Vitamin D is a critical nutrient for maintaining healthy bones, absorbing calcium, and even regulating moods. Many people get adequate vitamin D through a mix of dietary choices and sunshine exposure. However, a surprisingly high amount of people struggle to get enough vitamin D. How can someone spot a deficiency? And when is a supplement necessary?
1. You can’t stop getting sick
One of the vitamin’s main qualities is boosting the immune system. Several studies have found that chronic bronchitis, colds, or pneumonia can be linked to a vitamin D deficiency. And other research has shown that taking a vitamin D supplement could reduce the risk of catching a respiratory infection. A lack may also show up as chronic fatigue and tiredness, which can go hand-in-hand with not feeling well.
2. Your mood has taken a turn for the worse
Some experts have found a link between low vitamin D levels and depression, especially in older adults. This is not surprising, as seasonal depression is often associated with vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sun exposure. In one compilation of studies, researchers found that there was a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression in up to 65% of cases.
3. Chronic pain
Muscle and bone pain are some of the most common signs of vitamin D deficiency. In one study, almost 3 in 4 people with chronic pain also had low levels of vitamin D. A deficiency in this nutrient can also contribute to muscle pain in children. In one trial, children who had prolonged pain experienced up to a 57% decrease in pain after taking a vitamin D supplement.
Should I take a supplement?
Many people are unaware of a vitamin D deficiency. While standard guidelines recommend aiming for 400-600IU of vitamin D daily, some people may need more than that. Fortunately, a simple supplement can do the trick. For some people, taking a high dose of vitamin D weekly may be beneficial.
Proceed with caution
There are risks associated with taking too much vitamin D. Taking a supplement unnecessarily can result in a buildup of calcium in the blood. This can cause vomiting, nausea, frequent urination, and muscle weakness. For this reason, never start taking a supplement without first having bloodwork checked and receiving a recommendation from a healthcare provider. For more information, speak with a family medicine healthcare provider.