You may have heard of the “Sunshine Vitamin” – Vitamin D. If you are one of the estimated 1 billion people worldwide not getting enough, you may be headed for some serious issues with your health.
According to some studies doctors say that vitamin D deficiency is a global epidemic.
Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to the development of numerous health problems including, obesity, hypertension, breast, prostate, and, colon cancers.
If you become more aware with your own health and nutrition, this can help you avoid health problems as you age.
Here are a few things you need to look out for:
What is Vitamin D?
It’s one of the four fat-soluble vitamins; A,D,E, and K. It is essential for strong bones, because it helps the body regulate calcium and phosphate levels from your diet and daily nutrition. This includes both vitamin D2 and D3.
Most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight. The most abundant levels of vitamin D come from the fatty flesh of tuna, mackerel, and salmon (425 IU in 3 oz salmon), while the lowest amounts come from beef, liver, and, dairy.
Vitamin D fights infections such as the cold and flu. It regulates genes in your body to fight off bacteria and viruses as well. By optimizing your vitamin D levels, your body can help protect you against:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Autoimmune disease
- Infections, including influenza
- DNA repair and metabolic processes
- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
The main causes of vitamin D deficiency are:
- Not consuming the recommended levels of the vitamin over time
- Having dark skin which makes it difficult to absorb vitamin D from the sun
- Exposure to sunlight is somewhat limited
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
The following list of symptoms will help you decide if you are lacking vitamin D from your diet and nutrition:
Pain and Weakness in Muscles
If you are waking up each day with pain or weakness in your muscles, you might consider asking your doctor for a vitamin D test. This could be a sign that you are lacking vitamin D.
So what levels are appropriate…
Vitamin D deficiency is defined when the levels are below 50 ng/mL and at levels of ≤ 50 ng/mL.
A recent study showed that 30% of patients presented proximal muscle weakness with vitamin D deficiency.
Muscle weakness is more common in elderly people, because of the various factors:
- Decreased dietary intake
- Less sunlight exposure
- Reduced skin thickness
The types of pain and muscle weakness I am referring to is feeling heaviness in your legs, tiring easily, along with difficulty mounting stairs, and, raising from a chair.
In another study involving 349 elderly people, the lack of vitamin D was the cause of 246 patients (≥ 70 years of age) being hospitalized. This resulted in falls due to less handgrip strength, unable to climb stairs, and, no outdoor activity.
The available studies that have been preformed indicate that, vitamin D supplementation preserves muscle strength and functional ability in our bodies. Supplementing 700 to 1,000 IU/day of vitamin D3 has been shown to reduce falls by 19%-26%.
Being Overweight Or Obese
In the United States, one third of the population is considered obese according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It is important to eat the right foods for breakfast, avoid smoking, and avoid fast foods regularly.
Being overweight or obese can directly impact your vitamin D deficiency. A large study of over 40,000 patients found that obesity may drive down vitamin D levels, but a predisposition to the vitamin deficiency does not lead to obesity.
There is evidence that vitamin D metabolism, storage, and, action both influence and are influenced by being overweight. The study suggests that vitamin D becomes diluted within an obese individual’s body, which then becomes a deficiency in overweight and obese people.
If you are obese and overweight be sure to get your vitamin D levels checked. Taking vitamin D supplements could augment your chances of losing weight.
Excessive Head Sweating
Did you know…
Sweating is a symptom of vitamin D deficiency?
Ok, not your boobs, but excessive head sweating!
If you didn’t just finish doing a lot of physical activity, and your head is sweating, you could be prone to having a low level of vitamin D.
Sweating on your forehead is a classic sign of vitamin D deficiency. It is a common sign that is found among new born babies as well.
Doctors tend to ask new mothers if their children have a sweaty head often for this exact reason.
According to the CDC’s estimate, only 5% to 13% of breastfed infants and 20% to 37% of formula-fed babies are getting enough vitamin D to meet the CDC requirements of 200 to 400 IU a day.
If you or your new born baby have a sweaty head for no particular reason, you might need to supplement with vitamin D.
Eating and drinking foods and teas with probiotics in them can help with gut troubles.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so certain gut conditions that cause a lower absorption of fat can also lower your absorption of vitamin D.
If you have a gastrointestinal condition that affects your ability to absorb fat, you may have lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D.
There are a few gastrointestinal conditions that are associated with a lack in vitamin D which include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Coeliac and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
In a study of patients with IBD, nearly 50% of patients had vitamin D deficiency and about 11% of patients had severe vitamin D deficiency.
If you have stomach problems the absorption of vitamins can be effected. Your stomach fluids, pancreatic secretions, bile from your liver, and, the integrity of the wall of your intestine all play a role in vitamin absorption. Depending on your situation you may need to supplement vitamin D.
Feeling Depressed and Down
If you are like me, being in a good mood is important on a daily basis. No one likes to be upset or down on themselves; especially for any unseen reasons.
Our brains control our moods by passing along information into different receptors. It is also important to keep your brains sharp and remember things.
Vitamin D receptors have been found throughout our brains. With these receptors, scientists know that vitamin D is working properly in our brains.
These receptors are found in the areas of the brain that are linked to the development of depression. As of today, exactly how vitamin D works in our brain is not fully understood.
We do know that vitamin D affects the amount of serotonin in our brain. Anti-depression medicine works by increasing the amount of serotonin in our bodies. Therefore, taking vitamin D helps increase serotonin which may help treat depression.
In a small study, three women were taking antidepressant medicine and were deficient in vitamin D. Their levels were below 15 ng/mL.
After 12 weeks of vitamin D supplements, their levels were raised above 30 ng/mL and their depression symptoms improved.
With daily supplemental dosages of vitamin D you can lower your risk of higher rates of cancers including:
- And more…
There are other signs that you have a vitamin D deficiency. These signs don’t have much research but include:
- You have a darker skin – it is difficult for your skin to absorb UV sun rays to convert to vitamin D
- You’re older than 50 – skin doesn’t make much vitamin D due to limited sun exposure
- aching bones – usually in children rickets are a result from lack of vitamin D but is rare now a days.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, because it helps the body use calcium from your diet.
According to some studies doctors say that vitamin D deficiency is a global epidemic but can be fixed with daily supplements if you are lacking the appropriate levels.
The Institute of Medicine recently raised the recommended daily intake to 600 IU for people aged 1-70 and to 800 IU for adults older than 70.
Let me know about your experiences! Are you at risk for vitamin D deficiency? How do you make sure you get enough of this vital vitamin?