Vitamin Deficiency

Scary Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency

Research published in the journal Nutrition Research reports that roughly 42-percent of American adults have vitamin D deficiency. Dubbed the “sunshine” vitamin, it certainly has a sunny disposition on our general health and wellness. For instance, adequate vitamin D levels protect us from several forms of cancer (i.e., prostate and breast cancers), lower the risk of depression, and ensure strong immunity.

Alternately, vitamin D deficiency—which, according to the journal American Family Physician, is defined as a blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (the major form of this vitamin) less than 12-ng/mL in adults —can leave us exposed to all sorts of scary diseases and illnesses, including early death.

Eight scary effects of vitamin D deficiency…

1. Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

For the sake of your heart, the American College of Cardiology would like you to know that low levels of vitamin D increase your risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) by about 32-percent. Their research also claims a 20-percent increase in other heart-related diseases that impact the heart’s blood vessel system.

On the other hand, researchers at the American College of Cardiology, report that adequate supplementation of vitamin D (at least 600-IU per day) strengthen immunity and reduce immune-related inflammation, which can extend to the heart and increase the overall risk of CAD.

2. Likelihood of Premature Death

A surprising body of research published in the American Journal of Public Health links vitamin D deficiency to early death. For this research, scientists analyzed 32 different studies that correlated low blood levels of vitamin D with early death.

Scientists found that individuals with vitamin D levels lower than 30-ng/mL greatly increased their risk of early death, resulting from exposure to several diseases and illnesses. Whereas, those with vitamin D levels equal to or greater than 30-ng/mL tended to live longer with far less incidence of fatal illnesses or diseases.

3. Higher Incidence of Dementia-Related Disease

A growing body of research, featured in the journal Neurology links low vitamin D levels to a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Shockingly, vitamin D deficiency is considered to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 122-percent.

As research continues in the area of cognitive decline and vitamin D deficiency, studies show that even moderate deficiency in the sunshine vitamin can increase an individual’s risk of developing dementia by 53-percent as compared with those with adequate vitamin D intake.

4. Cancer Survival Chances

Research featured in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism notes that, if you develop cancer, your chances of survival increase depending on vitamin D intake. For instance, cancer patients with high vitamin D levels are considered to have better chances of remaining in cancer remission and of surviving the disease overall as compared with those who have low vitamin D levels.

Scientists claim that cancer patients can increase their rates of survival by up to 4-percent with every 10-point addition to the vitamin D level—particularly for those with colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and lymphoma, who doubled their chances of survival due to adequate vitamin D levels.

5. Lowered Immune Function

There has been a long-established link between vitamin D levels and overall immune health. However, researchers at the University of Eastern Finland take the science that much further by solidifying a link between low vitamin D levels and pneumonia.

Researchers claim that vitamin D deficiency increases the likelihood of developing pneumonia by 2.5-times, due to weakened immunity. The same study suggests that low levels of vitamin D also increase the risk of other forms of respiratory illness.

6. Higher Risk Depression Response

Akin to lowered immunity, vitamin D deficiency has long been linked to depression. A study published by the British Journal of Psychiatry reports that inadequate levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream will double the chances of a depression diagnosis.

After monitoring more than 31,000 study subjects, researchers noted a drastic loss of function in the hippocampus area of the brain (which harbors vitamin D receptors and helps regulate mood) due to low vitamin D levels compared to study participants with adequate vitamin D levels.

7. Higher Levels of Pain and Inflammation

Research published in the Journal of Arthritis Care & Research found that low levels of vitamin D in the blood elicit an inflammatory response, wherein the immune system strikes painfully at the joints.

In particular, roughly 30-percent of patients who suffer from vitamin D deficiency are also prone to a condition known as psoriatic arthritis. Likewise, the same research found that 62-percent of psoriatic arthritis sufferers are vitamin D deficient, which explains the severity of inflammation due to a rise of white blood cells within the body.

8. Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer

The National Cancer Institute considers patients with higher levels of vitamin D in the blood as less likely to develop prostate cancer (in addition to colorectal, breast, and pancreatic cancers). However, the chances of prostate cancer are considered up to 5-times greater if vitamin D levels are low in men.

The research connecting vitamin D deficiency and prostate cancer is still underway. However, scientists are developing a screening method to measure vitamin D deficiency in hopes that it will help with early diagnosis of prostate cancer in men.


Dr. Gerald Morris

Gerald Morris, MD is a physician (Family Medicine/Internal Medicine) with over 20 years expertise in the medical arena. Dr. Morris has spent time as a clinician, clinical research coordinator/manager, medical writer, and instructor. He is a proponent of patient education as a tool in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic medical conditions. Hence, his contribution to articles on Activebeat.