We all have days when we fell utterly exhausted or sometimes a little down in the dumps, but if you find yourself continually catching a cold, feeling depressed more often than not and even losing your hair, you might have a vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is a unique vitamin. Unlike all the others, vitamin D functions as hormones do and your body produces it from cholesterol. You can get it from food, like other vitamins, but your body also produces it when you spend time in the Sun.
Unfortunately, 40% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D, and 15% of the world’s population is deficient. This shocking prevalence is due to many factors.
First of all, most people aren’t getting enough vitamin D in their diet because of unhealthy eating habits, and also because people spend more times indoors nowadays and whenever they do go outside, they slather on the sunscreen.
There’s nothing wrong protecting yourself from getting skin cancer, but there is a delicate balance when it comes to sun exposure. We do need it, but just not too much of it.
What are some signs of vitamin D deficiency?
The signs of vitamin D deficiency are quite subtle, so you might not even notice them until you’ve already done some real damage.
1. You get sick often
Vitamin D plays one of the essential roles in your body, keeping your immune system healthy. If you have enough of this vitamin, your system can effectively fight off infections and viruses that make you sick. In recent years have been several extended studies that have found a connection between vitamin D deficiency and diseases of the respiratory tract, such as bronchitis, pneumonia and the common cold.
2. You constantly feel tired
Many different things can cause fatigue, but vitamin D deficiency is undoubtedly one of them. There was a case involving one woman who suffered from headaches and chronic fatigue. When she had her blood tested, doctors saw that the level of vitamin D in her body was 5.9 nanograms per milliliter (or NG/ML). That’s extremely low since a healthy person typically has no less than 20 nanograms per milliliter. The woman was prescribed the vitamin D supplement and after a while, her levels increased to as much as 39 nanograms per milliliter and her tiredness and headaches become a thing of the past.
3. You suffer from a chronic backache and pain in your bones
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is very crucial for your bone health. Pain in your bones as well as in your back may indicate that you’re low on vitamin D. In one study on over 9000 older women that suffered from chronic, sometimes even debilitating life halting back pain, researchers discovered that their problem was due to a vitamin D deficiency.
A similar study found that people with low vitamin D levels were two times more likely to suffer from bone pain in their ribs, legs, and joints.
4. You suffer from bone loss
Not getting enough vitamin D can also lead to bone loss. Vitamin D helps your bones absorb calcium, which makes them strong. People who suffer from bone loss, usually believe that their bodies aren’t getting enough calcium but with vitamin D deficiency may be a problem as well. In a 2015 study, published in the Journal of midlife health, researches found a connection between low vitamin D levels and bone loss in the 1100 menopausal and postmenopausal women that participated in the study.
5. You have skin problems
One of the many consequences of a weakened immune system is that your skin cells may start producing more oil. This can lead to clogged pores and acne. Another skin problem that can result from a shortage of vitamin D in your system is psoriasis, which is a thick layer of dry skin cells that cover some part of your body. In many cases as soon as people suffering from these issues, by increase their vitamin D levels, their conditions improve.
6. You have problems with excess weight
Studies have shown that people who have enough vitamin D, lose weight more efficiently, and those who lack it, find it not only harder to get rid of extra pounds but also easier to put them on. That’s because vitamin D acts like a hormone that affects other hormones, including the ones that are responsible for appetite and body fat storage.
7. Your wounds are healing too slowly
Vitamin D boosts the production of unique compounds that are vital for the wound healing process. These compounds are responsible for forming new skin. Vitamin D also plays a role in fighting infection and controlling inflammation, and both are crucial for proper healing. In a 2012 study on vitamin D skin repair, patients with leg ulcers saw a 28% decrease in the size of their ulcer after taking a course of vitamin D supplements.
8. You have depression
Depression can be brought on by tons of different factors, but vitamin D deficiency can’t be ruled out, especially for older adults. 65% of studies on the topic have found a connection between depression and low levels of vitamin D. In most cases taking vitamin D supplements helped improve the condition.
9. You suffer from muscle pains
In 2014, researchers at Bern University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland, found that 71% of those who suffer from chronic muscle pain, have a shortage of vitamin D. The thing is that vitamin D receptors are present in your nerve cells, which as you may know, are the things that sense pain. The less vitamin D there is in the body, the more pain a person feels. It’s interesting and encouraging that taking high doses of vitamin D supplements will likely decrease different kinds of pain in vitamin D deficient people. In a 2015 study, involving 120 children with both growing pains and vitamin D deficiency, researches saw a 60% decrease of pain intensity after the participants took just a single dose of this vitamin.
Which groups of people have a higher risk of deficiency?
People who are more prone to or a high risk of developing deficiency, include:
- Adults aged 55 and older.
- Office workers who spend most of their time indoors.
- People with darker skin.
- Those who have inflammatory bowel disease.
- People who exclude fish or dairy products from their diet.
- People who have a high percentage of body fat.
- Those who live far from the equator and don’t get enough sunlight throughout the year.
- Those who overuse sunscreen.
If you belong to any of these groups, be sure to see your doctor and have your vitamin D levels checked regularly.
If you lack this vitamin but you’re not aware, or perhaps you know about it, but you don’t care to remedy the situation, it will progress and can lead to some nasty health problems including:
- Soft bones in children and misshapen bones in adults.
- Different types of cancer, like prostate, breast, or colon cancer.
- Cardiovascular, autoimmune, or neuromuscular diseases.
- Chronic pain.
Which foods are rich in vitamin D?
Besides getting enough Sun and taking vitamin supplements, you can also get it from the following products:
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, as well as herring and sardines.
- Cod liver oil contains a whopping 450 iU of vitamin D in just a teaspoon.
- Canned tuna will provide you with not only with vitamin D but also vitamin K and niacin.
- Oysters are low in calories and rich in nutrients, including vitamin D.
- Shrimp contains both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Mushrooms synthesize vitamin D when they-re exposed to UV light.