It is extremely difficult to get the required amount of vitamin D from your diet alone, making Vitamin D one of the most common vitamin deficiencies. This vitamin is required for the functioning of various systems in the body and is different from other vitamins given that it functions as a hormone, and every cell in the body has receptors for it.
When exposed to sunlight, our body makes cholesterol under the skin using vitamin D (acquired from the sunlight). Although there are many sources of vitamin D like fortified dairy products and fatty fish, it is quite challenging to get the right quantity of this necessary vitamin from just your diet.
How much vitamin D you really need is highly debated. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been 400-800 IU, but many experts say that this amount is too low and more should be consumed. The debate around the RDA of vitamin D is either a result or a cause of the commonness of vitamin D deficiencies, which are estimated to affect about a billion people worldwide. However, people who live near the equator are less likely to be vitamin D deficient as they are more frequently exposed to the sun.
The symptoms are generally subtle and therefore go unnoticed in most people. Signs and symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency that you could be ignoring are:
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency:
1. You Get Sick Often
The reason why a vitamin D deficiency in many people goes unnoticed is that most people don’t know the functions or symptoms of vitamin D.
Most of us know that vitamin D is required for healthy bones and teeth but how many of us know that vitamin D is also required for a healthy immune system? You or someone around you may be getting sick way too often, but you wouldn’t for once think that you could be vitamin D deficient. Keeping your immune system healthy and strong is one of the key roles that vitamin D plays. No wonder sitting in the sunlight feels awesome when we’re sick! This could also be because of the heat, but you can’t rule out the production of vitamin D under your skin as a reason.
Vitamin D is known to directly interact with the cells of the immune system that keep you at bay from infections. Research suggests that vitamin D supplements can also reduce your risk of respiratory tract infections. Vitamin D deficient people with respiratory diseases like COPD may also benefit from taking vitamin D supplements, but this remedy only works in people who are deficient, not otherwise.
2. You are Frequently Tired or Fatigued
Frequent fatigue may be caused by a variety of factors – a vitamin D deficiency could definitely be one of them. Low blood vitamin D levels have been linked to fatigue that has severe effects on the quality of life.
Even though extremely low vitamin D levels (below 20 ng/ml) can cause very severe symptoms of fatigue, the symptoms seem to be inversely related to the levels of vitamin D. A study that looked at the relationship between fatigue and vitamin D levels in young women found that more women with levels lower than 20 ng/ml or between 21-29 ng/ml complained of fatigue than those with levels over 30ng/ml.
3. Your Wounds Take Time to Heal
If wounds take more time to heal than they should, a vitamin D deficiency could be the reason. Research suggests that the vitamin is important for the production of compounds critical for forming new skin.
Studies have shown that patients with diabetic foot infections had higher levels of inflammatory marker proteins as a result of a vitamin D deficiency, which jeopardized healing.
Unfortunately, very few results on the effects of vitamin D supplements on wound healing in vitamin D deficient people has been recorded. More research is required to conclude if supplements can help as much as the natural sources of the vitamin can.
4. You are experiencing weak bones and bone loss
How many times have you thought that you could be vitamin D deficient and not calcium deficient when encountering a bone-related problem?
Calcium is very important for bone growth, development and metabolism. But vitamin D is required to absorb that calcium, which basically means if you’re intaking a lot of calcium but very little vitamin D, t’s as good as taking none.
Bone loss and low bone mineral density are indications that your bones have lost calcium and other minerals. This increases the risk for fractures even on low impact accidents or incidents. Research has found that there is a strong link between low vitamin D levels and low bone mineral density.
There is also evidence that supplements may not be suitable to improve bone mineral density. Therefore you must keep your vitamin D levels in adequate amounts to maintain your bone mass and bone mineral density and to reduce the risk of fractures.
5. You Have Muscle Pain
What does vitamin D have to do with muscles? A lot. There is evidence that vitamin D deficiency could be a potential cause of muscle pain in both adults and children. One study also found that 71 percent of people with chronic pain were vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D receptors are present in pain-sensing nerve cells called nociceptors. A study in rats showed that vitamin D deficiency led to pain and sensitivity because of the stimulation of nociceptors in muscles.
Vitamin D supplements can help reduce your pain if you are deficient.
6. You Have Bone and Back Pain
Just like vitamin D is important in keeping your bones healthy, and affects our body’s ability to sense and manage pain, its deficiency may cause bone and back pain. Large observational studies have found an evident relationship between vitamin D deficiency and chronic lower back pain.
7. You Are Depressed
No one, absolutely no one would think that their depression could be the result of a vitamin D deficiency. There’s evidence that links vitamin D deficiency with depression. 65 percent of observational studies found a relationship between depression and low vitamin D levels, however most of the scientific studies didn’t show a link between the two.
Some studies have also shown that those who experience depressed moods, and even seasonal depression can be treated by an increased vitamin D intake.
8. You are Experiencing Hair Loss
Who knew hair loss could be a result of not getting enough sun! Hair loss is usually attributed to stress and genetics, and in women has often been linked to low vitamin D, but there is very little research to support this.
An autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata is characterized by severe hair loss from different parts of the body, including the head. This disease is associated with rickets, which is a deficiency disease of vitamin D. And therefore, low vitamin D levels may be a contributing factor to the development of the disease.
Studies also show that topical application of a synthetic form of vitamin D could successfully treat hair loss in young boys with defective vitamin D receptors.