Unlike most vitamins, vitamin D actually functions like a hormone, and every single cell in your body has a receptor for it.
Your body makes it from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
It’s also found in certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, although it’s very difficult to get enough from diet alone.
The recommended daily intake is usually around 400-800 IU, but many experts say you should get even more than that.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common. It’s estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of the vitamin in their blood.
According to a 2011 study, 41.6% of adults in the US are deficient. This number goes up to 69.2% in Hispanics and 82.1% in African-Americans.
These are common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency:
Having dark skin.
Being overweight or obese.
Not eating much fish or milk.
Living far from the equator where there is little sun year-round.
Always using sunscreen when going out.
People who live near the equator and get frequent sun exposure are less likely to be deficient, because their skin produces enough vitamin D to satisfy the body’s needs.
Most people don’t realize that they are deficient, because the symptoms are generally subtle. You may not notice them easily, even if they are having a significant negative effect on your quality of life.
Here are 8 signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
1. Getting Sick or Infected Often.
One of vitamin D’s most important roles is keeping your immune system strong so you’re able to fight off the viruses and bacteria that cause illness.
It directly interacts with the cells that are responsible for fighting infection.
If you become sick often, especially with colds or the flu, low vitamin D levels may be a contributing factor.
Bottom Line: Vitamin D plays important roles in immune function. One of the most common symptoms of deficiency is an increased risk of illness or infections.
2. Fatigue and Tiredness.
Feeling tired can have many causes and vitamin D deficiency may be one of them.
Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked as a potential cause.
Bottom Line: Excessive fatigue and tiredness may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Taking supplements may help improve energy levels.
3. Bone and Back Pain.
Vitamin D is involved in maintaining bone health through a number of mechanisms. For one, it improves your body’s absorption of calcium.
Bone pain and lower back pain may be signs of inadequate vitamin D levels in the blood.
Bottom Line: Low blood levels of the vitamin may be a cause or contributing factor to bone pain and lower back pain.
A depressed mood may also be a sign of deficiency.
In review studies, researchers have linked vitamin D deficiency to depression, particularly in older adults.
Bottom Line: Depression is associated with low vitamin D levels and some studies have found that supplementing improves mood.
5. Impaired Wound Healing.
Slow healing of wounds after surgery or injury may be a sign that vitamin D levels are too low.
Bottom Line: Inadequate vitamin D levels may lead to poor wound healing following surgery, injury or infection.
6. Bone Loss.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption and bone metabolism.
Many older women who are diagnosed with bone loss believe they need to take more calcium. However, they may be deficient in vitamin D as well.
Low bone mineral density is an indication that calcium and other minerals have been lost from bone. This places older people, especially women, at an increased risk of fractures.
Bottom Line: A diagnosis of low bone mineral density may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Getting enough of this vitamin is important for preserving bone mass as you get older.
7. Hair Loss.
Hair loss is often attributed to stress, which is certainly a common cause.
However, when hair loss is severe, it may be the result of a disease or nutrient deficiency. Female-pattern hair loss has been linked to low vitamin D levels, although there is very little research on this so far.
Bottom Line: Hair loss may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency in female-pattern hair loss or the autoimmune condition alopecia areata.
8. Muscle Pain.
The causes of muscle pain are often difficult to pinpoint.
There is some evidence that vitamin D deficiency may be a potential cause of muscle pain in children and adults.
Bottom Line: There is a link between chronic pain and low blood levels of the vitamin, which may be due to the interaction between the vitamin and pain-sensing nerve cells.
Correcting a Vitamin D Deficiency is Simple.
Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common and most people are unaware of it.
That’s because the symptoms are often subtle and non-specific, meaning that it’s hard to know if they’re caused by low vitamin D levels or something else.
If you think you may have a deficiency, then it’s important that you speak to your doctor and get your blood levels measured.
Fortunately, a vitamin D deficiency is usually easy to fix. You can either increase your sun exposure, eat more vitamin D rich foods or simply take a supplement.
Fixing your deficiency is simple, easy and can have big benefits for your health."
Please note, not all may be suitable for you.
If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.
All the best Jan