Since the sun is the best vitamin D source, it may seem available to everyone, but that’s not the case. Statistics show that about one-ninth of the earth’s population suffers from vitamin D deficiency, about 1 billion people. The importance of vitamin D to the human body can’t be overemphasized. It has a very powerful effect on several body systems. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D functions more like a hormone, and every feeling in the body has a specific receptor for it. The human body is capable of producing vitamin D from cholesterol when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is present in foods like fatty fish and fortified dairy products. Keep in mind that the amount of vitamin D gotten from food is not enough, and that’s why the sun remains the best source of vitamin D.
Common Risk Factors for Vitamin D Deficiency
Some common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include;
- Having dark skin
- Being elderly
- Being overweight or obese
- Not eating much fish or dairy
- Those living away from the equator where there is little sun year-round
- Always using sunscreen when going out
- Staying indoors
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
A lot of people don’t realize that they’re deficient, as symptoms are generally subtle. You may not recognize them very easily, even if they’re having a significant adverse effect on your quality of life.
Getting sick or infected often
One of the importance of vitamin D is keeping your immune system strong. Vitamin D can interact directly with cells that are responsible for fighting infections. If you get sick often, most times with the cold or flu, low vitamin D may be a contributing factor. Several research types have shown a link between deficiency and respiratory tract infections like colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Some studies also show that taking vitamin D supplements at a dosage of up to 4,000 IU daily may reduce your risk of respiratory tract infections.
Feeling tired could have many causes, and vitamin D deficiency may be one of them. Studies show that a low amount of vitamin D in the blood can cause fatigue that has a severe negative impact on the quality of life. In one case study, a woman who complained of chronic daytime fatigue and headaches was found to have a vitamin D blood level of only 5.9 ng/ml. This is very low, as anything under 20 ng/ml is considered deficient. When the woman took vitamin D supplements, her level increased to 39 ng/ml, and her symptoms resolved. This shows the effect of vitamin D on energy levels.
Bone and back pain
Vitamin D helps to maintain bone health in several ways. For starters, it improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Bone pain and back pain may be caused by lack of vitamin D. Observational studies have also backed up this claim. There’s a recurring link between lower back pain and vitamin D deficiency. The researchers found that those who were deficient were more likely to have back pain, including severe back pain that limited their daily activities.
Depression could also be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. In an analysis, 65% of the observational studies found a relationship between low blood levels and depression. Though further studies didn’t back up this claim, it was later declared that such studies didn’t last long enough to see the effects of the supplements.
Impaired wound healing
Slow healing of open wounds that may have been sustained from surgery or injury could be drawn back to lack of vitamin D. Results from a test-tube study shows that vitamin D increases the production of certain compounds that are crucial for forming new skin as part of the healing process. Another thing is that vitamin D helps against inflammation and fighting infections, which is essential for wound healing. Unfortunately, there is little research about the effects of vitamin D supplements on wound healing in people with deficiency at this point. However, one study discovered that when vitamin D deficient patients with leg ulcers were treated with vitamin D, ulcer size was reduced by 28%, on average.
Vitamin D helps in calcium absorption and bone metabolism. Many people who suffer from bone loss believe they need to take in more calcium, but they could be vitamin D deficient. Low bone mineral density is a sign that your bones have lost calcium and other minerals. This places older adults, especially women, at an increased risk of fractures and bone loss.
Some other symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are hair loss and muscle pain. Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent because it’s hard to notice its symptoms. If you think you are vitamin D deficient, please visit your doctor before taking any supplements.