Vitamin D deficiency can sneak up on us in the darker months of the year. But can happen any time of the year, particularly if you work indoors during the brightest part of the day. In this post, you’ll learn about the signs of vitamin D deficiency and the simple ways to reverse it.
I received some interesting health news earlier this week which provided some much-needed insight into why I'd been feeling a certain way lately.
Aside from my rather busy schedule, I've been feeling tired, moody, unable to focus, kind of down, etc. Symptoms I was mostly ignoring, attributing my relatively busy lifestyle to them. Okay, very busy lifestyle.
So what came back is that I'm extremely vitamin D deficient. How could this happen? I take a supplement every day, I eat plenty of seafood, I think I get outside enough. Or do I?
In today's working world, we, as a collective unit, do not get enough vitamin D in our system. We're simply not outside as much as we used to be. I mean, how could we be? Children have school between the hours of 8-3, and most adults with standard jobs, work the hours of 8-5 or longer. The only time we have to be outside is, if we're lucky, on the weekends (weather and season permitting). So it should be no surprise to anyone if they get their levels tested and they come back as deficient.
Aside from not having enough exposure to sunlight, there are other factors that may play a role in deficiency.
Causes of vitamin D deficiency
Those who follow a strict vegan diet, may not be getting the required vitamin D, as most sources come from animals. So if you're vegan, this is especially important for you.
Lack of sunlight:
Those who spend a lot of time indoors or live in northern latitudes may not get as much exposure to the sun and therefore produce less vitamin D.
When you have digestive issues such as IBS, Crohn's, and Celiac's in particular, the ability to properly absorb nutrients from food is compromised.
"Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into the circulation. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D."
Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to significantly affect the older population. It can aggravate osteoporosis, reduces longevity, increases the risk of cardiovascular problems, and may also increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Some populations are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency as the pigment melanin in dark skin does not absorb as much UV radiation, so it's especially important to supplement.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency?
Most of us get used to feeling a certain way and believe that it's normal. But it's anything but normal to feel down all the time and it may have a lot to do with a lack of vitamin D.
This is such a broad symptom and is generally overlooked as a potential cause of vitamin D deficiency. "Fatigue is a vague but common complaint that is poorly characterized by physicians as well as patients. While fatigue may result from a number of different etiologies, at the present time, a comprehensive approach to each patient with fatigue does not include routine measurement of serum vitamin D levels."
Vitamin D is fat-soluble and often times gut disturbances such as Crohn's, Celiac's, and NCGS (Non -Celiac Gluten Sensitivity) can impair the proper absorption of fat. "Vitamin D deficiency decreases the production of defensins, which are anti-microbial molecules essential to maintain healthy gut flora. As expected, an oral supply of a synthetic defensin recovers gut bacteria balance, decreases blood sugar levels, and improves fatty liver."
What do you think of when you see the words bone health? Calcium, right? Well, that's one part of it. In order for calcium to be properly absorbed, we need vitamin D to be present. Bone density is not something most young people have to think about, however, as the years creep on, particularly for women, this can become an issue.
Do you pull out entire strands of hair when showering? Me too. Sometimes I wonder how I have any hair left at all. But now things are starting to make sense for me. Hair loss has been associated with vitamin D deficiency.
If you're getting a little dewy when you're at rest without much strain, this may be another sign that something is off. Excessive sweating, particularly on the head, has been associated with low vitamin D levels.
So you get cold after cold and they last significantly longer than you recall. Several studies have shown a link between weakened immune systems and vitamin D deficiency.
So of course, now we get to the part of, okay so what do you do? If you want to go the absolute proper path, I would recommend getting a blood test first and foremost to see if you are truly vitamin D deficient. Chances are, if you're healthy overall and have a good diet, live in Hawaii, and surf all day, this is not a concern for you. But if like me, you spend lots of time indoors and didn't realize it, you may want to look into a potential deficiency. In the meantime, here are some really simple things you can do.
