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Did you know that one BILLION people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D & that this important vitamin can play a vital role in the health of our body?
As we start heading into the warmer months, here are some tips on how to optimise on the power of the sun, & other methods, to increase the levels of this very important vitamin in our bodies.
To optimize your health and make sure you’re getting plenty, here are 13 signs, symptoms and risk factors for Vitamin D deficiency:
#1 It’s Winter And You Live In The Northern Latitudes
Many countries in the Northern hemisphere experience long periods of darkness during the winter months. This extended time deprived of sunlight can be enough to cause Vitamin D deficiency in some of us.
If you do live within such areas, it may be helpful to get your Vitamin D levels tested at the start and end of winter, so you can supplement accordingly, if needed.
#2 Achy Bones
Most of us would relate to that feeling of bone-deep weariness that follows a few days of heightened physical exertion, such as moving house or participating in a sporting competition.
However, if you feel achy in your joints and bones persistently, this can sometimes indicate a Vitamin D deficiency.
#3 You Have A Gastrointestinal Disease Or Issues With Absorption
Dietary Vitamin D has one gateway into your body; the gut.
Therefore, if your gut is inflamed, diseased or absorbing food inefficiently, this can compromise your Vitamin D status.
For anybody with Crohn’s disease, celiac disease or other inflammatory bowel disorders, it can be a good idea to routinely monitor your Vitamin D levels.
#4 Muscle Malaise
Notice that your reps have dropped a little in the gym or you’re not feeling as strong as usual for no apparent reason? It may be time to check your Vitamin D levels!
A subtle muscle malaise can be one of the many symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. Given that Vitamin D is a hormone, it has receptors widely spread throughout the body – including your muscles.
In its metabolically active state, Vitamin D can enter muscle cells to support contraction of your muscle fibers. Aside from supporting muscle function, this aids in the prevention of falls as we age and helps us to carry out everyday physical activities.
#5 You’ve Got The Blues
When we visually perceive sunlight, receptors in our eyes trigger the brains to produce serotonin, which is often called the ‘happiness hormone’.
Serotonin levels increase when we see natural sunlight but drop off if we are spending our time indoors or in the dark.
A 2006 study highlighted that elderly patients with low Vitamin D were a whopping11 times more likely to have depression than their peers who had acceptable levels.
#6 Following A Strictly Vegan Diet
As mentioned, most of our dietary sources of Vitamin D come from animal-based sources. Smaller amounts come from select vegan foods, but not at a high enough dose to be clinically significant.
If you’re currently following a vegan diet, it may be particularly helpful to monitor your Vitamin D levels and consider the non-food recommendations which are coming up soon!
#7 You Get Every Cold And Flu
Science shows us that even immune cells contain Vitamin D receptors, demonstrating that Vitamin D exerts some level of influence over our immunity.
One study found that Vitamin D3 supplementation of children during the winter months decreased the outbreaks of flu.
So if you’re getting sniffly more often than you’d like, it could be due to lack of Vitamin D!
#8 You Spend A Lot Of Time Indoors
As UV rays are the body’s primary source of Vitamin D, it stands to reason that anyone who doesn’t spend much time outside is at heightened risk of developing a deficiency.
People who are homebound due to mental or physical ailment, those of us who work in jobs that don’t allow natural sun exposure or anyone experiencing a long period of convalescence is therefore, more likely to be Vitamin D deficient.
Dr. Mercola also points out that “while laying on a glass patio or soaking up rays through a window may feel good on your skin, the warmth that comes through is deceiving because vitamin D-producing UVB rays cannot pass through glass. So you’ll get absolutely no boost to your vitamin D levels if the sunlight passes through a window before hitting your skin.”
#9 You Wear Long Robes And Head Coverings For Religious Reasons (Or Otherwise)
The skin must be directly exposed to sunlight in order to activate Vitamin D. Clothing, sunscreen and even glass will inhibit this natural process.
Furthermore, the hands, neck, face and shoulders are often recommended as zones to expose to the sun for short, brief periods to gain Vitamin D.
If you routinely wear clothing that covers your skin, it can be a wise idea to check your Vitamin D.
#10 Your BMI Is Higher Than 30
As mentioned earlier, Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. This makes Vitamin D more ‘compatible’ with the fat cells in your body and as Vitamin D circulates around your bloodstream, fat cells can uptake Vitamin D, making less available for the rest of your body where it is needed.
This has led some experts to believe that people with greater body weight may have higher Vitamin D requirements.
#11 Your Skin Is Naturally Dark
A pigment called melanin is responsible for darkening the color of our skin. However, melanin also acts as a natural sunblock and impairs our skin’s production of Vitamin D with sunlight.
In fact, people with dark skin may need up to ten times more sun exposure to produce the same quantity of Vitamin D as people with fair skin. While this isn’t a recommendation for anybody with darker skin to sunbathe for ten times longer, it does highlight that there can be quite a big difference in terms of this endogenous production.
#12 You’ve Had 70 Birthdays, Or More
People over the age of 70 are able to make about one third less Vitamin D than their younger counterparts after sitting in the sun.
Indeed, even after 50 years the kidneys can become less proficient at metabolizing inactive Vitamin D into its active state.
#13 You Get The Forehead Sweats!
It sounds like an odd symptom but a sweaty forehead has often been used as a telltale sign that newborn babies aren’t getting enough Vitamin D.
However, this symptom still applies well into your adult years. So if you perspire frequently on your forehead without exertion, a hot environment or other explanatory factors, it could be time to check your Vitamin D!