Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is involved in many essential body processes and functions. Produced in the body with the help of ultraviolet rays from sunlight, this vitamin is important for boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, promoting cell growth, supporting neuromuscular functions and more.
It also plays a key role in the prevention and treatment of different health issues, such as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.
When you do not get enough sunlight or eat foods rich in vitamin D, you are at a higher risk of suffering from vitamin D deficiency.
People who have dark skin, are over 50 years old and those who live in parts of the world where there are long periods of darkness usually have vitamin D deficiency.
If you are deficient in vitamin D, your body may not be able to function properly and you may experience many signs and symptoms. You can easily increase your vitamin D level with adequate sun exposure and diet.
- Daily exposure to early morning sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes without sunscreen will boost your vitamin D level.
- Get this vitamin from dietary sources, such as fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks and fortified dairy and grain products.
- You can take a vitamin D supplement, after consulting your doctor.
Here are the some signs that you may have a vitamin D deficiency.
1. Impaired Immunity
The most important sign of low vitamin D is weak or impaired immunity, causing you to more easily pick up illnesses.
Vitamin D supports proper functioning of the T cells that build immunity to help your body fight foreign, invading organisms.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine highlights that vitamin D helps modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses and its deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as increased susceptibility to infections.
2. Bone Pain
Vitamin D is important for bone, cartilage and muscle function. Lack of adequate vitamin D in the body can cause general muscle pain, muscle cramps and chronic joint pain.
Due to low vitamin D, calcium does not reach your skeletal system, thus contributing to bone pains.
In fact, its deficiency is also associated with diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. All these health issues have a common symptom – joint pain.
3. Tiredness and Fatigue
Your body needs vitamin D for energy. If you are constantly tired without any known reason, get your vitamin D level checked.
Low vitamin D leads to fat accumulation. This in turn lowers your metabolism rate and makes you less energetic.
A 2014 study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences suggests that by correcting your low vitamin D, you can significantly reduce the severity of fatigue symptoms.
4. Mood Swings
A deficiency of the sunshine vitamin can also lead to sudden mood swings. Vitamin D aids production of serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation and happiness. Increased serotonin can also help lessen the impact of stress and prevent or treat mild depression.
Deficiency of vitamin D may also relate to other affective disorders, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), premenstrual syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Studies have found that some people suffer from mild depression during the winter months, known as SAD, mainly due to lack of sun exposure.
Vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to psoriasis, an autoimmune skin disorder. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, appropriate sun exposure helps slow down the rate of growth and shedding of skin cells.
A 2013 study published in the Dermato-endocrinology journal suggests that autoimmunity has been associated with vitamin D deficiency and resistance.
This pilot study also concluded that high-dose vitamin D3 therapy might be effective and safe for vitiligo and psoriasis patients.
If you are diagnosed with psoriasis, get your vitamin D levels checked and ask your doctor about taking a daily dose of fermented cod liver oil.
6. Digestive Problems
When you suffer from a gastrointestinal condition, your body may not be able to absorb this fat-soluble vitamin. This can lead to a low vitamin D level in the body.
Gastrointestinal conditions may include Crohn’s, celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Vitamin D receptors are present on cells in the digestive tract and the immune system, where vitamin D can bind to these receptors and help your body function properly.
A 2011 study published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology showed a link between low vitamin D and gastrointestinal diseases as well as inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.