Vitamin D deficiency is a problem which affects more people than you might think – since 2008, it has been officially recognized as a global pandemic. “The major cause of vitamin D deficiency is the lack of appreciation that sun exposure in moderation is the major source of vitamin D for most humans. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and foods that are fortified with vitamin D are often inadequate to satisfy either a child’s or an adult’s vitamin D requirement.”(1)
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to major complications – rickets in children, for example, and the exacerbation of health problems like osteoporosis.
Influenza epidemics are also linked to widespread vitamin D deficiency, according to a 2006 article which drew the connection between lowered vitamin D levels in winter, and the prevalence of flu epidemics during that season(2).
So how do you know if you need to be getting more vitamin D? Here are some warning signs to look out for.
1. Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is one of the most commonly recognized symptoms of severe vitamin D deficiency. “Common manifestations of vitamin D deficiency are symmetric low back pain, proximal muscle weakness, muscle aches, and throbbing bone pain elicited with pressure over the sternum and tibia.”(3)
2. Muscle Weakness
“In 30% of patients (vitamin D deficiency) can present as proximal muscle weakness before the biochemical signs of vitamin D deficiency appear leading up to unnecessary investigative work up,” says one study(4).
Vitamin D is often used in the treatment for psoriasis vulgaris, a painful skin condition. “… a review of the literature on oral vitamin D as a treatment for psoriasis reveals that this treatment is efficacious,” say the authors of one 2013 study(5).
Vitamin D is vital in the production of energy in the body – a deficiency can lead to chronic fatigue.
5. Excessive Sweating
One of the early signs of rickets, a disease connected strongly to vitamin D deficiency, is excessive sweating. Looking out for this symptom could make early diagnosis of rickets, especially in children, easier(6).
6. Chronic Respiratory Problems
Patients with chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive lung disease, and instertitial pneumonia are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency than the general population(7).
7. You Are Prone To Infections
Vitamin D deficiency can seriously impact your immune system’s ability to do its job.
“Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increase autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.”(8)
The Risks Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency doesn’t just increase your susceptibility to colds and flues – it can also put you at risk for developing cardiovascular disease, according to a 2009 study published in The American Journal Of Medical Sciences.
“Cross-sectional studies have reported that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of CVD, including hypertension, heart failure, and ischemic heart disease,” the study authors write(9).
If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor about them, as they may be reflective of a larger issue with serious ramifications for your health.