It’s often called the sunshine vitamin because unlike other nutrients, vitamin D is not provided by food but made when our skin is exposed to the sun. In northern Europe it’s estimated that a staggering one in five adults and one in six children do not have adequate levels of vitamin D. “Children no longer play outside like they used to, opting for iPads and games indoors and so many of us work inside all day, so we’re seeing a rising problem of vitamin D deficiency.”
On a more everyday level, many of these symptoms could be signs of vitamin D deficiency:
- You get frequent infections. Vitamin D is vital to the health of the immune system. Without sufficient amounts, our immune cells are unable to react appropriately leaving us more susceptible to infection. If you feel like you’re always catching any infection going and/or it takes you longer than most to shake it, get tested.
- You’re depressed - especially in winter. Vitamin D is understood to play a key role in maintaining healthy levels of serotonin in the brain.
- You’re literally always tired. Vitamin D is essential for converting food into energy. If you’re always tired, a lack of this vitamin could mean you’re not assimilating nutrients from your food and your body’s cellular ability to make energy from what you eat is compromised thanks to a lack of vitamin D. The good news is, this can be quickly remedied by supplementation.
- You have joint pains or weak bones. Vitamin D is essential to help regulate calcium and phosphate levels in the body, giving it a key role in the functioning of joints, muscles and teeth and adequate levels help ward off osteomalacia (soft bones) and osteoporosis (loss of bone density) in later life.
- Your muscles hurt. Vitamin D supports muscle function because receptors for it are located all over the body, including in the muscles. Having lots of general muscle aches is often the first tell-tale sign of a deficiency. Vitamin D enters muscle cells when it is metabolized, enhancing muscle contractions, which is vital for preventing falls and for building muscle strength and bones through exercise. In fact, researchers have found links between chronic pain that doesn’t respond to treatment and vitamin D deficiency and supplementation has been shown to help.