The sunshine vitamin, also known as vitamin D, is something your body needs, but you may not be getting enough of it. About 42% of the population is deficient in vitamin D. You may not know you’re lacking this important nutrient. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that contributes to many different functions in our body. It affects our immune system, mood, and can help to prevent the development of cancer. It’s mostly known for promoting our bone health. Vitamin D helps the cells in our gut absorb calcium, which leads to strong bones. Let’s look at the role vitamin D plays to our overall health and 5 signs of vitamin D deficiency below.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is different from all the other vitamins because it is acts as a hormone. It affects many different functions by regulating over 200 genes in the body. Our bodies make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. We can get most vitamins and minerals from a proper diet, but vitamin D is an exception. This is one reason many people may not know they are vitamin D deficient.
Very few foods contain vitamin D, so getting sun is vital to helping you get your recommended daily allowance. Taking vitamin D supplements is another option as well. Many people who have limited access to the sun take supplements in order to get their daily dose of the vitamin. In today’s society, many of us spend more time indoors than outside, something that can often factor into a deficiency in vitamin D.
Sign #1: Getting sick often
Vitamin D plays many roles, and one of them is keeping the immune system strong. When we have a strong and healthy immune system, our bodies can fight off bacteria and viruses that can cause illness. It’s involved in the production of the antimicrobial peptides defensins and cathelicidin that help your immune system’s defend against bacterial infection. When your body does not have enough vitamin D, the immune system cannot perform at its best. If you get sick often, lack of vitamin D may be the cause.
Sign #2: Experiencing fatigue
Having low levels of vitamin D affects your energy level. If you get a lot of sleep and still feel drained, think about getting more sun and eating foods rich in vitamin D such as mushrooms. Vitamin D has been shown to decrease fatigue and increase the amount of energy a person has.
Sign #3: Having high blood pressure
Vitamin D helps regulate blood pressure in the kidneys. When you have an insufficient amount of vitamin D in your system this can cause high blood pressure. The world’s largest study exploring the link between vitamin D and hypertension showed that over 155,000 people with high levels of vitamin D had lower bold pressures and a reduced risk of hypertension. If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels. Those of us with higher vitamin D levels tend to have lower blood pressure. We are also less likely to develop hypertension.
Sign #4: Struggling with bone pain/bone loss
Vitamin D has an important role in promoting strong healthy bones. It facilitates the absorption of calcium and other minerals in the gastrointestinal tract. When your body lacks vitamin D, it can be difficult to maintain proper calcium and phosphorus levels in bones. This can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Rickets is the softening and weakening of bones in children due to a deficiency in vitamin D. Osteomalacia is rickets for adults. People can also develop osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become weak and brittle. Maintaining an adequate level of vitamin D is important in maintaining your bone health.
Sign #5: Experiencing depression
Are you feeling depressed? A lack of vitamin D may be the cause. Vitamin D has receptor sites and associated enzymes in many regions of the brain. Research has shown that United States residents ages 15-39 who had 50 nmol/L or less of serum vitamin D had a significantly higher risk of showing signs of depression than individuals who had serum vitamin D levels of 75 nmol/L or higher. Another study with depressed and vitamin D deficient adolescents, showed an improvement in depressive symptoms, irritability and fatigue over a three-month period when they took vitamin D3.
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It’s vital to your overall health and well-being to get the recommended levels of vitamin D so your body can function appropriately. It’s more than a vitamin: it acts as a hormone and regulates many functions in your body and controls how your body responds to certain stimuli. Going out and getting sun is the effective way to improve your intake. Allow your body to perform at its peak and get some vitamin D.