Vitamin D is better known as the "sunshine vitamin" because humans are able to synthesize much of their required intake through proper exposure to the sun. Vitamin D helps produce hormones responsible for regulating the body's calcium levels, so proper amounts of Vitamin D are essential for bone growth and maintenance, and deficiencies in this nutrient can cause many additional health problems. Understanding how to spot Vitamin D deficiency symptoms can help individuals avoid potentially catastrophic consequences of not getting enough of this vital nutrient.
Common Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin D Deficiency Syndrome (VDDS) is a group of symptoms that are typically associated with a vitamin deficiency. Although these symptoms may be indicators of other existing health-related problems, it is common to find one or more of the following symptoms in individuals who are afflicted with a vitamin D deficiency. While one or two of these signs do not necessarily indicate a Vitamin D deficiency, ongoing symptoms coupled with an indoor lifestyle and a personal or family history of osteoporosis or other bone disorders could indicate poor nutrient concentrations. Individuals who suspect a Vitamin D deficiency should seek a professional medical consultation to confirm any nutritional problems.
Vitamin D plays an important role in cardiovascular health. Some signs of a Vitamin D deficiency may include the following:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
Some people may also experience chest pains.
Vitamin D has long been linked to rickets, a condition that softens the bones in children. It may also be linked to soft or weakened bones in adults, which can lead to osteoporosis. Symptoms include the following:
- Bowed legs
- Bones that are fragile and easily broken
- Loss of height in adults
- Dowager's hump, resulting from micro-fractures in the spine
Newer research is beginning to suggest that low levels of Vitamin D may be linked to some changes in mood. This includes depression and feelings of sadness. In these studies, giving the participants Vitamin D without changing their other medications led to a lessening of depression symptoms.
A study done in 2007 found that Vitamin D levels may be linked to age-related macular degeneration. While many people with low levels of Vitamin D do not notice any changes in their vision, some people who have declining vision over time may find that this is linked to a deficiency in Vitamin D.
Muscle and Bone Pain
Muscle and bone pain that does not have another cause, such as illness or injury, may be caused by a deficiency in Vitamin D. In many cases, this pain is caused by an extreme deficiency in the vitamin.
Recent studies have found that Vitamin D is linked to better control of asthma symptoms. An increase in the severity of asthma symptoms, particularly among children, may be caused by low levels of Vitamin D.
One of the most currently discussed symptoms of low vitamin D has been discussed in a recent 2009 study authored by John Brehm, MD, from the Brigham and Women's Hospital and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (Vol. 179 (9); pp 765-71). This study discusses that it has been determined that there is a significant link between low vitamin D and common respiratory infections. This indicates that individuals with the lowest vitamin D levels have reported having a greater number of colds and flu than those with higher levels of vitamin D.
Related Diseases and Symptoms
Low levels of Vitamin D have also been linked to some autoimmune diseases. In fact, low levels of Vitamin D may cause flair ups of symptoms in people with these disorders:
- Sjogren's Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Crohn's Disease
If you suffer from one of these conditions and notice an increase or flair up of symptoms, it may be due to a deficiency in Vitamin D.
Fortunately, a lack of Vitamin D is easily corrected once it is properly diagnosed and appropriately treated. Increasing sun exposure even a few minutes each day can dramatically improve deficiency symptoms, and individuals can also adjust their diets to include more foods rich in Vitamin D to compensate.
Beef, sardines, herring and salmon are healthy foods with Vitamin D, and milk, bread and breakfast cereals are often fortified with the nutrient. Vitamin D is also available in supplemental form and multivitamins.
Feel Better with D
There are several causes of Vitamin D deficiency that can lead to serious disorders, but with proper treatment including adequate sun exposure and a healthy diet, this nutrient deficiency can be reversed. A simple blood test at your doctor's office can confirm if you suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency. Speak to your doctor today if you think you suffer from low levels of Vitamin D and start feeling better soon.