What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency?

vitaminedThere are a variety of factors that can lead to vitamin D deficiency. From inadequate nutrition, and limited sun exposure to a genetic predisposition and non-functioning kidneys. Further, individuals whose digestive systems do not adequately absorb vitamin D are at risk for developing a vitamin D deficiency, as are those individuals who are obese.

Here’s why:

Inadequate Nutrition – Vegetarians and individuals who are allergic to milk and dairy products are at an increased risk for developing a vitamin D deficiency. This is because a vegetarian diet limits foods that are rich in vitamin D, as does having a milk allergy. Foods such as meats, fish, egg yolks, cheese, milk and beef liver contain high concentrations of vitamin D. By choosing not to eat these types of foods, or avoiding them due to an allergy, you are missing out on essential vitamin D intake, thus putting yourself at risk for vitamin D deficiency.

Sunlight – Production of vitamin D is increased when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Individuals who spend little to no time in the sun, or wear long robes and/or head coverings are decreasing their skin’s sun exposure, hence decreasing the body’s production of vitamin D. This is also true for individuals who work or spend a lot of time indoors, missing out on vital sunlight exposure.

Genetic Predispositions – Unfortunately, dark skinned individuals are at an increased risk for developing vitamin D deficiency. This is because melanin in the skin prevents adequate production of vitamin D, even when exposed to adequate amounts of sunlight. Similarly, individuals with light skin who tend to use sunscreen to prevent sunburns and various types of skin cancer are preventing their skin from absorbing the sunlight, again, decreasing vitamin D production.

Kidney Functions – Your kidneys are responsible for converting vitamin D to the active form. As you age, your kidneys lose the ability to convert vitamin D, increasing the likelihood of developing vitamin D deficiency.

Digestive Issues – It is important for your intestines to absorb vitamin D from the foods you eat as they pass through the digestive system. Unfortunately, medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease prevent this from happening, decreasing the amount of vitamin D that stays in your body and increasing a risk for developing vitamin D deficiency.

Obesity – Fat cells extract vitamin D from your blood, altering the path it should be taking during circulation. Individuals who are obese, having a body mass index of more than 30 are less likely to have enough vitamin D in their system, creating a vitamin D deficiency.