Vitamin D is an essential vitamin and can have a powerful effect throughout the body. Unlike most other vitamins, this one functions similar to a hormone, and every cell in your body has a receptor for it! Your skin creates vitamin D from cholesterol when exposed to sunlight. It’s also found in some foods such as fortified dairy products and fatty fish, although it’s difficult to get enough intake through food alone.
As with most essential vitamins, a deficiency can lead to many problems. Often, symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can go unnoticed, even though it can negatively impact the quality of life. However, if you suspect you have a deficiency, you’re not alone! Around 1 billion people in the world have low levels of Vitamin D in their blood. A study in 2011 found that 41.6% of U.S. adults are deficient as well. To help you identify if this problem affects you, we’ll go over 5 signs of vitamin D deficiency along with some of the risk factors.
1. Feeling Constantly Tired
Did you know a vitamin D deficiency can be one reason for feeling tired? While there are many possible causes, this one is often overlooked. Studies show that a deficiency can cause fatigue and harm your energy levels, even when your blood levels aren’t extremely low. A study found a strong connection between self-reported fatigue and low vitamin D levels.
Researchers have linked depression with vitamin D deficiency, especially in older adults. Some controlled studies have shown that increasing vitamin D for those who are deficient can help improve depression. This includes assisting with seasonal depression that occurs during the winter.
3. Getting Sick Often
Vitamin D helps keep our immune system strong so that it can fight off bacteria and viruses. If you often get sick (especially with the flu or colds), low levels of vitamin D may be contributing. Studies indicate a link between a deficiency and respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and colds.
4. Hair Loss
While hair loss is often associated with stress, it can also be a result of a nutrient deficiency. Unfortunately, while there is not much research on this, some evidence indicates that having a deficiency can cause hair loss. Vitamin D stimulates your hair follicles to grow, and when the body doesn’t get enough of the vitamin, your hair may be affected. Additionally, an autoimmune condition that causes patchy hair loss called alopecia areata may be linked to a deficiency. Those with alopecia areata have much lower levels of vitamin D than those who do not have it.
5. Back and Bone Pain
A function of vitamin D is that it helps improve the body’s absorption of calcium. Studies have found a relationship between chronic lower back pain and deficiency, even severe back pain limiting daily activities. Researchers found that people with a vitamin D deficiency were almost twice as likely to experience pain in their joints, ribs, or legs compared to those with normal levels in their blood.
There are a couple of factors that can put people at risk of having a deficiency. These include the elderly, being overweight, living where there is little sun year-round, staying indoors, and not eating very much dairy or fish. On the other hand, those who live in areas with plenty of sun exposure are less likely to have a deficiency since their skin produces enough to satisfy their body’s requirements.
We hope our list of 5 signs of vitamin D deficiency has helped! Unfortunately, most people are unaware they’re deficient as symptoms are often non-specific, meaning it can be difficult to tell if it’s caused by low vitamin levels or something else. If you suspect you have a deficiency, we recommend getting your blood levels tested! It can help improve your quality of life and your body’s ability to function.
Thankfully, the problem is usually quite easy to fix. You can increase sun exposure, take vitamin D supplements, or eat more vitamin-D-rich foods. It’s an easy fix that can have remarkable benefits for your health! If you’d like to learn more about how naturopathic medicine can help restore your body and mind, feel free to contact Dr. Brandy McGill directly on our website.
* This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your health provider