Find out if you are one of the 42% of Americans who have a vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient in the body. It is produced in the skin from cholesterol when the body comes in contact with sunlight and can also be consumed in dietary form. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body. It further helps our muscles contract and keeps our bones healthy and strong. Your body depends on vitamin D to improve immunity and nerve health for efficient transmission of messages from the brain to different parts of the body.
Unfortunately, around one billion people globally and 42% of Americans are vitamin D deficient, making it a cause for concern. But, do you know if you are vitamin D deficient or not and how you should manage and treat the symptoms? Here’s all that you need to know.
Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can easily mask itself as something less concerning and so it can go unnoticed for a long time. That said, the next time you feel any of the following symptoms, get a vitamin D test done for clarity.
Weak bones and back pain
Osteoporosis and osteomalacia are common bone problems that are often connected to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in ensuring good bone condition, and such a deficiency can lead to weak bones. This nutrient helps in the proper absorption of calcium in the body which is essential for good bone health. Back pain is also associated with vitamin D deficiency and can lead to chronic back pain if not treated.
Fatigue and muscle pain
Constant tiredness can be due to several factors, vitamin D deficiency being one of them. With lesser vitamin D levels, you can experience chronic fatigue and mood swings due to fatigue. The main reasons for such fatigue are bone loss, muscle pain, and reduced muscle strength. There are vitamin D receptors in nerve cells that are sensitive to pain and with vitamin D deficiency, you might experience chronic muscle pain.
Anxiety and depression
Vitamin D deficiency has been related to mood swings, anxiety and depression. Insufficient levels of vitamin D in the body can hamper your cognitive functioning and deteriorate brain condition, causing mood swings, anxiety and depression. With age, our body reduces the production of vitamin D, contributing to higher depression and anxiety cases in people above the age of 65.
If you easily catch a cold or infection, your immune system is down and it has a direct link to your vitamin D levels. This nutrient is responsible for keeping your immune system up and running and preventing you from infections like colds, pneumonia and bronchitis. Its deficiency can make you weak and highly prone to diseases.
Causes for a vitamin D deficiency
You are at risk of a vitamin D deficiency if your blood levels are less than 12 ng/mL. A healthy human being’s blood levels fluctuate between 20-50 ng/mL and lower levels can result in severe conditions. Here are a few other causes related to vitamin D deficiency that make you highly susceptible to it.
- Old age, typically above the age of 65
- Darker skin color
- Low mobility and less sun exposure
- Poor diet
- Nutrient malabsorption in the body
- Medications affecting vitamin D levels in the body
- Chronic kidney and liver disease
How can Vitamin D deficiency be treated?
You must get blood work to understand the level of deficiency and carve out the right course of treatment for you. Until then, get started with these tips immediately to improve your condition.
Sunlight is the easiest and healthiest way to get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is often called the "sunshine vitamin", because during exposure to sunlight 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin absorbs UVB radiation, converting it into vitamin D. I recommend getting at least 20 minutes of sun every morning and if possible, 5-10 minutes throughout the day. Remember, people with light skin can often get enough vitamin D after 10-15 minutes of sun exposure, while darker complexions may need more to synthesize that same amount of vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplements
An easy way to incorporate vitamin D into your lifestyle is through supplements. While sun is the best way, during winter months when it might be difficult to get enough sunlight, a supplement can be a backup. Vitamin D can be especially hard to get if you're vegetarian, as it's most common in non-vegetarian foods. If you're vegetarian or vegan, I recommend focusing even more on sunlight and supplementing with vitamin D. You can easily find oral supplements and start taking them to reduce vitamin D deficiency in the body. Consult a specialist to find the right supplements for you.
Incorporate the right foods
Studies suggest that there is a strong connection between vitamin D and gut health. Since vitamin D helps boost immunity, the presence of this nutrient in adequate amounts helps regulate the immune system and keep it healthy. Focus on consuming food items that will improve vitamin D levels and keep your gut healthy too. You can include vitamin D2 and D3 in your diet by increasing the intake of:
- Fatty fish like salmon or tuna
- Wild mushrooms
- Fortified cereals
- Fortified almond milk
To know more about the foods and dietary changes that can improve your vitamin D levels, feel free to book a 1:1 consultation with me today.