What causes vitamin D deficiency?

Updated: Dec 15, 2020
  • Author: Vin Tangpricha, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Vitamin D deficiency can result from the following:

  • Inadequate exposure to sunlight - This causes a deficiency in cutaneously synthesized vitamin D; adults in nursing homes or health care institutions are at a particularly high risk. [16]

  • Vitamin D malabsorption problems - People who have undergone resection of the small intestine are at risk for this condition; diseases associated with vitamin D malabsorption include celiac sprue, short bowel syndrome, [17] and cystic fibrosis. [18]

  • Minimal amounts of vitamin D in human breast milk - The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vitamin D supplementation starting at age 2 months for infants fed exclusively with breast milk. [19]

  • Medications - Some medications are associated with vitamin D deficiency; drugs such as Dilantin, phenobarbital, and rifampin can induce hepatic p450 enzymes to accelerate the catabolism of vitamin D.

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