Vitamin D is an important Vitamin in the body, and one of the fat-soluble vitamins alongside Vitamins A and K. This vitamin plays a number of crucial roles in the body. It is tasked with the regulation of Calcium and phosphate concentration in the body.This is an important role because it not only keeps the teeth and bones strong, it is also required for the maintenance of healthy muscles. One of the best sources of Vitamin D is exposure to the sun, hence the reference to Vitamin D as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin.
The body is able to synthesize the Vitamin from cholesterol after spending some time in the sun. Typically, most people are able to get the Vitamin D required from spending time in the outdoors. Note that caution must be exercised when basking in the sun to avoid getting sunburns. It is advisable to wear sunscreen for its protective role.
In some parts of the world however, seasonal changes mean that there is less exposure to the sun. It is for this reason that foods rich in Vitamin D are recommended. Some of the foods rich in Vitamin D include oily fish (these include sardines, herring, mackarel and salmon among others), eggs and red meat.
Liver is also rich in Vitamin D, as are fortified foods in many breakfast cereals and foods. For some people, Vitamin D supplements are recommended to provide the body with the vitamin. This is especially important during winter and autumn seasons when the sun isn’t strong enough for the synthesis of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency occurs when the body is unable to make enough of the vitamin. Some people are unable to produce Vitamin D because they are institutionalized or spent a lot of time indoors, say for those who are bedridden.
This deficiency is an issue of public health concern across the world, with research showing that more than a billion people suffer from the condition. There are a number of signs and symptoms that indicate Vitamin D deficiency. Below are the signs that you need to be getting a lot more Vitamin D in your body.
1. You are Constantly Exhausted:
If the body experiences a deficiency in Vitamin D, one of the most common signs is consistent exhaustion. This is the kind of fatigue that does not seem to go away even with getting adequate rest at night. There is a growing body of evidence that a deficiency in Vitamin D is directly linked to increased fatigue, which in turn causes various sleeping disorders.
Sadly, low levels of Vitamin D are rarely looked at as the potential cause of the fatigue. As a general guide, levels of Vitamin D that are found to be below 20 nano-grams per ml of blood following a diagnostic test are considered to be very low. Taking vitamin D supplements has been reported to help reduce the fatigue in people with the deficiency.
2. You Experience Pain in the Bones and Back Ache on a Regular Basis:
One of the functions of Vitamin D mentioned above is the strengthening of bones and maintaining bone health through a number of mechanisms. One of the ways it does this is through the absorption of calcium from the blood stream.
When the Vitamin D in the body is found in low concentrations, this impacts calcium absorption, which in turn affects the health of the bones. Consequently, affected people tend to experience pain in the bones, often accompanied by back ache.
Depending on how extreme the condition is, some people affected by the deficiency experience such severe pain that it interferes with their daily tasks. In some people, the pain manifests as stress fractures as a result of thin brittle bones.
If you constantly experience such pain, it may be an indication that your body needs more Vitamin D. Remember to get a proper diagnosis for this before taking on further treatment. People engaged in high stress activities and athletics need higher levels of Vitamin D to counter this risk.
3. You go Through Episodes of Sadness and Depression:
One of the warning signs that indicate possible Vitamin D deficiency is going through episodes of intense sadness and depression. Different studies show that people with low levels of Vitamin D are likely to suffer depressive episodes. The explanation for this is that the brain has a number of Vitamin D receptors in regions associated with depression.
These receptors are known as nociceptors, and are found in the cells of the nervous system.
In line with these findings, a low concentration of Vitamin D means that there is not enough of the Vitamin to attach to the receptors. This is likely to trigger depression, so if you find yourself experiencing the blues way too often, perhaps it is time to get checked and find out whether this is a warning sign for Vitamin D deficiency.
4. You Experience Erectile Dysfunction:
If you find that you or your partner are struggling with erectile dysfunction (abbreviated ED), perhaps a Vitamin D deficiency is to blame. Different studies done over the years show that men who had ED had low levels of Vitamin D.
The greater the severity of the ED, the lower the levels of the vitamin found in the body. What’s more, ED has also been linked to cardiovascular diseases which, not surprisingly, have also been linked to a lack of Vitamin D in the body. In fact, so strong is this link that many experts in the field consider the treatment of Vitamin D deficiency as one of the key pillars in the treatment of ED.
5. Your Fitness Levels have Taken a Nose Dive:
Low concentration of Vitamin D has a great effect on your fitness levels, and the most surprising thing perhaps, is that you may not even notice that you are not performing optimally when suffering from this deficiency. Poor fitness is attributed to muscle function in which Vitamin D plays an integral role.
As a matter of fact, analytic studies show that supplemental Vitamin D has a positive effect on the fitness levels of persons suffering from Vitamin D deficiency. There is a second way in which low levels of Vitamin D impact one’s physical performance. When found in low levels, the absence of Vitamin D has been associated to a significant increase in inflammation.
After a typically strenuous workout, the body experiences inflammation. If the vitamin D present in the body is adequate, then one recovers speedily from the exercise session. On the flip side, if there is a low concentration of Vitamin D, inflammation is prolonged and recovery is slowed down.
The most important thing in recognizing this sign of Vitamin D deficiency is to avoid taking supplements if your body synthesizes an adequate amount of the vitamin. Since it is a fat soluble vitamin in hormonal form, too much of its intake causes potential harm to the body. To get this out of the way, consider monitoring your physical performance alongside carrying out a test that determines the level of Vitamin D in the body.
6. You Catch Just About Every Flu and Cold; you are More Prone to Infections:
If you find yourself going down with the flu and every other infection so often, it might just be as a result of low levels of Vitamin D in the body. This is because this deficiency has closely been linked to a suppressed immune system. If your immune system is not functioning properly, it is easy to go down with a wide array of infections.
Research conducted in the field of internal medicine indicates that people with a Vitamin D deficiency are especially more prone to getting colds and infections of the upper respiratory system. The increased risk of disease and infections likely points to the body’s need for more Vitamin D in circulation.
7. Your Wounds Heal Poorly After Injury or Surgery:
Poor immune function, as highlighted above, is also closely linked to poor wound healing. The slow healing of wounds could be an indication that there are low levels of Vitamin D in the body. This is so following results from laboratory experiments conducted to study the process of wound-healing.
In these studies, it is suggested that the presence of Vitamin d is critical for the synthesis of chemical compounds that are required to develop new skin during the healing process.
Additionally, the link between Vitamin D and inflammation mentioned above is worth considering in proper wound healing. At the core of this sign is the fact that low levels of Vitamin D may affect how wounds heal following trauma, injury or a surgical procedure.
Many people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, so it is a rather common condition yet many people are unaware of some of the signs it presents. Part of the reason for this is that its signs are subtle and this makes it difficult for individuals to pin the specific cause of the symptoms.
If you suspect that you have a deficiency, consider talking to your medical provider in order to carry out tests. The good news is that this condition can be treated with ease, usually by increasing one’s exposure to the sun, eating a diet rich in Vitamin D foods as well as the use of supplements. The health benefits of Vitamin D on the body are great, and definitely worth looking out for.