How to reverse vitamin D deficiency
I can already hear the excuses. But the truth is, you can probably find 10 minutes to go for a walk at the office or if you work from home, put on sneakers and go for a little walk. If you're a busy mom, put the kid/kids in the stroller and take them for a walk. Not only will you get much-needed sun exposure, but walking is miraculous for a little mind reset. Win-win, if you ask me.
Eat the right foods
When it comes to nutrition, this is an easy one for me but may be more challenging for someone who is following a vegan or vegetarian diet. If your diet includes animal products make sure you eat plenty of eggs, sardines, mackerel, tuna, salmon, raw milk (if not df), and mushrooms.
One thing I invested in earlier this year was an artificial light therapy lamp. I got this one but there are several options if you shop around. If you’re affected by vitamin D deficiency, this alone can make a substantial impact.
A good supplement
All supplements are not created equal. I've been taking a tablet supplement for years and it has not been beneficial. Recently I started taking a high potency supplement. Also, cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamin D. An important thing to consider with cod liver oil is ensuring you invest in a quality supplement. As you would with any seafood, make sure it's from a wild-caught source. The liver is the filtration organ so you don't want to cause yourself more harm than good.
These are applicable steps you can take right away if you think you might be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. And again, I'll stress the fact that knowing exactly where you are might be beneficial. I had absolutely no idea until my new doctor suggested that we take a look at those numbers.
It's not going to be an overnight solution as it can take several weeks for your levels to come back up, but at least you'll be moving in the right direction.
Depression is always my first indicator I better soak up some more sun!
Same here, Melissa. I'm with you there...
This is a very real issue here in the far north of Idaho...we don't see much of the sun for a good portion of the year! These tips are IMPERATIVE for us keeping our stores up! Great post!
Thanks so much, Jason! And symptoms can easily sneak up on us! I'm glad you found it useful!
Vit D is so important! Great tips- I wish I lived somewhere with more sun to make it easy:P
Me too, Shelby! It would make things so much easier!
Carol Little R.H.
Good article Daniela. Thanks for including the references. I looked for them at the end of the article and then found them, linked in the article itself. I always appreciate 'sources' being included for my own reference and further reading. Vitamin D Drops are a wonderful product (I'm not sure if I missed which product you are taking) You can definitely take 10,000 iu especially when deficient or if fighting a cold/flu virus. Check out the Vitamin D book written by Toronto MD Zoltan Rona.. Lots of insight there. Let me know if you are interested and have an issue finding it. I will see him next weekend and find you a copy locally. Hope you feel better soon!
Yes, I like to generally include them right in it so they can be easily accessed. I will be sure to look into this article you mentioned! I'm very interested! 🙂
1 is o helpful, especially if you can do that. I've been trying to push myself to do this everyday, at least for a little while. We all deserve that ... thank you for the reminder!
Thanks Emily! I agree...even a little makes a very big difference overall!
So interesting. I also have vitamin D deficiency (levels should be 50 ng/ml, but mine is 9 ng/ml). I was on Calciferol for a while, but stopped because I heard it's hard on your liver. You've made me think I better get to the doctor and also look at my diet more carefully. Really enjoying your blog 🙂 Thank you.
Thanks so much for following along! That means a lot! My levels are currently at 32 and I think these liquid drops are working much better than pills. I take 8000 IUs or 4 drops 🙂
What were your levels when you first found out if you don't mind me asking? Think I'll definitely try the drops and your other advice. Thanks!
Oh they were 32 when I first found out and I won't know for a couple months where I am until I get re-tested!
Great write-up! I've struggled with this on and off in life. It is such a common and important thing to be aware of!
Thank you my friend!! Yes, it gets so cold and dark here in the winter months, anything helps!!
This is wonderful information! I need to get my levels checked! Thank you for posting!
I'm so happy you found this useful, Kimberly! I was shocked and hadn't expected that to be the case for me!