Vitamin D is a key component in processing and regulating calcium and phosphate in the body. The nutrient also works hard to maintain proper bone density. The most efficient way for the body to get vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. Doctors recommend approximately 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight three times per week for fair skin, though this average may not apply to everyone. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include brittle bones that are more prone to breakage and a host of other problems.
Recent research suggests vitamin D plays an even bigger role in regulating and maintaining the innate and adaptive immune responses than previously believed. Insufficient levels of vitamin D can weaken the body's immune system, leading to an increased risk of getting sick and more frequent illnesses. Vitamin D deficiencies can also lead to an increased risk of infection.
Recent studies suggest the correction of low levels of vitamin D can improve fatigue in those who are experiencing it on a recurring basis. While constant tiredness and fatigue can be attributed to many underlying ailments, an easy fix worth trying is increasing vitamin D by increasing direct exposure to sunlight.
Depression is marked by feeling low, helpless, sad, worthless, or lethargic. While everyone experiences these emotions at one point or another, the recurring and unwavering feeling of them is problematic and can lead to a lower quality of life. Because vitamin D helps regulate chemicals in the brain and elevate mood, a vitamin D deficiency could lead to depressed thoughts or feelings.
Although research regarding vitamin D's effect on blood pressure is ongoing, some studies suggest vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure or hypertension. This is particularly concerning because high blood pressure is called "the silent killer" due to its ability to progress without obvious side effects or symptoms.
One of the primary functions of vitamin D is building and maintaining strong bones and bone health. A lack of sufficient vitamin D can thus lead to brittle bones more prone to breakage. Bone pain is also a symptom of vitamin D deficiency because the nutrient aids the body in absorbing calcium, which is essential to healthy bones. Children who do not have proper vitamin D levels are at risk for rickets.
Research connects vitamin D to increased female fertility and healthier pregnancies. Studies show a lack of vitamin D during pregnancy can raise a pregnant mother's risk of preterm birth, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and bacterial vaginosis. Proper vitamin D levels also equate to better results for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) efforts. Women who are newly pregnant or trying to become pregnant should have their vitamin D levels tested.
While mild vitamin D deficiency has not been linked to muscle pain, more severe deficiencies could lead to muscle weakness and muscle pain. Vitamin D promotes healthy muscles by regulating calcium and phosphate levels. Studies show such a deficiency can lead to muscle cramping, pain, and weakness.
Anxiety related to vitamin D often stems from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, which most commonly occurs during the winter months when people are inclined to spend less time outdoors and as such receive less exposure to sunlight. SAD results in disturbance of sleep, depression, anxiety, and irritability. A conscious effort to get outside during these months could be effective in combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder.
A cut or wound that does not heal as effectively or efficiently as it should could be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. One of vitamin D's many functions is to help the body produce new skin. Adequate vitamin D could also control inflammation and prevent infections.
Sweating is a natural and healthy bodily response to overheating. Sweat is produced to help cool the body when it gets too hot. However, excessive sweating may be an indication of a vitamin D deficiency. People who notice sudden increases in the amount they are sweating, particularly from the head, should investigate their vitamin D levels.
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