Deficiency in vitamin D can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common cause is a lack of exposure to sunlight. Other causes include obesity and malabsorption disorders.
People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency than those who are thin. Vitamin D deficiency can also increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
A vitamin D deficiency can occur because the skin does not produce enough of the vitamin. People with dark skin have less ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight. A simple blood test can be used to determine vitamin D levels.
People who have rickets or osteomalacia, bone abnormalities, are at higher risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. Infants with rickets are slow to sit or crawl. Symptoms include a soft skull and abnormal bone growth.
Some people with rickets may be able to treat their condition with vitamin D. If you have any of the signs of vitamin D deficiency, you should contact your healthcare provider.
People who spend a lot of time indoors may not get enough exposure to sunlight. People who live in northern regions have less exposure to sunlight during the winter months. The amount of vitamin D produced during the winter months is also lower.
People who are breastfed are also at risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. Because breast milk contains only a small amount of vitamin D, mothers should consider giving their infants vitamin D supplements.