The “sunshine” vitamin is a hot topic. You may have recently found out that you are deficient or know someone who is. It’s shocking for most people when they have never had a problem before and believe nothing has changed to make it a problem now.
The truth is that a lot has changed, and vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is now a global public health problem affecting an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.
The majority of our knowledge about vitamin D has been discovered over the past 15 years, and with the growing issue of deficiencies, more health connections with vitamin D levels are being made. Correcting vitamin D deficiency is not as simple as taking a pill or getting more sun.
Whether you get pricked or decide to pass, here are the top 7 signs that you might be d-ficient.
Excessive sweating. It’s often difficult to tell if newborns are deficient, but a sweaty forehead is one of the first noticeable symptoms, Holick says. The same rings true for adults, so if you’re “glowing” while your activity level remains steady, your temperature is close to 98.6° and you’re in a moderate temperature environment, you may want to consider a vitamin D test.
Noticeable—and unexpected—weakness. Muscle strength isn’t just a matter of pumping iron. While having a vitamin D deficiency can leave you feeling overly exhausted, even when you’re able to get enough shut-eye, proper vitamin D intake helps you maintain power in every fiber of your being, whether you’re young or old. Harvard researchers have linked vitamin D supplementation with increased muscle control, resulting in 20% fewer falls among adults around 60 years old.
Broken bones. You stop building bone mass around age 30, and a lack of vitamin D can speed up or worsen osteoporosis symptoms, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Fortification, first introduced around 1930, almost eradicated the weak bone condition rickets, however, “it’s nearly impossible for anyone to satisfy vitamin D needs through diet. It really requires a three-pronged attack: sun exposure, supplements, and food,” Holick says.
Impaired Immune System. In case the vitamin D levels become low, our immune system becomes inextricably affected. A high concentration of vitamin D receptors could be found in the immune cells, which is the area of the body that requires sufficient vitamin D supplementation. In a Japanese study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, to schoolchildren were given vitamin D supplements that were recorded fewer instances of the flu strain influenza A than those who didn’t receive supplements. In one other study, persons diagnosed with an autoimmune disease were also tested for low levels of D vitamin.
Chronic pain. “It’s often subtle, but some experience aches and pains in the bones, known as osteomalacia,” Holick says. Those who are diagnosed with arthritis or fibromyalgia may actually be shy of enough D, as a deficiency can cause joints and muscles to ache, too. If your discomfort lasts for several weeks, ask your doctor if a vitamin D deficiency could be the cause—and if your treatment program should include the vitamin. Also worth noting: adequate vitamin D can prevent post-workout pain and increase the speed of muscle recovery, Beggarly adds.
A down-in-the-dumps mood. A depression diagnosis is often actually linked to a shortage of vitamin D. While the jury is still out about why, the Vitamin D Council says that the mineral may work in the same brain areas—and impact the same hormones, like serotonin—as those that affect mood.
Gut Troubles. Certain gastrointestinal conditions can affect the vitamin D absorption. Those with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and other conditions, are more prone to a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency due to these interactions. Moreover, those with high amounts of body fat are more disposed to vitamin D deficiency as fat dilutes the vitamin and reduces its physiological effects.