Vitamin D is an extremely vital vitamin that has effects which are powerful on various systems throughout the body
Vitamin D functions like a hormone, and every single cell in the body has a receptor for it unlike the other vitamins
When the skin is exposed to sunlight the body produces vitamin D from cholesterol.
It’s also present in certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, though it’s very hard to get enough vitamin D from diet only.
The suggested everyday intake is usually around 400–800 IU, but many experts have said to get even more than that.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common. It’s evaluated that approximately 1 billion people around the world have low levels of the vitamin in their blood .
According to a study, about 41% of adults in the US are deficient. This number goes up to around 69% in Hispanics and 82% in African-Americans
Below mentioned are 7 common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency:
- Having dark skin.
- Overweight or obese.
- Not eating much fish or dairy.
- Living far from the equator where there is little sun year-round.
- Using sunscreen every time when going out.
- Staying indoors.
People who are residing near the equator and are getting frequent sun exposure are less likely to be deficient, as their skin produces enough vitamin D to satisfy the bodies’ needs.
When symptoms are generally being subtle, deficiency is not realized by most people. It may not recognize easily, even if significant negative effect is made on the quality of life.
Below mentioned are 8 signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
- Getting Sick or Infected Often
Vitamin D’s one of the most crucial roles is keeping the immune system strong in order to be able to fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness.
The cells that are responsible for fighting infection vitamin D directly interacts with them
If becoming sick more often, due to colds or the flu especially, low vitamin D levels may be a factor in it.
Several large observational researches have shown a connection between a deficiency and respiratory tract infections like colds, bronchitis and pneumonia
Many studies have found that consuming vitamin D supplements at a dosage of up to 4,000 IU every day may decrease the risk of respiratory tract infections
In a study in people who were having the chronic lung disorder COPD, only those who were having deficiency very severe in vitamin D experienced a significant advantage after taking a high-dose supplement for a year
- Fatigue and Tiredness
Vitamin D deficiency may be one of the reasons out of many for feeling tired.
Unfortunately, it’s often missed as a likely cause.
Very low blood levels can cause tiredness that can have a severe negative effect on quality of life was shown in many case studies
In a case, complaint of woman having chronic daytime fatigue and headaches was having a vitamin D blood level of only 5.9 ng/ml which is extremely low, as anything under 20 ng/ml is considered deficient.
When the woman consumed a vitamin D supplement, the levels of vitamin D increased to 39 ng/ml and the symptoms sorted out
Also, even not having extremely low blood levels may have a negative impact on the energy levels.
The relationship between vitamin D and fatigue in young women was carried out in a huge observational study
The study showed that women having blood levels lower than 20 ng/ml or 21–29 ng/ml were more likely to complain about being tired than those with blood levels over 30 ng/ml
Another study was conducted in female nurses that found a strong relation between low vitamin D levels and self-reported fatigue.
In addition to this, the researchers concluded that 89% of the nurses were deficient
- Bone and Back Pain
In various ways vitamin D helps in maintaining bone health
One way is that it helps in improving the body’s calcium absorption
Inadequate vitamin D levels in the blood can be because of bone pain and lower back pain
Connection between a deficiency and chronic lower back pain has been found in observational researches
One study has evaluated that the link between vitamin D levels and back pain is found in more than 9,000 older women.
The researchers found that those with a deficiency were had more chances to have back pain, with addition to severe back pain that restricted the daily activities.
In a controlled study, people having vitamin D deficiency were almost twice as likely to experience bone pain in their legs, ribs or joints in comparison to those with normal range of blood levels
A sign of vitamin D deficiency can also be a depressed mood
In review researches, researchers have associated vitamin D deficiency with depression, particularly in adults who are older.
In a analysis, almost 60% of the observational studies found a connection between low blood levels and depression.
On the other side, most of the controlled trials, which tend to carry more scientific weight compared to observational studies, didn’t show a connection between the two
However, the researchers who evaluated the studies had found that the vitamin D dosages consumed in controlled studies were often very low.
