Do You Have Enough Of This Vitamin? Read Time: 4 minutes
Vitamin D is a critical, fat-soluble compound that helps the body process essential nutrients. These nutrients include calcium and phosphorus. The body produces 90% of vitamin D by absorbing sunlight through the skin. That’s why vitamin D is commonly known as the sunshine vitamin. Although sunshine is everywhere, more than 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D-deficient. The average American spends 90% of the day indoors, which may contribute to low levels. But is a vitamin D deficiency a big deal?
Is vitamin D deficiency serious?
Without a doubt, any vitamin deficiency can cause a range of health issues. This vitamin is no different. Vitamin D is crucial for bones, muscle health, brain health, weight, and a robust immune system. Inadequate vitamin D levels can impact multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart health, and even fertility. While a deficiency is hard to pin down, there are 3 common signs that a doctor needs to get involved.
1. Oh, those aches and pains!
Muscle pain and bone pain are the most common signs of low vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb and synthesize calcium. Low vitamin D can cause adult rickets, a form of intense bone pain. This can lead to osteoporosis, a bone disease that causes brittleness and fractures with the simplest of falls. Unexplained muscle pain is also a result of low vitamins. Vitamin D is a crucial factor in muscle strength and function. Sudden muscle pain that’s not a result of exercise is a sign to check with a doctor.
2. An unexplained low mood
More than 6% of American adults suffer from some form of depression. The topic of vitamin D and depression brings a chicken-and-egg question. Studies dispute that low vitamin D causes depression. However, other research confirms vitamin D supplementation can improve mood. Vitamin D has a direct impact on serotonin and dopamine production. These neurotransmitters directly impact mood. The added issue of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the winter can be linked to low vitamin D. Prolonged periods of feeling blue should prompt a conversation with a doctor.
3. One too many colds
Can’t seem to escape the flu season unscathed? Constant colds and flu are a sign of a weak immune system. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and supports white blood cells. If the delicate immune system misfires, colds, flu, and diseases like multiple sclerosis can happen. Get a blood test from a doctor to gauge vitamin levels and get a much-needed boost.
How to stay vitamin D-rich
As few as 20 minutes in the sun during the spring and summer months is enough for a daily dose of vitamin D. This does not overrule proper sun protection, so make sure to wear sunscreen beforehand. Colder, darker seasons, however, may prompt a need for a vitamin D supplement. Persons with severe vitamin D deficiencies must see a doctor immediately. A doctor will prescribe a more potent oral supplement for 8 weeks. There are not many food sources of vitamin D. However, fatty fish, mushrooms, fortified milk, and cereals contain the compound. Make sure to add these to a healthy diet. But remember, food cannot replace direct sunlight.
Take action today
Take these 3 signs seriously and consult a doctor right away. Vitamin D deficiencies may not present right away. However, research suggests a lack of the nutrient creates a host of medical issues. These include cardiovascular disease, weak immunity, poor bone health, and even depression. Speak with a pharmacist or doctor for a supplement and start catching some more sun rays.