If you don’t spend enough time outdoors or consume dairy products, you may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sun exposure. It is present naturally in certain foods. Discover the symptoms, as well as the causes and treatment of vitamin D deficiency in the following article.
Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sun exposure
Vitamin D deficiency occurs when the body does not get enough of this vitamin through sunlight or food. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to loss of bone density, osteoporosis and fractures. Keep in mind that although some foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products contain this vitamin, it is difficult to get enough of it through diet alone. It’s no surprise, then, that vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world.
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies
Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms
Be aware that symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may appear over months or even years.
Common illnesses or infections
One of vitamin D’s main roles is to support immune health, which helps your body ward off disease-causing viruses and bacteria. The sunshine vitamin interacts directly with the cells responsible for fighting infections. If you get sick often, especially with a cold or the flu, it may be due to low levels of vitamin D. Studies have found a link between a deficiency in this vitamin and respiratory tract infections such as colds, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Fatigue can have many causes including vitamin D deficiency. Unlike more visible causes like stress, depression and insomnia, vitamin D deficiency is often overlooked as a potential cause. Studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation can reduce fatigue in people who suffer from such a deficiency.
Fatigue can have several causes including vitamin D deficiency
Bone and back pain
Bone and lower back pain can be symptoms of insufficient vitamin D levels. Note that vitamin D helps maintain bone health by improving the body’s absorption of calcium.
Bone and lower back pain can be symptoms of low vitamin D levels
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, especially in the elderly.
As vitamin D plays a crucial role in the absorption of calcium, its deficiency leads to bone loss. However, taking vitamin D and calcium at the same time helps the body maximize this absorption. Take into account that a low bone mineral density indicates that your bones have lost calcium, as well as other minerals. This puts older people, especially women, at increased risk of fractures. Adequate vitamin D intake can therefore protect your bone mass and reduce the risk of fractures.
Hair health can be affected by many foods and nutrients. Stress is, indeed, a common cause of hair loss, but more severe loss can be due to illness or nutrient deficiency. What’s more, studies link low vitamin D levels to alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease characterized by severe hair loss.
Hair loss may be due to nutrient deficiency
Take into account that vitamin D deficiency can cause muscle pain. Studies show that vitamin D supplements can reduce various types of pain in people with vitamin D deficiency.
A study found a possible link between low vitamin D levels and belly fat and weight gain.
Be aware that vitamin D deficiency is linked to anxiety disorders as well. Yet, adequate levels of vitamin D can help reduce anxiety symptoms, improve sleep quality, and even prevent depression.
Abnormal heart rhythm
Consider that a number of factors can cause an abnormal heart rhythm, including a disease that affects the heart muscle. Certain medications, too high or too low levels of vitamin D and calcium as well as health problems associated with risk factors, such as hypertension, smoking, diabetes, chronic stress, overweight and consumption excessive alcohol or banned substances can affect your heart rate.
Hypertension and vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to heart disease and an increased risk of high blood pressure. However, recent research cast doubt on whether taking a supplement of this vitamin reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to anxiety disorders
Vitamin D Deficiency: Causes
Although there is no single cause for the deficiency, your overall risk may be higher due to certain underlying conditions or lifestyle factors. Discover the most common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency below:
- To be overweight ;
- Not exposing yourself to the sun enough;
- Not eating enough fish or dairy products;
- Suffer from chronic kidney disease, liver disease or hyperparathyroidism;
- Have a medical condition that affects nutrient absorption, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease;
- Take medications that affect vitamin D metabolism, such as statins and steroids.
If you are at increased risk of deficiency, consider consulting your doctor.
Different factors can lead to vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D Deficiency: Treatment
Vitamin D deficiency is usually treated with supplements. If your doctor finds that you have a deficiency, they may recommend the following options:
Oral supplements are the gold standard treatment for vitamin D deficiency. Note that magnesium contributes to the activation of the sunshine vitamin. In case of severe deficiency, the doctor may recommend taking vitamin D.
Eating more vitamin D-rich foods may also increase your levels of the sunshine vitamin. You can eat more than:
- oily fish
- egg yolks
- fortified cereals
- Liver of beef
Eat more foods rich in vitamin D
Be aware that your doctor may recommend that you go outside more in order to expose yourself to the sun. However, given the negative effects of excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays, it is important to take precautions by limiting the total time of exposure to the sun and by applying sunscreen.
From what level can we speak of vitamin D deficiency?
The most accurate way to measure the amount of vitamin D in your body is through a blood test. A level between 20 ng/mL and 50 ng/mL is considered adequate for healthy people. A level below 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.
Keep in mind that prevention is the best way to avoid vitamin D deficiency. However, if you already suffer from it, you can correct this deficiency by focusing on the right foods, as well as regular physical activity. Here are some simple tips to follow in order to have good levels of the sunshine vitamin.
Prevention is the best way to avoid vitamin D deficiency
Maintain a healthy body weight
Opting for walking or cycling can help you stay active and get outside, while exposing yourself to the sun.
Take care of your health issues
If you have health conditions that affect nutrient absorption, you may find that treating them helps to increase the levels of certain nutrients, including vitamin D.
What foods are richest in vitamin D?
Here are the healthy foods highest in vitamin D:
- Fish like salmon, herring, and sardines, as well as canned tuna
- Egg yolks
- Cow or soy milk
- Orange juice
- Cereals and oatmeal
Is it dangerous to take vitamin D every day?
Be aware that taking too much vitamin D in supplement form can be dangerous. If you experience symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, see your doctor.
Too much vitamin D in supplement form can be dangerous