Additionally, there was an observation made that some of the studies may not have lasted long enough to review the effect of taking supplements on mood.
Vitamin D given to people who are deficient helps in improving depression, including seasonal depression that occurs during the colder months was shown in some controlled studies
- Impaired Wound Healing
The vitamin D levels can also be too low if the healing of wounds is slow after having a surgery or injury
Outcomes from a test-tube study recommend that the vitamin increases the development of compounds that are critical for producing new skin as part of the healing process of wound
One study found that certain aspects of healing were compromised by vitamin D deficiency in people who had gone through a dental surgery
It’s also been recommended that vitamin D plays an important role in controlling inflammation and fighting infection for healing properly.
An analysis was also checked of patients with diabetic foot infections.
It found that those having vitamin D deficiency on a severe level were more likely to have higher levels of inflammatory markers that can compromise healing.
Unfortunately, the effects of vitamin D supplements on wound healing in people with deficiency at this point has less research
However, in a study conducted it was found that when patients with deficiency in vitamin D with leg ulcers were treated with the vitamin, ulcer size decreased by on 28%, on average
- Bone Loss
Vitamin D plays a critical role in absorption of calcium and bone metabolism.
Most of the older people who are diagnosed with bone loss believed that they were required to intake more calcium. However, vitamin D deficiency may also be there as well.
Low bone mineral density is a sign that the bones are losing calcium and other minerals. This can increase the risk of fractures in older adults, especially women
In a large observational researches conducted in about more than 1,000 middle-aged women in menopause or post menopause, researchers found a powerful connection between low vitamin D levels and low bone mineral density
However, in a controlled study it was found that women who were having deficiency in vitamin D experienced zero improvement in bone mineral density when high-dose supplements were consumed, even if the blood levels improved
Regardless of these researches, protection of bone mass and decrease in risk of fracture can be mitigated through adequate vitamin D intake and maintaining blood levels within the optimal range
- Hair Loss
Hair loss is often because of stress, which is mostly a common cause.
But, when there is severe case of hair loss, it may be the result of having a disease or nutrient deficiency.
Hair loss in women and low vitamin D levels have been linked together, though very little research is present to prove this to date
An autoimmune disease classified by severe hair loss from the head and other parts of the body known as Alopecia areata. It’s related with rickets, a disease that causes soft bones in children because of vitamin D deficiency.
Low vitamin D levels are associated to alopecia areata and can be a risk factor for developing the disease
A research in people having alopecia areata showed that vitamin D blood levels when low tended to be linked with a more severe hair loss
In a case study, synthetic form applying topically of the vitamin was found for treatment of hair loss in a young boy with a defect in the vitamin D receptor to be successful
The health of your hair can also be affected by other foods and nutrients.
- Muscle Pain
Muscle pain causes are mostly difficult to pinpoint.
There is some evidence present that deficiency in vitamin D may be a probable cause of muscle pain in children and adults
In one study, around 70% of people having chronic pain were found to have deficiency
Nociceptors are the vitamin D receptors which are present in nerve cells that sense pain.
A study in rats showed that a pain and sensitivity due to stimulation of nociceptors in muscles was caused due to deficiency
A few research found that when consuming high-dose vitamin D supplements various types of pain may be decreased in people who are deficient
A study conducted in around 100 children with vitamin D deficiency who were having developing pains found that a vitamin’s single dose decreased the pain scores by an average of 55%
The Bottom Line
Vitamin D deficiency is common everywhere and most people are not aware of it.
This can be because of the symptoms that are often narrow and non-specific, which means that it can be difficult to know if it was caused by low vitamin D levels or something else.
The doctor should be consulted if symptoms are present of having deficiency and blood levels should be also measured.
Luckily, a vitamin D deficiency is usually not hard to fix.
Sun exposure can either be increased, or eating more vitamin-D-rich foods, such as fatty fish or fortified dairy products.
Deficiency is simple to fix, easy and can have huge advantages for the health.