You’ve probably heard it said that vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin.” Why? Well, your body makes vitamin D when your skin is directly exposed to sunlight. Pretty unique, right?
Since the body produces vitamin D on its own (with a little help from sunshine), you’d think that vitamin D deficiency would be a rare occurrence. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In fact, vitamin D deficiency has been flagged as a major concern in the region; particularly South East Asia.
Vitamin D plays an essential role in many of your body’s systems. Understanding the risks and signs of vitamin D deficiency is imperative to living a full and healthy life.
SO, WHAT EXACTLY DOES VITAMIN D DO?
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for a wide array of your body’s functions. It supports the health of your:
- Heart, and
- Immune system
A lack of vitamin D may also play a role in your body’s inflammatory processes. Inflammation is your body’s response to perceived threats, and chronic inflammation can lead to serious health problems.
Vitamin D is also crucial to how your body uses calcium. It allows your intestine to absorb calcium from dietary sources, and helps your bones maintain a steady amount of calcium to maintain their strength and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
If you’re concerned that you may have low levels of vitamin D, keep an eye out for these symptoms:
1. FEELING TIRED OR SLEEPY
If you find yourself yawning throughout the day, you may want to get your vitamin D levels tested. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with daytime sleepiness, and studies have shown that a vitamin D supplement may help boost energy.
2. GETTING SICK OFTEN
Vitamin D plays a major role in the body’s immune system by boosting the health of the skin, eyes, urinary tract, respiratory system, and intestines.
If you struggle with frequent respiratory infections or other bugs, you may want to increase your intake of vitamin D to help support your immune system.
3. INTESTINAL ISSUES
Recurring gastrointestinal issues can be indicative of vitamin D deficiency, as suggested through a 2015 study where 82% of patients with complaints of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) were also found to have been lacking the vitamin.
4. BACK PAIN
Back pain can be caused by heavy lifting with poor technique / form, or even from a bad night’s sleep. Scientific studies have now demonstrated that inadequate vitamin D levels are linked with back pain, particularly in older populations and those with lower than average bone density.
5. TOOTH DECAY
A 2013 medical review found that vitamin D may play an important role in preventing tooth decay. So consider increasing your vitamin D intake lest you find yourself spending hours (and a small fortune) in the dentist’s chair!
6. HAIR LOSS
Among the many causes of hair loss is imbalanced nutrition. Scientific studies have so far identified two types of hair loss associated with low vitamin D levels:
If you’re concerned about one of these types of hair loss, you may want to increase your intake of vitamin D.
7. CHRONIC MUSCLE PAIN
Living with chronic pain affects nearly every facet of your life including your energy levels, emotional health, and your ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Vitamin D may be able to help to reduce certain types of chronic pain.
A study done in 2014 found that, among 174 patients with chronic pain, a staggering 71% were deficient in vitamin D while another 21% had insufficient levels of vitamin D. It’s thought that vitamin D may impact how your body processes ongoing pain, with low levels of vitamin D apparently increasing pain sensitivity.
So if you’re living with ongoing pain, you may want to consider having your vitamin D levels tested through a medical provider.
8. LOW MOOD
Inadequate levels of vitamin D are strongly associated with feelings of sadness and lethargy. A study has found that vitamin D supplements may actually be helpful in boosting mood and maintaining emotional health.
9. SLOW WOUND HEALING
Your skin has the amazing ability to repair itself after it’s been damaged. However, wounds like cuts and scrapes healing more slowly than they should may be caused by a vitamin D deficiency.
During wound healing, vitamin D works together with a small protein called transforming growth factor beta 1 and direct cells to begin rebuilding tissue and regenerating skin. Increasing your vitamin D intake can help support your body’s natural healing processes.
Headaches can have a variety of causes. And like other manifestations of pain, they’re strongly associated with insufficient levels of vitamin D.
It’s certainly beginning to look like pain and low levels of vitamin D are closely related, isn’t it?
GETTING ENOUGH OF THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN
Your body works in miraculous ways like manufacturing its own supply of vitamin D. Unfortunately, many factors – both within and beyond your control – can interfere with your body’s ability to do this. If you’re concerned you may have a serious vitamin D deficiency, consult with your doctor. In the meantime, vitamin D supplements are a great way to ensure your body is truly getting the “sunshine” it needs.