Vitamin D Deficiency Increases Risk Of Illness, Infections – Study
By Chioma Umeha
Impaired Wound Healing, Hair Loss, Others Shows It’s Absence
Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin that has powerful effects on several systems throughout the body.
Unlike most vitamins, vitamin D actually functions like a hormone and every single cell in your body has a receptor for it.
The body makes it from cholesterol when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
It is also found in certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, although it is very difficult to get enough from diet alone.
The recommended daily intake is usually around 400-800 IU, but many experts say you should get even more than that.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common. It is estimated that about one billion people worldwide have low levels of the vitamin in their blood.
The common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency are:
Having dark skin.
Being overweight or obese.
Not eating much fish or milk.
Living far from the equator where there is little sun year-round.
Always using sunscreen when going out.
People who live near the equator and get frequent sun exposure are less likely to be deficient, because their skin produces enough vitamin D to satisfy the body’s needs.
Most people do not realise that they are deficient, because the symptoms are generally subtle. You may not notice them easily, even if they are having a significant negative effect on your quality of life. Below are signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
Getting sick or infected often
One of vitamin D’s most important roles is keeping your immune system strong so you are able to fight off the viruses and bacteria that cause illness.
It directly interacts with the cells that are responsible for fighting infection.
If you become sick often, especially with colds or the flu, low vitamin D levels may be a contributing factor.
Several large observational studies have shown a link between a deficiency and respiratory tract infections like colds, bronchitis and pneumonia.
A number of studies have found that taking vitamin D supplements at dosages of up to 4,000 IU daily may reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections.
In one study of people with the chronic lung disorder (COPD), only those who were severely deficient in vitamin D experienced a significant benefit after taking a high-dose supplement for one year.
Note: Vitamin D plays important roles in immune function. One of the most common symptoms of deficiency is an increased risk of illness or infections.
Fatigue and tiredness
Feeling tired can have many causes and vitamin D deficiency may be one of them.
Unfortunately, it is often overlooked as a potential cause.
Case studies have shown that very low blood levels can cause fatigue that has a severe negative effect on quality of life.
Note: Excessive fatigue and tiredness may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Taking supplements may help improve energy levels.
Bone and back pain
Vitamin D is involved in maintaining bone health through a number of mechanisms.
For one, it improves your body’s absorption of calcium.
Bone pain and lower back pain may be signs of inadequate vitamin D levels in the blood.
Large observational studies have found a relationship between a deficiency and chronic lower back pain.
Note: Low blood levels of the vitamin may be a cause or contributing factor to bone pain and lower back pain.
A depressed mood may also be a sign of deficiency. In review studies, researchers have linked vitamin D deficiency to depression, particularly in older adults.
Some controlled studies have shown that giving vitamin D to people who are deficient helps improve depression, including seasonal depression that occurs during the cold season.
Note: Depression is associated with low vitamin D levels and some studies have found that supplementing improves mood.
Impaired wound healing
Slow healing of wounds after surgery or injury may be a sign that vitamin D levels are too low.
Note: Inadequate vitamin D levels may lead to poor wound healing following surgery, injury or infection.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption and bone metabolism.
Many older women who are diagnosed with bone loss believe they need to take more calcium. However, they may be deficient in vitamin D as well.
Low bone mineral density is an indication that calcium and other minerals have been lost from bone. This places older people, especially women, at an increased risk of fractures.
Note: A diagnosis of low bone mineral density may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Getting enough of this vitamin is important for preserving bone mass as you get older.
Hair loss is often attributed to stress, which is certainly a common cause.
However, when hair loss is severe, it may be the result of a disease or nutrient deficiency.
Note: Hair loss may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency in female-pattern hair loss or the autoimmune condition, alopecia areata.
The causes of muscle pain are often difficult to pinpoint.
There is some evidence that vitamin D deficiency may be a potential cause of muscle pain in children and adults.
In one study, 71 per cent of people with chronic pain were found to be deficient.
Note: There is a link between chronic pain and low blood levels of the vitamin, which may be due to the interaction between the vitamin and pain-sensing nerve cells.
Correcting Vitamin D deficiency
If you think you may have a deficiency, then it is important that you speak to your doctor and get your blood levels measured.
Fortunately, a vitamin D deficiency is usually easy to fix. You can increase your sun exposure, eat more vitamin D rich foods or simply take a supplement.
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