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Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

There aren’t a whole lot of reliable symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency, which is why you should have your doctor do a blood test yearly as you age. Here are some things you can look for:

#1 Fatigue

Chronic exhaustion is one of the first symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. If you’re tired all day, have your doctor check your blood levels (there are also other conditions that cause fatigue, though).

#2 Muscle aches, weakness, or cramps

In one scientific study, 71% of patients with chronic pain were found to have vitamin D deficiency.

The vitamin D receptor is found in certain cells called nociceptors, which sense pain. One study in rats showed that a deficiency in vitamin D led to pain and sensitivity.

And a few human studies have shown that taking vitamin D supplements have helped people with chronic pain. Remember that aches and pains are your body’s way of signaling there’s something wrong.

#3 Bone and lower back pain

This would be a sign that you have a severe deficiency or have been deficient for a very long time. Pain results from a huge loss of calcium from the bone tissue, which takes time to develop. See your doctor at once.

#4 Getting frequent infections

Vitamin D directly interacts with the cells in your body that are responsible for fighting infection. Scientific studies have shown a link between low vitamin D levels and respiratory tract infections like colds, bronchitis, influenza, and pneumonia. If you find yourself getting sick often, have your doctor check your vitamin D levels.

wound - Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

#5 Slow wound healing

Test-tube studies suggest that vitamin D increases the levels of compounds in your body that are responsible for forming new skin during wound healing. It was also found that people with lower vitamin D levels are more likely to have higher levels of inflammatory markers that can get in the way of proper healing. If you notice you’re not healing well from a wound or surgery, have your doctor check your vitamin D levels.

#6 Mood changes like depression

Scientists don’t exactly know why vitamin D is associated with depression, but many depressed patients also have low vitamin D levels. The good news is, when you rectify the deficiency, the depression is also lessened a bit.

#7 Hair loss.

Hair loss in women has been linked to low vitamin D levels, but there is little scientific research on this to date.

An autoimmune disease called alopecia areata causes severe hair loss from the head and other parts of the body. This disease is associated with rickets, which we already said was a symptom of severe vitamin D deficiency in children. Low vitamin D levels may be a risk factor for the disease so have your doctor check your levels if you’re losing hair.

Images courtesy of:
kone kassoum, Corey Ryan Hanson, Pixabay

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Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Part 3 of Vitamin D Deficient Series
Pam Byc
Latest posts by Pam Byc (see all)

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

There are several reasons why you may be struggling with Vitamin D deficiency. In fact, as mentioned at the start of this series, over 1-billion people are Vitamin D deficient. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to detect, especially if you aren’t familiar with the symptoms. Let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons why this can happen:

#1 You don’t eat the kind of foods that support the development of Vitamin D.

Most of these foods are animal-based, like fish and fish oils, beef liver, egg yolks, and fortified milk products. If you’re a vegan, of course, you don’t eat these foods, so you’re likely to suffer from Vitamin D deficiency unless you consume supplements to make up for it.

#2 Your skin color is very dark.

The pigment (melanin) that makes your skin tan or dark reduces your skin’s ability to form Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. So, the darker your skin, the less likely it is to make Vitamin D even if you sunbathe.

#3 Your sunlight exposure is limited.

Since your skin only makes Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, you may be likely to have a deficiency if you don’t frequently go outside. If you’re homebound, for example, or work in a job that prevents sun exposure, you are at greater risk.

Living in northern latitudes can also do it, as wwell as wearing long robes and head coverings for religious reasons.

Smog or pollution can prevent you from getting enough sunlight. Even the season and time of day matter. Sunlight is strongest between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. And if you’re somewhere like Cleveland, Ohio, you’re not getting UV-B light for six months out of the year due to the ozone layer and position of the sun.

vitamin D deficiency

#4 Your digestive tract is unable to absorb Vitamin D or dietary fat.

Some medical conditions, like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and cystic fibrosis, can limit your intestine’s ability to actually absorb the Vitamin D you’ve consumed. Since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, this holds true for absorbing dietary fat as well.

#5 Your kidneys cannot convert Vitamin D to its active form.

As we age, our kidneys slow down, reducing your ability to convert Vitamin D into the active form your body needs. Kidney disease or damage can do the same thing, leading to Vitamin D deficiency.

#6 You are obese.

Fat cells extract Vitamin D from the blood, changing its release into circulation. If your body mass index is 30 or greater, you may be at serious risk for Vitamin D deficiency.

#7 You’ve had weight loss surgery.

Surgeries that reduce the size of the stomach or bypass sections of the digestive system can make it very hard to consume adequate amounts of Vitamin D, along with other vitamins and minerals. You’ll need to be carefully monitored by your doctor and will probably need to take Vitamin supplements for the rest of your life.

#8 You take certain medications.

There are several medications that can cause Vitamin D deficiency. These include laxatives, which (obviously) result in Vitamin D and other nutrients being flushed out of the digestive system before they are absorbed, and steroids, which reduce calcium absorption and impair Vitamin D metabolism.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins and colestipol (and oral cholesterol-lowering drugs) can also reduce Vitamin D synthesis because Vitamin D is derived from cholesterol.

Seizure control drugs like phenytoin and phenobarbital and rifampin (a tuberculosis drug) have also been known to affect Vitamin D levels. And orlistat (a weight-loss drug), can reduce Vitamin D absorption.

Additionally, thiazide diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and indapamide decrease urinary calcium excretion, so combining these drugs with Vitamin D supplements might cause hypercalcemia.

#9 You’re an older adult.

As we age, our skin’s ability to make Vitamin D from sunlight is lessened. Our kidneys also slow down, so you may have enough Vitamin D in your blood, but your kidneys just can’t change it into an active form your body can use.

Images courtesy of:
Fifaliana Joy, Alicia Harper, Pixabay

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Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

Part 2 of Vitamin D Deficient Series
Pam Byc
Latest posts by Pam Byc (see all)

Why You Need Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, especially as we grow older. It helps your body take calcium from the blood and use it to produce and repair bone and muscle tissues. It also helps your body regulate calcium levels in the blood.

Other health benefits include the following:

  • Helps the immune system thru the immune cells’ receptors that can synthesize the active Vitamin D metabolite or hormone.
  • Helps the parathyroid gland, which regulates the amount of calcium in the blood.
  • Helps in the communication between the intestines, kidneys, and skeleton so that your calcium levels are appropriate. If you have enough calcium in your blood, this vitamin will help your body use that calcium to form and strengthen your bones.

Modern research has been revealing many other health problems that proper Vitamin D levels can help protect against. These are:

  • Rickets. This is a childhood condition in which bone tissue never mineralizes properly, and the bones become soft and deformed.
  • Increased autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis. If you have enough of this vitamin in your blood, your immune system will work as designed to keep you from coming down with infections or autoimmune disorders.
  • Weakening of the bones. If you don’t have enough calcium, or if the Vitamin D levels are low, the parathyroid gland “borrows” it from the skeleton.

In the next post, we will be dealing with the “Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency“.

This site uses affiliate links with brands we trust, and if you make a purchase using a link, we may receive a commission.

Why You Need Vitamin D

Part 1 of Vitamin D Deficient Series
Pam Byc
Latest posts by Pam Byc (see all)