Of all the numerous vitamins, minerals, and nutrients required for the body to function properly, vitamin D often thought of as the most critical. Interestingly, millions of us are completely unaware that we are living with a vitamin D deficiency. Although there are distinct symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency, most people have never been educated as to what they are.
As if you didn’t need another excuse to get out and enjoy the summer sun, the body receives vitamin D primarily through sunlight. We also find vitamin D in our supplements and diet as well. When exposure is inadequate however, a deficiency can ensue. Of all deficiencies, this is the one most commonly seen in both adults and children. In fact, it is relatively common for pregnant women to have a deficiency, which must be corrected to avoid problems with the fetus to include skeletal deformity, growth retardation, and higher risk of hip fractures as an adult.
Careful though, we’ve also seen that expecting moms should be careful of taking in too much vitamin D – let your physician help you determine the best plan for you.
Multiple studies have been conducted to determine people at greatest risk and the findings are astounding. For example, people who live at high latitudes are at greater risk. Because of the sun’s position, it is an inadequate source of vitamin D. In addition, people who do not consume enough foods that contain vitamin D or those who do not take supplements are also at high risk for developing a deficiency.
Do I Have A Deficiency In Vitamin D?
There are several symptoms to watch for to know if low vitamin D levels exist – but watch closely as most are quite subtle. Also keep in mind that some of these symptoms could be related to other health-related problems but if someone experiences even one, it would be worth visiting a doctor for testing – which only requires a simple blood sample.
Some of the more common symptoms of a deficiency include the following:
- Muscle Weakness – Because skeletal muscles need vitamin D to function properly, a deficiency would feel to you like weakness.
- Flu-Like Symptoms – A deficiency can also produce symptoms similar to having the flu, especially respiratory problems.
- Extreme Fatigue – Low vitamin D may also cause overwhelming fatigue, often to the point of making it impossible to work, attend school, or manage daily responsibilities.
Dangers and Risks Associated With Vitamin D Deficiency
Following are some examples of health problems that can develop or worsen in direct correlation with a deficiency of vitamin D.
1. Cardiovascular Disease – Of all risk associated with a vitamin D deficiency, cardiovascular disease is at the top of the list. While his is a real risk for men, it is especially dangerous for women. In fact, several studies show that women experience a 67% increased risk of developing hypertension with low vitamin D.
2. Psoriasis – Multiple studies have confirmed risk of psoriasis in someone with a deficiency.
3. Chronic Kidney Disease – Because people with chronic kidney disease are often incapable of producing an active form of vitamin D, deficiency is of real concern. If not addressed, there is additional risk of high parathyroid hormone levels and renal bone disease.
4. Diabetes – Whether a child or adult, those of us with Type 1 Diabetes are at risk for severe problems if a vitamin D deficiency exists.
5. Asthma – The severity of asthma can quickly worsen in people with a vitamin D deficiency.
6. Periodontal Disease – Defense compounds that contain microbial properties to lower the amount of bacteria in the mouth are compromised by a vitamin D deficiency, which leads to gum swelling and bleeding
7. Mental Health Issues – Particularly depression and schizophrenia are concerns with low vitamin D.
8. Cognitive Function – In older people, there is noted cognitive impairment and in children, the development of neuromuscular issues.
9. Cancer – Although there are several types of cancer that have been linked to a vitamin D deficiency, a great deal of focus has been on breast cancer. The reason is that experts have discovered that the growth of breast cancer cells can be controlled more effectively when a proper level of vitamin D is maintained.
There are many health-related issues linked to a vitamin D deficiency. The best reassurance we can offer is that a vitamin D deficiency is very easy to correct –spending 10-15 minutes a day outside can give you all the vitamin D that you need.
Even more, spending time in the sun will also give you an excuse to get and out and exercise – which we’ve heard can have a health benefit or two in itself!
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