Vitamin D, also called the “sunshine vitamin”, is naturally produced in your body with mild sun exposure or can be consumed through certain foods and supplements. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3.
Vitamin D has multiple roles in your body. Perhaps, the most vital are maintaining the health of your bones and teeth, supporting the health of your immune system, brain, and nervous system, regulating insulin levels, supporting lung function and cardiovascular health, as well as influencing the expression of genes responsible for cancer development.
It’s very important that you get sufficient amount of vitamin D for normal growth and development of your body.1
Signs And Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency
If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you’re at risk of developing abnormalities in your body. Hard to believe? Here’s a list of the signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency that’ll make you think again.
1. Weak Immune System
Vitamin D regulates normal functioning of genes and processes that your body needs to maintain health. It is sent to different parts of the body. Immune cells (B cells, T cells, and antigen-presenting cells) have vitamin D receptors on them and are capable of synthesizing the active vitamin D. When there is a deficiency of vitamin D in your body, there are increased chances of autoimmune disorders and increased susceptibility to infection.
Optimizing the vitamin D levels in your body may help you prevent infections, autoimmune diseases, and more.2
2. Weak Muscles And Bones
Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous in your body. Inadequate vitamin D levels in the blood may lead to severe bone and back pain. As your bones weaken, you are more susceptible to stress fractures, especially, in your legs, pelvis, and hips.
Deficiency of vitamin D also leads to increased tiredness, a feeling of overall pain, and a sense of not feeling well. You may also experience severe muscle pain or weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or an abnormal gait.
In 30% of people, muscle weakness is one of the earliest signs of vitamin D deficiency. At this stage, the condition is reversible and can be easily treated with vitamin D and calcium supplementation.3
A study has shown that the lack of vitamin D can lead to depression and anxiety. Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating your mood and warding off depression. Vitamin D supplements are known to improve depression symptoms in many.4
Vitamin D is important for a normal brain function, and helps treat depression and other mental illnesses. Hence, vitamin D deficiency is responsible for depression in some people.
Always talk to your doctor if you think you have depression and find the right treatment.
4. Excessive Sweating
Of all vitamin D deficiency symptoms, there is one that stands out to be weird. In older times, doctors apparently used to ask new mothers if their heads were sweatier than normal. This was done to check for a lurking vitamin D deficiency.
Does your child have sweaty hands? This is possibly a sign of the most prominent and dangerous form of vitamin D deficiency in children – Rickets. Found mostly in children who are vitamin D deficient, the symptoms of subclinical rickets include head sweating, hair tenderness, and legs giving out.5
5. Delay In Healing Ability
Vitamin D controls genes that promote the creation of antimicrobial compounds. These compounds are used by the immune system to fight off wound infections. When you have a vitamin D deficiency, your immune function can get compromised, making you more susceptible to potentially harmful bacteria and other foreign invaders.
To prove this point further, a comprehensive test was conducted. The test results showed that those who had ulcers on their legs had a vitamin D deficiency compared to participants with no wounds. Participants who were treated with vitamin D supplements saw a decrease in the size of the ulcer. On the other hand, those who weren’t administered such supplements saw no significant change.
As such, researchers concluded that patients with wounds are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency, and that they tend to heal in a more effective way when they take up specific measures to counter their deficiencies.6
Who Is At Risk Of Vitamin D Deficiency?
Not everybody can have a vitamin D deficiency. However, there are a few common risk factors that point to the fact that you can have such a deficiency. These risk factors are:
- If you have a dark skin tone.
- If you’re aged 50 or older.
- If you’re overweight or obese.
- If you don’t include vitamin D-rich foods in your diet.
- If you’re living away from the equator where there is less sunlight year-round.
- If you prefer staying indoors most of the time.
How Can You Treat Vitamin D Deficiency?
Now that you know how important it is to have sufficient vitamin D levels to maintain a healthy stay, it is also vital that you know what’s the best way forward if your vitamin D levels do drop. Fortunately, a vitamin D deficiency is easy to treat. You can either increase your sunlight exposure or eat more vitamin D-rich foods.
Vitamin D forms in your skin in response to sunlight, but make sure you avoid burning or over-exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is also found in foods such as fish, eggs, beef liver, cheese, dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.
|↑1||Raloff, Janet. “Understanding vitamin D deficiency.” Science News Online (April 30).|
|↑2||Aranow, Cynthia. “Vitamin D and the immune system.” Journal of investigative medicine 59, no. 6 (2011): 881-886.|
|↑3||Rasheed, Khalid, Pooja Sethi, and Eric Bixby. “Severe vitamin D deficiency induced myopathy associated with rhabydomyolysis.” North American journal of medical sciences 5, no. 5 (2013): 334.|
|↑4||Jorde, R., M. Sneve, Y. Figenschau, J. Svartberg, and K. Waterloo. “Effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects: randomized double blind trial.” Journal of internal medicine 264, no. 6 (2008): 599-609.|
|↑5||Vitamin D. NHS.|
|↑6||Burkiewicz, Claudine Juliana Cristina Caznoch, Fernanda Ampesaan Guadagnin, Thelma Laroka Skare, Marcelo Mazza do Nascimento, Santiago Cirilo Nogueira Servin, and Gleim Dias de Souza. “Vitamin D and skin repair: a prospective, double-blind and placebo controlled study in the healing of leg ulcers.” Revista do Colégio Brasileiro de Cirurgiões 39, no. 5 (2012): 401-407.|