Vitamin D is a nutrient that your body produces when your skin absorbs sunlight, earning the nickname “sunshine vitamin.” Despite the name however, vitamin D is technically a pro-hormone, and not a vitamin. Your body cannot create vitamins by itself, therefore you need to rely on food and supplement for your vitamin intake. However, your body can synthesize vitamin D when your skin absorbs sunlight.
Inadequate levels of vitamin D can cause many health problems such as infections and muscle pains, but dangerously deficient people may develop cardiovascular diseases and even cancer, in particular the colorectal, breast, pancreatic and prostate varieties.
Here are some of the more common signs of vitamin D deficiency:
- Frequent infections – Vitamin D is vital to the immune system. Insufficient amounts will impair the ability of the immune cells to react to infections. “Vitamin D is essential to the function of two essential parts of the immune system, adaptive and innate immunity,” said nutritionist Kim Pearson. Adaptive immunity remembers the viruses that have once entered your body (like chicken pox) and prevents them from coming back, while your innate immunity protects you from everyday infections like colds.
- Feeling depressed – Vitamin D deficiency can affect mood, especially during winter. A 2014 study found a direct link between vitamin D and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
which triggers low mood during winter months because of lack of sunshine.
- Always feeling tired – Vitamin D is essential to for converting food into energy. Your body’s ability to assimilate nutrients from your food is compromised by the lack of vitamin D, but this can be remedied by supplementation.
- Weak bones and joint pains – A 2014 study predicted that people older than 50 are more likely to develop hip and knee joint pains with low levels of vitamin D. “When you’re running low on vitamin D, your bones can weaken increasing your risk of stress fractures,” said Pearson.
- Muscle pain – Vitamin D supports muscle function and muscle strength when metabolized by the body. “Having lots of general muscle aches is often the first tell tale sign of a deficiency,” Pearson cautioned….