It’s summer time, and that usually means a big boost in the amount of Vitamin D in your body.
Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because your skin makes it when it's out in the sun’s rays.
It seems strange to think of a vitamin as being made in our skin. This is especially true of one that is as key as Vitamin D is to our body’s health.
The truth is that Vitamin D is more like a hormone than a vitamin.
We have all become so conscious of the risks of skin cancer. Our first thought when we are in the sun is to cover up. But having enough Vitamin D is our best way to cut the risk of heart disease.
In fact, studies have shown that your chance of having a heart attack goes way up as your Vitamin D levels go down.
Poor heart health is not the only sign or symptom that you may be low on Vitamin D.
There are many illnesses and health problems that can come from not having enough of this important element in our bodies.
Vitamin D and Soft Bones
Have you ever heard of rickets? It’s an old-fashioned illness that hardly ever affects anybody anymore. Once there was a time when it was very common.
Rickets is a softening and weakening of the bones. It used to happen to kids who didn’t have enough Vitamin D.
In adults, it is known as osteomalacia.
When the bones are soft it leads to pain and weakness. People who have it are prone to bones breaking easily. It was one of the key drivers of adding Vitamin D to milk.
Studies show about 10% of American adults are Vitamin D deficient.Tweet
Common Signs of Low Vitamin D Today
Though rickets is a thing of the past, being low in Vitamin D is not, and it can result in a number of serious health problems.
You don’t have to have Vitamin D levels that are terribly low to see an impact.
More importantly, people often don’t realize that the reason that they aren’t feeling well has to do with a nutritional lack.
8 Signs You Need More Vitamin D
1. Do you feel tired all the time?
There are lots of reasons for feeling tired. After
all, our lives today are very hectic!
But if you know that you’re getting plenty of sleep and still find yourself feeling exhausted, you may be low on Vitamin D.
In fact, a study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences reported that in people who were tested and found to be low in Vitamin D, fatigue was one of the top signs.
The good news is that if you boost your intake, it can quickly provide you with a return to feeling full of energy.
2. Are you feeling depressed?
Your brain health is closely linked to your intake of Vitamin D.
In fact, a study has shown that there are specific receptors for Vitamin D in the brain, and they are located very close to the areas that are linked to mood.
Scientists do not yet know whether a lack of Vitamin D causes depression, or if depression has an effect on the brain’s ability to take in the nutrient and leads to low levels.
3. Do you have a sweaty brow?
This may sound strange, but one of the very first signs that a doctor looks for when they suspect that a patient may have a Vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty forehead.
We’re not talking about working up a sweat when you’re on the treadmill or when it’s 90 degrees outside. This is when the temperature is normal and you’re feeling okay.
4. Do your ache all the time?
There’s nothing like the feeling of muscle soreness that you get after a good hard workout. But when you have joint and muscle pain all the time and you are stiff every morning, it may be a sign that your bones are soft from lack of Vitamin D.
It’s a good idea to get this symptom checked early because it could mean that you’re more prone to breaks and fractures.
5. Are you prone to stress fractures?
Some activities may make you more prone to injury, but getting hurt all the time isn’t normal.
If you're a person who loves to run or take part in high impact exercise and you’re getting a lot of stress fractures, you may want to check your Vitamin D levels.
You may not be absorbing enough calcium to keep your bones strong enough to withstand the pressure.
6. How’s your run time these days?
Most people who enjoy sports like to compete, even if it’s only against themselves.
If you're feeling like you just aren’t getting the same level of performance out of yourself that you did a while back, it may be your Vitamin D levels.
Before you start beating yourself up and giving yourself a pep talk about getting in shape, take a look at the bigger picture. If you're feeling more sore and more tired than before, it may be that your body can’t recover the way it should because of a lack of Vitamin D.
7. How are you spending your nights?
If you're having a hard time getting a good night of sleep, the problem may not be stress or coffee.
Studies have shown that people who have normal levels of Vitamin D sleep much better – and those who have abnormal sleep patterns are more likely to be Vitamin D deficient.
And speaking of night time activity … this might be a good chance to mention that if you're a man who is low on Vitamin D, you also may have a problem with erectile dysfunction. Just saying.
