Though our bodies can produce sufficient vitamin D after exposure to sunlight, one in eight people suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Additionally, given its involvement in several metabolic pathways and functions, there are several ways vitamin D deficiency could show up.
Wondering what diseases might be linked to low levels of the vitamin?
Here are 7 diseases commonly associated with low levels of vitamin D
It’s common knowledge that eczema worsens during winters due to cold, dry weather, coupled with little sunshine. However, did you know, according to a study from 2011, people with vitamin D deficiency had more severe atopic dermatitis symptoms, a type of eczema. More recently, a double-blind, randomized, parallel, placebo-controlled trial revealed that vitamin D supplementation reduces the symptoms of severe atopic dermatitis in children. In fact, vitamin D pills are widely used as supplements during eczema treatment. All of this points to a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and eczema.
Vitamin D plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy immune system and warding off diseases, and even ensuring the protection of the urinary epithelium. To that, a study found low levels of vitamin D was a risk factor for urinary tract infections. An unrelated research paper also revealed that women who had recurring UTIs were more likely to be vitamin D deficient.
There’s some evidence that depression may be caused due to a lack of the sunshine vitamin. For instance, a small study that looked at female college students revealed those with lower vitamin D levels showed more significant signs of depression, and a larger metanalysis found a similar correlation too. What’s more, smaller independent studies showed improvements in depression symptoms after taking vitamin D supplements. However, more research is required to determine how the vitamin influences the disease.
- Prostate cancer
Although there’s little evidence of vitamin D involved in the progression of prostate cancer, one study found variations in one gene related to vitamin D levels in men with a greater risk of the cancer. Moreover, vitamin D deficiency was also associated with more aggressive prostate tumors. However, there’s some research showing vitamin D supplementation leads to improvement in tumors too.
- Tooth decay in toddlers
Vitamin D plays a significant role in tooth formation and maintenance of dental health. So, pregnant women should take enough supplements under a physician’s guidance to ensure their babies are in the best of health. Researchers have found that mothers with a vitamin D deficiency generally had babies with weak enamel, thereby making them more susceptible to tooth decay. What’s more, vitamin D supplementation could help treat it at the early stages.
Vitamin D plays a major role in stimulating new hair follicles. And hence, low levels of it may be linked to hair loss, according to a study conducted on 18-45 year old women. What’s more, low levels of the vitamin are also correlated to an autoimmune condition called alopecia that causes bald patches in the scalp. The good news? Vitamin D supplementation usually brings significant improvement while treating the disease.
The human body is dependent on vitamin D to absorb calcium and promote bone growth and maintenance. In fact, according to reports, over 50% of women undergoing treatment for osteoporosis have low vitamin D levels. In fact, many placebo control trials with vitamin D and calcium supplements showed a significant reduction in fracture incidence too.
Now that you know the common diseases associated with low levels of vitamin sunshine, you can do your bit to prevent it. The first step is determining your level of vitamin D through a blood test. If your reports show vitamin D levels below the normal limit, consult a physician to decide on a supplementation regimen to bring your levels back to normal limits.