Hypovitaminosis D

What is Hypovitaminosis D?

Hypovitaminosis D, also known as vitamin D deficiency, is a condition where the body does not have sufficient vitamin D to perform normal metabolic processes. Vitamin D is essential for regulating bone metabolism and regulating the body's metabolism of calcium and phosphorus, which are both important for healthy bones. Low levels of vitamin D can result in weak bones, soft bones, and a higher risk of fractures.

Vitamin D is produced naturally in the skin through exposure to sunlight, so people who do not spend enough time outdoors or wear sunscreen may develop vitamin D deficiency. Certain chronic medical conditions such as liver and kidney disease, as well as certain medications, can also result in decreased production of vitamin D. It is also possible to develop vitamin D deficiency due to an inadequate dietary intake of the vitamin.

Who is at Risk for Hypovitaminosis D?

People at risk for developing vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Darker-skinned individuals, as they may have difficulty producing enough vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure
  • People who spend little time outdoors
  • The elderly, as there is a natural decrease in skin production of vitamin D with age
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, that limit the body's ability to produce and activate vitamin D
  • People who take certain medications, such as antiepileptic drugs, that reduce the absorption of vitamin D
  • People with fat malabsorption syndromes, such as Crohn's disease, that reduce the absorption of dietary fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D

Symptoms of Hypovitaminosis D

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can vary based on severity, but may include:

  • Bone pain or muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Frequent fractures or slow fracture healing
  • Soft bones
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stunted growth in children

Treatment for Hypovitaminosis D

The treatment for vitamin D deficiency will depend on the cause and the severity. Treatment may involve getting more sun exposure, increasing dietary intake of vitamin D-rich foods, and/or taking vitamin D supplements. In more severe cases, such as in people with fat malabsorption syndromes or those taking certain medications, more aggressive treatment with higher doses of vitamin D supplements may be necessary.