Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that the body produces when exposed to sunlight. It is responsible for regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus through the intestine, promoting bone health and bone formation, and also influences muscle function, immune function, cell growth, and the development of muscles.
With outside-time slowly decreasing due to shorter and colder days, Vitamin D deficiency is a risk that many face. There are also other factors that could limit Vitamin D absorption, such as body fat and skin color. Here are signs that would indicate your Vitamin D levels could be too low.
Experiencing Constant Fatigue
Fatigue is often considered a normal part of life, especially for working adults. However, if you're feeling exhausted and sluggish all the time, it could be a sign that you're not getting enough vitamin D.
One study tested people with vitamin D deficiency that complained of fatigue. The test was to see if providing them with one dose of vitamin D, over a period of 30 days, could lead to improvements. According to the results, participants aged 20 to 50 years old reported a significant decline in fatigue.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to fatigue in older people, according to a study with a sample of 480 persons.
It is hypothesized that low vitamin D levels affect mitochondrial activity, leading to tiredness. The mitochondria use oxygen to provide energy for many bodily functions, including the muscles. It may interfere with your ability to function, making it difficult for you to do even routine chores.
Having Bone Pain
Osteomalacia, also known as bone pain, is a rare disorder that causes softening of bones and muscle weakness, usually resulting in bone deformities. This condition most often affects the hips, thighs, and shoulders. Osteomalacia can be caused by having low levels of vitamin D in your body.
To maintain proper bone mineralization, the body needs adequate amounts of calcium and phosphate. Vitamin D works with these substances to help keep bones healthy. Osteomalacia (which affects adults) and rickets (in children) result when the body lacks these vital nutrients.
Feeling Down and Depressed
According to studies, vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of depression. Moreover, postpartum depression- a type of depression that manifests within the first year of giving birth- has also been linked to it. It may even affect one’s sleep quality and cause anxiety. The relationship appears to be fueled by vitamin D's homeostatic, trophic, and immunomodulatory effects.
Vitamin D has been shown to affect immunological modulation and reduce the release of inflammatory molecules that regulate sleep. A study also indicates that low levels of Vitamin D was linked to patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS).
Your mood is affected by the amount of sleep you get. People who don't get enough sleep can become irritable and stressed. Chronic insomnia- a condition in which people have trouble falling asleep for at least three nights a week for a period of three months or longer- has also been linked to an increased risk of developing anxiety or depression.
Getting Sick Often
A high level of vitamin D in your body makes your immune system stronger and better able to fight off infections. A weakened or compromised immune system is less able to fight off viruses, bacteria, and other germs that cause diseases such as colds or the flu.
Vitamin D helps regulate the immune systems reaction by influencing the development of dendritic cells and their ability to activate T cells. T cells aid the immune system in fighting off infections in healthy persons. A lack of vitamin D has long been considered a major risk factor for the onset of a variety of autoimmune disorders.
Feeling Muscle Pain
Muscle pain and achiness are some of the classic signs of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D, which is often associated with your bones and teeth, may also play a role in pain signaling. One reason for this is that vitamin D receptors are found on nerve cells called nociceptors.
A study shows that supplementing with vitamin D can help with muscle recovery by reducing inflammation or pain. In another study, supplementing with oral vitamin D led to a considerable reduction in pain intensity by an average of 57% in children with vitamin D insufficiency and growing pains.
Suffering From Hair Loss
One of the most common signs of vitamin D deficiency is hair loss or alopecia, especially among females. Hair loss can occur for several reasons, but it's one of the most common symptoms associated with this condition.
Keratinocytes are skin cells responsible for metabolizing keratin, a protein found in hair, nails, and skin. A lack of vitamin D leads keratinocytes in the hair follicles to struggle with regulating hair growth and shedding resulting in excessive hair loss.
What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D is found in foods like eggs, fatty fish, and cheese. It can also be made by the body when exposed to sunlight.
Certain medical conditions can cause vitamin D deficiency such as being overweight or obese and having conditions that affect nutrient absorption like liver problems, kidney disease, Crohn’s disease, or celiac disease.
Additionally, some lifestyles may also cause a lack of vitamin D such as working night shifts, working from home, and staying indoors. Other factors that are harder to control such as living in regions where there is little sunlight or having dark skin may also affect vitamin D absorption.
How is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated?
If you're concerned that you aren't getting enough vitamin D, talk to your doctor about whether a supplement might be right for you. Over-the-counter vitamin D supplements like our Vitamin-D 5000 IU are available and are an easy way to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D.
Sometimes making lifestyle changes and eating a balanced diet can help you get enough vitamin D. Increase your levels by consuming foods high in vitamin D such as:
- fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna)
- egg yolks
- fortified food (cereals, milk, and juices)
- beef liver
If possible, go outside every day for at least 10-20 minutes of unfiltered sun exposure on your face, arms, and hands. It is better to go outside around noon, especially in the summer. The sun's UV rays are strongest at midday, so you don’t need to spend as much time in the sun to reach your vitamin D goal (but be sure not to overdo it and risk sunburn). Research also shows that midday is when the body’s vitamin D production is at its peak.
Ultimately, the best way to know if you are getting enough vitamin D is to get tested by your doctor. This way, you will be able to assess how much vitamin D you need and take action as needed to keep your levels in a healthy range.
You can also take steps in making lifestyle changes to ensure that you are getting the proper amount of vitamin D in your system. Otherwise, you risk experiencing flu-like symptoms, fatigue, and depression due to its deficiency.