Vitamin D deficiency refers to the lack of vitamin D intake from sunlight or nutrition in our body. As vitamin D is important for many organ systems, this condition can lead to serious health issues, such as broken bones, loss of bone density, and osteoporosis.
The recommended daily vitamin D intake for adults varies from 1,500-2,000 international units (IU). While several types of food (such as dairy and fatty food) contain this product, it is difficult to absorb from your diet alone. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies worldwide.
What makes vitamin D deficiency particularly tricky is that you may not get symptoms for several months or even years. Additionally, the symptoms are easy to attribute to other causes. Here are the most common signs of this deficiency:
Many factors can lead to fatigue, and vitamin D deficiency is one of the most overlooked ones. A 2020 study found a link between low vitamin D levels and issues like shorter sleep duration, delayed bedtimes, and poor sleep quality in children.
Supporting the immune system is one of the vital roles of vitamin D. Therefore, if you are frequently down with a cold or the flu, vitamin D deficiency may be the reason for your health struggles.
Vitamin D is crucial in addressing infections and controlling inflammation, which contributes to proper healing. If you experience slow wound healing after mild injuries, that may be a sign of low vitamin D levels in your body.
The vitamin D receptor is located in nerve cells called nociceptors, which are responsible for sensing pain. Since vitamin D is involved in your body’s pain-signaling pathways, low levels of this vitamin can contribute to chronic pain.
One of the main roles of vitamin D in the human body is to support our bone metabolism and calcium absorption. Insufficient amounts of it can often result in low bone mineral density and bone loss.
Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of developing various severe and even life-threatening health conditions. Here are a handful of diseases linked to long-term low vitamin D levels.
Optimal amounts of vitamin D support the immune system and help our body to avoid infections. Since the respiratory system is particularly susceptible to infections, low vitamin D levels can increase your risk of respiratory diseases.
The lack of vitamin D can decrease calcium absorption and worsen bone health. Osteoporosis is one of the most severe long-term consequences of vitamin D deficiency.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) happens in winter due to the lack of sunshine as the primary source of vitamin D. Low levels of this vitamin are associated with mental health issues, especially depression.
Experts have found a link between the metabolic role of vitamin D and insulin sensitivity, which can be attributed to this vitamin’s anti-inflammatory function. According to a 2017 study, low vitamin D levels can cause the breakdown of many cellular processes, leading to the onset of diabetes.
A 2014 study published in the journal Neurology concluded that older adults with moderate to severe vitamin D deficiency are at a doubled risk for certain forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Although there is no shortage of foods containing vitamin D, exposure to sunlight is the most effective natural way to increase your vitamin D levels. When you spend enough time in the sun, your body absorbs this vitamin directly through your skin and employs it in various bodily processes, such as maintaining bone strength and boosting the immune system.
Foods you should add to your diet to increase your vitamin D levels include:
Sun exposure is the most effective way of absorbing vitamin D, but you should also implement certain foods and supplements in your diet. This vitamin plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health, a good immune system, and other body functions.