Vitamin D Deficiency Can Happen for Many Reasons

Vitamin D deficiency can be found in all ethnicities and age groups, for a host of reasons. Even if you are taking a standard multiple vitamin, the amount of vitamin D in most vitamins (400 IU) is not enough to prevent deficiency.

What are the chances you are deficient? Some estimates range from 50% in the UK, upwards of 57% in the USA, and higher the farther north or south you get of the 40th Parallel.

A study in the US tracking vitamin D levels showed they dropped 20% from 1994 to 2004, and the number of people who have a clinical (i.e. critical) deficiency of vitamin D tripled. Those who were below minimum RDA levels jumped 50%.

According to one doctor's newsletter I subscribe to: "I test all of my patients, and have been surprised to find that more than 85% come up with a vitamin D deficiency." (note this was issued in 2010.

My daughter, who lives in a sunny part of India is in her 20's, eats a Vegan diet, recently told me she was tested and has a vitamin D deficiency – which she's now treating. Like I said – most people are deficient.

Note: If you suspect you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, you can ask your physician to order a blood test for vitamin D. For more details about this click here.

Vitamin D Deficiency is Most Common Nutritional Deficiency

Dr. Michael F. Holick, a Vitamin D expert at the Boston University School of Medicine, has been quoted as saying that Vitamin D is the most common nutritional deficiency and probably the most common medical problem in the world.

Causes of Vitamin D deficiency in men can happen for many different reasons and can affect men of all ages. Vitamin D deficiency is more common than most men realize. Research shows that more than two thirds of the United States populations’ medical problems are related to Vitamin D deficiency and an unbalanced diet.

The common denominator for disease

What's becoming increasingly clear from all the new research is that vitamin D deficiency may be the common denominator behind our most devastating modern degenerative diseases. Kidney failure patients are almost universally deficient in vitamin D and diabetes patients are usually in the same category. People suffering from cancer almost always demonstrate severe vitamin D deficiency, as do people with osteoporosis and multiple sclerosis.

In fact, vitamin D deficiency may be the root cause behind so many degenerative diseases that correcting this deficiency across the population could very well devastate the for-profit "sick care industry" that dominates western medicine today.

Factors That Increase the Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency

There are a number of factors that increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency. Here is a partial list:

Lifestyle: As we now know, sun exposure was critical for sufficient vitamin D to our ancestors. Until modern times, human beings spent a great deal of time outdoors. The origin of our species was subtropical, meaning we naturally got enough sun exposure to generate vitamin D. But as Homo sapiens migrated to less temperate climes this changed. Over many generations, the shift from a hunter-gatherer to an agrarian-based to an increasingly industrialized society also meant less and less time in the sun.

Today many of us work inside sealed buildings with glazed windows (glass blocks the UVB rays your body needs to produce vitamin D), and we wear sunblock and drive everywhere in cars instead of walking outdoors.

Sunscreen Use: sunblock with an SPF above 15 will completely block the UVB rays necessary for vitamin D conversion (even SPF 8 will block 95%).

Correctly-applied sunscreen blocks the harmful ultraviolet B rays that cause skin cancer, but it also blocks most of the skin’s production of vitamin D. So people who use sunscreen daily are more likely to be vitamin D deficient.

But don’t ditch the sunscreen: The American Academy of Dermatologists says that there’s no safe level of sunlight exposure. However, several well respected doctors argue that the use of sunscreen increases your chances of skin cancer – so who are you going to believe?

Geographic Location and Season: In the summer, if you sat out in a bathing suit on a sunny afternoon for long enough to turn your skin slightly pink, you could make plenty of vitamin D. Yet during the late autumn and winter, people who live at higher latitudes produce little or no vitamin D from the sun, because the sun is at too low an angle in the sky.

In the northern hemisphere, people who live in Boston (U.S.), Edmonton (Canada), and Bergen (Norway) can't make enough vitamin D from the sun for 4, 5, and 6 months out of the year. In the southern hemisphere, residents of Buenos Aires (Brazil) and Cape Town (South Africa) can make far less vitamin D from the sun during their winter months (June through August) than they can during their spring and summer.

The body stores vitamin D from summer sun exposure (in your fat cells), but it must last for many months. By late winter, most people in these higher-latitude locales are deficient.

Skin Tone: People who have a darker skin tone have more melanin in their skin, and this pigment is a “natural sunscreen” that slows down skin production of vitamin D. This the main reason why blacks are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.

Age: The ability to make vitamin D in the skin drops as we age (due to thinning skin and less efficient livers & kidneys), and is one of the reasons why older individuals are more likely to be deficient. Good advice – double up the amount of sun … and use the excuse of boosting your vitamin D levels to justify going someplace sunny during the winter.

Note: Women over 50 are really in short supply because our skin has lost some of the receptors to make Vitamin D.

Body Weight: People with excess body fat have lower vitamin D levels, so those who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of vitamin D-deficiency.

Fat and obese people absorb Vitamin D but it gets trapped in fat cells and cannot easily exit. Researchers have found that overweight people need about twice the Vitamin D as average weight individuals.

You're At Risk if You are Pregnant, breast-fed, Black or Asian

Vitamin D deficiency is a very common problem - more than half of the UK population has insufficient levels of vitamin D. Some people are more at risk of deficiency than others, in particular pregnant women, breast-fed babies and people with black or Asian skin types. Vitamin D supplements can be used in these groups to prevent vitamin D deficiency.

What’s more, evidence from studies tracking the prevalence of disease by geography and nationality shows clear links between vitamin D deficiency and obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease, certain cancers, and depression. Since most of these problems take many years to manifest, vitamin D deficiency has been overlooked by many providers for a very long time.

Even Celebrities Can Be Vitamin D Deficient

Gwyneth Paltrow has revealed to her online fans in September 2010 that she has a severe vitamin D deficiency. "My doctors tested my vitamin D levels which turned out to be the lowest thing they had never seen -- not a good thing," she said earlier this month. She then went on to reveal she is suffering from osteopenia, a thinning of the bones. She has since started taking vitamin D supplements and is starting to do much better.

Learn More About The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is important for good health and long-life. Here are some of the articles we've added to our website to give you a full picture of this important subject. Like other parts of this website these articles summarize the important facts and include useful advice.

Learn to recognize the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, especially in women and children

Testing Your Vitamin D Levels: (know what to ask your doctor, or order a home testing kit)

If Vitamin D Were a Drug It Would Win the Nobel Prize

Benefits of Vitamin D

Getting Vitamin D from Sunshine

Vitamin D from Food

What you need to know when choosing a Vitamin D supplement

Vitamin D Deficiency is linked to 2/3rds of the medical problems in the US along with poor diet

Vitamin D helps prevent 3 out 4 cancers

Vitamin D is Important for Good Heart Health

Vitamin D and Calcium: You Need Them Both

Vitamin D is important for heathy teeth and preventing periodontal disease and weakening of the jawbone

Vitamin D deficiency can cause mobility problems

Vitamin D and anti-aging


The information contained in this section of our web site is for educational purposes and is not intended as medical advice.

While the publishers of this website believe that people have the right to understand their own bodies and to take care of their bodies as they see fit, we also respect the knowledge and experience of trained nutritionists, scientists, researchers, medical practioners, and others who can help you achieve the optimum health you are entitled to, and suggest you seek out and work with health specialists you can trust.

Navigation Tip

Click on the highlighted word to return the top of this section on Vitamin D Deficiency or to the beginning of this section on Vitamin D.