Did you know that vitamin D is not really a vitamin at all? It’s a steroid hormone which our body produces when we are exposed to enough sunshine, and we can partially receive it through certain foods and supplements. That’s why it’s also called the sunshine vitamin, and having enough vitamin D in your body is essential for your overall health. Vitamin D deficiency is very common in the US, but many people misinterpret the signals and believe they have high levels of vitamin D because they consume food rich in vitamin D (like milk).
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention calculated that as much as 32 % of the population in the US has vitamin D deficiency and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey discovered that 50 % of children aged 1-5 years, and 70% of children between the ages of 6 and 11, are deficient or insufficient in vitamin D.
The most astonishing statistic might be that scientists estimate that as much as 50% of the population in the US is at risk of vitamin D deficiency. These numbers are incredible if you know that you get the vitamin from simply being in the sun.
Vitamin D deficiency is a very serious condition which can cause many health problems. Among other, people with low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of death from a cardiovascular disease, breast, colon and prostate cancer, they are more likely to gain weight, suffer from depression, develop cognitive impairment in older adults or severe asthma in children and many more.
Producing enough vitamin D can help you prevent and treat an array of conditions, such as type1and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D is crucial for stronger and healthier bones, it boosts the immune system and fights infections, improves circulation and heart condition. If you look at all these conditions and diseases vitamin D can prevent and treat it’s amazing how many people are not informed about the importance of this vitamin.
The only way to know for sure whether you suffer from vitamin D deficiency or not is to get your blood tested. But there are certain symptoms which if present may indicate a vitamin D deficiency, so if you recognize some of the following symptoms you should get tested
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
- If you have darker skin you’ll more likely prone to vitamin D deficiency, because people with darker skin need 10 times more sun exposure than people with lighter skin to produce the sufficient amount of vitamin D.
- If you feel depressed it’s possible that you don’t have enough vitamin D. When we are exposed to the sun our body secretes serotonin, the hormone which elevates our mood, and the levels of serotonin decrease with decreased sun exposure. In 2006 as a study on this subject, the impact, on the mental health, of vitamin D was examined among senior patients. The conclusion was that the lower the level of the vitamin D was the more the patients were prone to depression (11 times) in comparison with the ones who had normal doses.
- If your bones ache, if you frequently get fractures or breaks, it’s possible that you lack vitamin D in your system. German scientists have concluded that you have 31% higher chances for bone fractures if you suffer from this deficiency.
- Acid reflux, bloating and other gut problems have been linked to vitamin D deficiency. This vitamin is necessary for a healthy balance with the gut. Dr. Stasha Gominak, a Vitamin D specialist says that it can affect the entire GI tract. It can cause acid reflux, poor stomach emptying, bloating and constipation because just like us the healthy bacterium needs it to survive.
- Sleeping problems have also been linked to vitamin D deficiency. If you simply can’t seem to buzz off even when all the good night sleep criteria have been satisfied you should check your vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D levels can cause a plethora of sleeping disorders, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, unexplained awakenings and inappropriate body movements during sleep.
- Erectile dysfunction, this problem affects almost 30 million Americans, and it’s important to know that it may be caused by vitamin D deficiency. A study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine conducted in 2014 revealed that men who had severe problems with erectile dysfunction had much lower vitamin D levels than those with mild problems.
- If you frequently suffer from infections, seasonal flues, colds and similar illnesses it’s possible that you need more vitamin D. It’s known that vitamin D is necessary for a well-functioning immune system, and low levels may lead to weaker immune system. It has been concluded by a group of German scientists that high levels of Vitamin D can boost your ability to fight off viruses and infections five times.
- Sweaty head is one of the least known sign of a vitamin D deficiency, but it’s a sure indicator, so if you sweat excessively you should check it out.
If you’ve noticed one or more of the above mentioned symptoms you should test your blood to make sure. In case you do have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency there are a few things you can do to boost its productions.
The easiest, most enjoyable and interesting way to boost the production is probably through increased sun exposure. You should spend at least 15 minutes daily in the sun and you should expose at least 40% of your skin to the sun, not only the face and hands. Even though using sun screen is important for the prevention of skin cancer, it lowers your ability to produce vitamin D by 95%.
If you can’t get enough sun then you can concentrate on consuming more of the following foods: egg yolk, fish and seafood, beef, cod liver oil and fortified foods such as orange juice, cereals, yogurt, cow milk, goat milk.