What is vitamin D3 deficiency and how can it be treated?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 23, 2016
Ebonyeyes3 asked...

What is vitamin D3 deficiency and how can it be treated?


Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Since Vitamin D is such a hot topic right now, I am going to go into some detail to fully answer your question. Vitamin D encompasses a group of chemicals, of which Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) are the 2 major forms. Vitamin D2 is found in plants, while we make Vitamin D3 in our skin when exposed to sunlight. These two forms of Vitamin D are converted into the "active" form of Vitamin D, known as 1,25 Dihydroxycholecalferol (Calcitriol). Vitamin D deficiency is usually a low blood level of this active form.

Vitamin D is important for bone health, as one of its major jobs in the body is to regulate calcium absorption from the intestines and kidneys. We also know it is important for immune and neuromuscular functions. As more research becomes available, it may show more ways that Vitamin D helps prevent diseases.

Vitamin D deficiency is common, as many people are getting less sun exposure these days. Also, your risk of deficiency becomes higher as you age, which we think is related to changes in kidney function as we get older. Vitamin D deficiency is best treated with Vitamin D supplements, but your primary health care provider should let you know how much to take, as the treatment recommendations are based on age. Generally, for adults older than 50, it is usually between 400 to 600IU daily. For additional help, you can also eat foods high in Vitamin D, which include fish, fish oils, beef, eggs, cheese, mushrooms, and milk. Get some sun exposure on your face, arms, and legs for about 15 to 30 minutes between 10am and 3pm twice a week.