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Vitamin D Deficiency - Causes, Symptoms, Natural Treatments & Cures



We are confronting a major vitamin D deficiency epidemic. It is now believed that vitamin D deficiency is the most common medical problem in the world, impacting more than one billion individuals, with potentially grave consequences. It is a silent epidemic, because that many people with reduced vitamin D levels remain asymptomatic (no symptoms).

A recent study done across the USA shockingly revealed 7 out of 10 kids have dangerously deficient vitamin D levels which puts them at risk for weak bones, rickets and heart disease.  Data that was analyzed in the study was gathered in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 2001 to 2004.  It conducted a broad based sampling of 6,275 kids from the ages of 1 to 21.  Children with insufficient levels of vitamin D are seriously at risk of developing heart disease as they become adults according to Jared P. Reis, PhD and associates at the Johns Hopkins research center. 

Common Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

General muscle pain and weakness

Tender sternum when you press on it

Muscle cramps

Joint pain

Chronic pain

Weight gain

Restless sleep

Poor concentration


As with any steroid hormones, vitamin D is linked to making many hundreds enzymes and proteins, which are crucial for preserving health and avoiding disease. Practically every tissue and cell in your body has a vitamin D receptor. Vitamin D has the ability to interact with and affect over two thousand genes within the body. It improves muscle strength, develops bone, has anti-inflammatory benefits, and improves the immune system. It assists the action of insulin and has anti-cancer activity. Thus, vitamin D deficiency has been shown to be involved in almost every major disease.

Vitamin D Deficiency Diseases

Osteoporosis (thin, brittle bones that break easily)

Osteopenia (bones that are thinner than normal for your age)

Cancer - seventeen varieties (including breast, prostate, and colon)

Heart disease

High blood pressure


Metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) and diabetes

Autoimmune diseases

Multiple sclerosis

Rheumatoid arthritis

Infertility Depression

Seasonal affective disorder

Alzheimer’s disease


Chronic pain


How To Test for Vitamin D Deficiency

The one test that will diagnose vitamin D deficiency is a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25 OH vitamin D) blood test. Unfortunately, some doctors order the wrong test, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Actually, a common reason for high 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D is a low 25(OH)D or vitamin D deficiency. When doctors see that the 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D is normal or excessive, and tell their patients that they are okay, the patients in many cases are vitamin D deficient. In the event you don’t wish to proceed through your doctor, ZRT Laboratory (zrtlab.com) provides a blood spot test that you may order.

Vitamin D Deficiency Natural Treatment

Vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to contact with ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In reality, this is a very efficient system allowing most of us make approximately 20,000 units of vitamin D after only 20 minutes of summer sunshine without the need of suntan lotion (or clothes!). That’s a hundred times more than the RDA! There must be a very good reason why we make a lot in so little time.

So why are we so afraid to get some sunshine? For about the past twenty-five years, doctors (dermatologists particularly) have demonized sun exposure and consistently told us it is actually bad for us and causes cancer. However in the last few years, many studies have demonstrated that moderate exposure to the sun's rays assists the body in producing the vitamin D needed to keep bones healthful and protect against cancer, which includes cancer of the skin. Talk about a totally free natural remedy! Though repeated sunburns-in kids and very fair skinned people-have been linked to melanoma, there isn't any legitimate scientific proof that moderate sun exposure causes it. We evolved in the sun. We were made to get some sun, not to live our lives indoors and slather on sunscreen whenever we go outside. Sunscreens, even weak ones, almost completely block your body’s capacity to generate vitamin D. Also, you don’t generate vitamin D when seated behind a glass window, whether or not you are inside your car or at home, because the UV rays can’t pass through glass to make vitamin D in your skin. As a general rule, if you aren’t already vitamin D-deficient, about 20 minutes a day of sun in the spring, summer, and fall on your face and arms or legs without sunscreen is adequate. It doesn’t matter which part of the body you expose to the sun. Many individuals wish to shield their face, so don’t put sunscreen on the other revealed parts for those 20 minutes.

Vitamin D Sources

If you live north of 37 degrees latitude (approximately a line drawn horizontally connecting Norfolk, Virginia, to San Francisco, California), sunlight is not sufficient to produce vitamin D in your skin in the winter months, even if you're sitting in the sun's rays in a bathing suit on a warm day in January! The more distant you are from the equator, the longer exposure you'll want to the sun's rays in order to generate vitamin D. You cannot get your requirements easily through your diet because few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Some oily fish like wild salmon. Mackerel, tuna and sardines, sun-dried shiitake mushrooms, and egg yolks are the best sources. Cod liver oil also contains vitamin D, just as fortified milk, orange juice, and cereal. But to get adequate levels of vitamin D, you would have to eat several portions of wild salmon each day or drink 20 cups of fortified milk.

Besides the sun, another reliable way to obtain vitamin D is supplements but utilizing the right amount is crucial. Most physicians have a tendency to under dose. I prefer vitamin D3. For anyone who is vegan, you can use vitamin D2 as an alternative, which (unlike vitamin D3) doesn't come from an animal source. However, it is not as biologically active or as efficient as D3.

How much vitamin D you need varies as we grow older, with body weight, percent of body fat, latitude, skin coloration, season of the year, use of sunblock, individual variation in exposure to the sun and-probably-how sick you are. As a general rule, old people need more than the younger generation. Large people need more than little people, obese people need more than thin people, dark-skinned persons need more than light-skinned people, northern persons require more than southern folks, winter people require more than summer persons, sunblock users need more than sunblock haters, sun-phobes need more than sun worshipers, and sick people may require more than healthy people.

If your vitamin D blood level is over 45ng/ ml and for routine maintenance, I recommend 2,000 to 4,000 IU daily, depending on the factors mentioned previously, once you know them. In other words if you are older, larger, residing in the northern latitudes during winter, are not getting sunshine, and have dark skin, I recommend the larger maintenance dosage.

Should your vitamin D blood level be 30 to 45 ng/ml. I recommend you correct it with 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day for three months with a physician’s supervision and after that recheck your blood levels.

Should your blood level be lower than 30 ng/ml, I recommend you correct it with 10,000 IU of vitamin D a day with a doctor’s supervision after which recheck your blood levels after 3 months. It normally takes at least six months to re-optimize your vitamin D levels if you’re lacking. Once this occurs, you'll be able to reduce the amount towards a maintenance dose of 2,000 to 4,000 lU a day.

It is extremely hard to generate an excessive amount of vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure: One's body will self-regulate and just produce exactly what it needs. Although very rare, it is possible to overdose and become toxic with supplementation. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is consequently saved in one's body for longer time periods. If you’re using 5,000 lU or higher each day. You should have your blood levels checked about every 3 months.

This article was adapted from a piece written by Dr. Frank Lipman, MD. He is the author of Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again and founder of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center. It appears in the book Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr. This is an excellent book on natural diet and health and is highly recommended for reading.

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