus website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000344.htm.

Merck Home Manual. (n.d.). Vitamin D. Retrieved December 13, 2009, from the Merck website: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec12/ch154/ch154j.html.

National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. (2009). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D. Retrieved December 10, 2009, from the National Institutes of Health website: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp.

National Osteoporosis Foundation. (n.d.). Vitamin D. Retrieved December 10, 2009, from the National Osteoporosis Foundation website: http://www.nof.org/prevention/vitaminD.htm.