8. Are you catching everybody’s cold and flu?
People who are low on Vitamin D are much more vulnerable to infections and viruses.
If you find that you are open to every bug that’s going around and it takes you a long time to feel better, there’s a good chance your problem is that you’re low on Vitamin D.
The Risks are Real
As if all these symptoms weren’t enough, there are also reports that Vitamin D has an impact on the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
It has been shown to lower the risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis and making the symptoms of this condition much less severe.
And it’s been linked to the following serious problems:
- Asthma – Research has linked low levels of Vitamin D to worse lung function
- Cancer – Research has linked half of all cancers to Vitamin D deficiencies
- Cognitive challenges in the elderly – People with very low levels of Vitamin D are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Higher chances of death from heart disease
Testing Your Levels of Vitamin D
There is some good news about Vitamin D levels. One is that it is very easy to test for. Another is that a Vitamin D deficiency is very easy to correct.
Testing for Vitamin D is done through a simple and easy blood test.
If your Vitamin D blood level is between 20 and 50 nanograms/milliliter, you’re fine.
If your level is less than 12 nanograms/milliliter, you need to be treated.
Treatment is simple enough. The best way is to get out into the sun more.
You can also improve your Vitamin D by improving your diet and taking supplements. This is particularly true for people who can’t go out into the sun or who live in areas where the sun isn’t in great supply. That includes areas that are always cold.
In the United States, if you live north of Atlanta then you're not going to get enough UVB rays in the winter to produce the Vitamin D that you need.
During the summer, spending just 10 minutes in the sun wearing shorts and a tee shirt should give you enough exposure.
People who have dark skin make less Vitamin D, so they should look to get this important nutrient through the foods that they eat.
One thing to keep in mind if you aren’t getting enough Vitamin D from the sun or your diet: you can always get it from lamps and special light bulbs.
These are very good for people who live in cold climates or high elevations. It's also good for people who don’t absorb enough Vitamin D.
The lamps are available through retailers like Amazon and are relatively small and portable.
It's important to remember that the lamps do increase the risk of skin cancer. You need to take the same precautions when using these artificial light sources that you do before going out into the sun.
Foods that are high in Vitamin D
The most obvious place to get plenty of Vitamin D is drinking milk, but there are plenty of foods that have high levels of this essential nutrient. These include:
- Wild caught fish such as salmon or mackerel
- Beef or calves’ liver
- Egg yolks
- Canned fish like sardines or tuna
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Almond milk
- Orange juice
- Cod liver oil
Who's Most at Risk?
Though it is easy to blame diet or lack of sunshine for a Vitamin D deficiency, it’s important to remember that there are some illnesses that can cause this serious problem.
If you suspect that you may be low on this nutrient, you might want to take a look at these causes of low Vitamin D:
- People who eat a vegan diet are often low in Vitamin D. This is because they do not eat many of the food sources that contain it.
- Not getting enough sun. If you live in an area where there isn’t enough sun exposure or you stay inside all the time, your skin may not be able to manufacture the Vitamin D that it needs.
- Having dark skin. People who have a lot of melanin in their skin often do not make enough Vitamin D.
- Kidney problems. Some people have problems with their kidneys that lead to them being unable to convert Vitamin D in the way that makes it accessible to the body.
- Intestinal problems. Some people have problems with their digestive tracts that keep them from being able to absorb Vitamin D from their foods. The biggest health problems that lead to this result include cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.
- Obesity. People who are obese are frequently diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency. This is because they have too many fat cells in their blood stream and these cells remove the Vitamin D.
Should you take a Vitamin D supplement?
The best way to raise your level of Vitamin D is the natural way – through the sun and by improving your diet.
But if you live at a high elevation or are unable to get enough of this important nutrient through your diet, you can also take Vitamin D supplements.
If you choose to do this, be careful. It is possible to take too much. The most Vitamin D that a person should take in through the course of one day is 4,000 IUs.
This is a total that includes the amount that you make after being in the sun, and from your food, and from supplements.
Remember, too much of a good thing can be harmful. When it comes to Vitamin D, it can be toxic. Be sure to talk to your doctor to make sure you are getting the right dosage.
Yours in health and happiness,
P.S. Please share this with your friends and don't forget to leave a comment below. Do you have the signs of Low Vitamin D?