Research has shown that vitamin D is important to the immune system, muscle function, heart health, brain development and mood. Our best source of this vitamin is the sun or “sunshine vitamin”. As skin cancer and UV exposure concerns rise, our time in the sun making vitamin D decreases. Skin must be exposed to the sun without protection to achieve sufficient levels. Unfortunately, there are very few food sources of vitamin D. The foods that do contain the sunshine vitamin usually have small amounts.
Since vitamin D deficiencies are so common, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms. Below I have listed the some of the common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. If you are experiencing any of these issues, see your healthcare provider. He or she can conduct a blood test to determine your levels, and help devise a plan of action for dealing with the deficiency.
FATIGUE – The Vitamin D Council states the symptoms of deficiency are sometimes vague and can include tiredness and general aches and pains. If you’re sleeping well, eating well and exercising but still feel unexplained fatigue, it may be time to get your vitamin D levels tested.
ACHES AND PAINS – Severe deficiency can compromise the integrity of your bones, causing weakness and pain. Patients are often misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, arthritis and other diseases. Chronic pain lasting longer than two weeks may warrant a vitamin D test.
MOOD DISORDERS – Winter blues? Vitamin D may be your sunshine on a cloudy day. A study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychology found vitamin D deficiency was related to lower moods in older adults. Further research has found correlations between low vitamin D and mood disorders, seasonal affectiveness disorder (SAD) and premenstrual syndrome. Our brains have receptors just for the sunshine vitamin. Without the vitamin, our mood hormones may be out of balance. Research has repeatedly confirmed the link between depression and low vitamin D.
DARK SKIN – The darker the skin, the more time you need in the sun to convert sunshine into vitamin D. This is less of a symptom and more of a risk factor. If you have limited sun exposure and dark skin, it is recommended you get your vitamin D levels tested.
OVERWEIGHT – Vitamin D is fat soluble and our fat cells love to soak it up leaving it less available for other functions in our body. Therefore, if you have extra fat cells in your body, you could be at risk of developing a deficiency. Those with a BMI higher than 30 are most at risk. An ideal body mass index is between 18.5 and 24.9. Losing weight can improve your heart health, risk of cancers, stroke and improve your vitamin D levels.
EXCESSIVE SWEATING – If your forehead beads sweat without an increase in activity levels, you maybe vitamin D deficient. While the cause is not clear, it is a classic symptom in everyone from newborns to adults.
BROKEN BONES – Vitamin D is key to helping calcium build strong bones and prevent bone loss. You stop building your bone mass around age 30, and your risk of osteoporosis increases as you get older. Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested a lack of vitamin D can speed up osteoporosis.
Some people may not experience any symptoms at all. The only way to truly tell if you are vitamin D deficient is to get your levels measured. By maintaining healthy vitamin D levels, you can reduce your risk of various diseases and ailments. Recent research suggests that low vitamin D increases your risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer and heart disease. Certain foods like cheese, eggs and fatty fish are excellent sources of the nutrient. You can also include a vitamin D supplement that will give you the vitamin D your body needs that you may not be getting from the foods you eat.
I hope this has been helpful and informative and until next time, stay happy, healthy and beautiful.