Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is commonly thought of as a secondary nutrient that aids in the absorption of calcium. While this is true, new research is showing that vitamin D is not merely secondary or optional. It may be one of the best vitamins there is for your body!
An adequate vitamin D intake provides a myriad of health benefits and helps to ward off certain diseases and illnesses such as:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Heart disease
- Type 1 diabetes
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is quite common. It is estimated that 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is tough to get from diet alone. It can be found in foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, though very few foods actually have therapeutic levels of the vitamin. The easiest, natural way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure.
Many people don’t realize they are deficient because the symptoms are quite subtle and can easily be mistaken for other things. If you have any of these six signs or symptoms, consider getting your vitamin D levels in check.
1. Depressed Mood
Depression is a disabling disorder, and what’s more, medications often come with a host of side effects. Vitamin D may be one effective and natural treatment for depression.
Studies have linked depression to low vitamin D levels, particularly in older adults. Controlled studies show that vitamin D supplementation can improve depressive symptoms. However, other studies have shown no link between vitamin D supplementation and depression.
A brisk walk in nature can improve your mood and help you get in that vitamin D.
2. Impaired or Low Immunity
We know that our immune system is crucial to fighting off viruses and bacteria that may cause illness. Vitamin D plays a vital role in keeping the immune system strong and healthy.
One study found that T cells (the killer cells of the immune system) first search for vitamin D to activate. If they can’t find enough of it, they will not complete the activation process. In other words, without sufficient intake of vitamin D, the T cells will not be able to fight off serious diseases.
Several studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to respiratory tract infections in young children. Other studies have shown that using a daily vitamin D supplement can decrease risk for respiratory tract infections, including seasonal influenza.
3. Dark Skin
If you have dark skin, you’re at a much higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.
In the U.S alone, about 42% of people are vitamin D deficient. This number rises to a whopping 69% in Hispanics and 82% African Americans.
This is partly because pigmentation reduces the production of vitamin D in the skin. Thus, someone with dark skin needs much more sun exposure than someone with lighter skin.
4. High Blood Pressure
Believe it or not, high blood pressure may be an indication that you lack vitamin D.
Studies have shown that vitamin D may play a role in the regulation of blood pressure. The renin-angiotensin system is a system that plays a central role in the regulation of blood pressure. Excess activity of this system has been linked to hypertension. Vitamin D may play a role in the down-regulation of this system, leading to reduced blood pressure.
One study showed that a calcium supplement combined with vitamin D reduced blood pressure more effectively than calcium alone.
Diet is an effective way to manage high blood pressure, and getting enough vitamin D is an important piece of the dietary puzzle.
5. Muscle Pain & Weakness
Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin. There are receptors for it located in every cell in the body, including nerve cells which sense pain.
Some studies show that vitamin D deficiency may be a cause of muscle pain. In one study, 71% of patients with chronic pain had low vitamin D levels. Other studies show that low vitamin D levels coupled with hyperparathyroidism contribute to muscles loss in the elderly.
The good news is that vitamin D supplementation has been shown to improve different types of pain in both children and adults.
If you are experiencing persistent and unexplained muscle pain, you may want to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D.
6. Achy Bones
Bone loss occurs as a normal part of aging. If left untreated, it can lead to osteoporosis, or thinning bones which results in easy fractures.
Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium. Calcium is the vitamin used to build strong bones. Insufficient levels of vitamin D can lead to calcium-depleted bones, which weakens the bones and can eventually lead to osteoporosis.
In one study, 64% of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis were deficient in vitamin D. Studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation can significantly reduce bone loss. Another study showed that a combined use of at least 1200 IU of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D a day could significantly reduce the risk for fracture.
Adequate amounts of both vitamin D and calcium are essential, especially for postmenopausal women, to reduce the risk for osteoporosis.
How Much Vitamin D?
In 2010 the Institute of Medicine recommended new dietary guidelines for vitamin D. These recommendations are listed below:
Some studies, however, suggest that daily intake should be higher than these suggestions, especially for those who aren’t exposed to the sun.
One study suggests around 3800 IU per day for healthy adults and 5000 IU per day for those who are deficient.
People who may need the higher end of these recommendations are:
- People who are overweight or obese
- Postmenopausal and elderly women
- People who have deficient levels of vitamin D
- Those who aren’t exposed to sunlight
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency: Wrap Up
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is a widespread problem, affecting about 42% of US adults. Vitamin D deficiency is a larger problem than was previously thought and can lead to numerous adverse health effects.
The good news is that this problem has a very easy fix! Simply get enough vitamin D daily. You can get vitamin D through sunlight, your diet, a supplement, or a combination of these.
If you think you may be vitamin D deficient, it’s definitely worth it to bring your concerns up to your physician and work on getting your levels to normal.
**DISCLAIMER: Always consult your physician before starting any new supplements.
Source from: Wellness Muslimah — http://www.wellnessmuslimah.com/6-signs-you-may-be-vitamin-d-deficient-and-why-you-should-care/