Nowadays, vitamin D deficiency is a common nutritional deficiency around the globe. Vitamin D is vital for strong bones because it aids the body's absorption of calcium from food.
Low vitamin D has long been linked to "Rickets", a serious condition in children, where bone tissue fails to mineralize effectively. It ultimately results in skeletal abnormalities and soft bones. However, worldwide research is rapidly proving the relevance of vitamin D in preventing several health conditions.
Let’s understand the significance of vitamin D and the various side effects of a vitamin D insufficiency.
Why is vitamin D so vital?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, crucial for the body's functioning, including bone strength and immunity. It can also prevent cancer and protect against a variety of chronic illnesses, such as:
- Bone loss
- Type 2 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Heart disease
- Glucose intolerance
Nearly 1 billion people globally have low vitamin D blood levels. Here’s how they are impacted.
- Bone strength
Vitamin D insufficiency can trigger bone density loss, leading to osteoporosis and broken bones.
Vitamin D deficiency in the bloodstream can also lead to other disorders. It can cause "Rickets" in infants and children. Rickets is a serious condition that causes softening and bending of the bones. Severe vitamin D insufficiency in adults can cause "Osteomalacia." Osteomalacia is typically characterized by brittle bones, discomfort in the bones and muscle weakness.
- Parathyroid glands
The parathyroid glands balance the calcium in the bloodstream by communicating with the gut, kidneys, and skeleton. If calcium intake is insufficient, or one has low vitamin D, the parathyroid glands will need to ‘borrow’ calcium from your skeleton to maintain the blood calcium within the normal range.
- Frequent sickness or infections
Vitamin D is instrumental in supporting immune health, helping ward off disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Vitamin D interacts directly with the cells that oversee fighting infections.
Low vitamin D levels can be a contributing cause if you get sick frequently, especially with colds or the flu. A connection between Vitamin D deficiency and respiratory tract illnesses like colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia has been discovered in several studies.
Taking up to 4,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D per day can lessen the incidence of respiratory tract infections. Besides, vitamin D insufficiency has recently been associated with an increased chance of COVID-19, as well as a higher probability of having severe symptoms.
- Fatigue and tiredness
Feeling fatigued can be caused by a variety of factors, one of which is vitamin D insufficiency. Vitamin D insufficiency is frequently disregarded as a potential cause of exhaustion, in contrast to more apparent reasons such as stress, melancholy and insomnia.
One study comprising of 480 older adults connected Vitamin D insufficiency to fatigue symptoms. In addition, low vitamin D levels were linked to poor sleep quality, shorter sleep duration and later bedtimes in a study of 39 children.
Low vitamin D levels and self-reported weariness were also linked in one observational research of female nurses. Furthermore, 89% of those surveyed lacked vitamin D. Interestingly, some studies have found that supplementing vitamin D can help those with a deficiency feel less tired.
Although some study results are contradictory, vitamin D insufficiency has been related to depression, particularly in the elderly.
Vitamin D supplements have had mixed results; however, some studies have suggested that they can help with depressive symptoms.
- Hair loss
Hair health can be influenced by a variety of diets and nutrients.
While stress is a major cause of hair loss, significant hair loss can also be caused by disease or dietary deficiencies. Low vitamin D levels have been related to hair loss in women, but research on the subject is limited.
Besides, low vitamin D levels have been linked to Alopecia areata, an autoimmune illness that causes severe hair loss.
- Muscle pain
Muscle pain has a variety of causes that are difficult to pinpoint. Vitamin D insufficiency, on the other hand, appears to be a possible cause.
The vitamin D receptor is found in various pain-sensing nerve cells known as nociceptors. This vitamin may also play a function in your body's pain signaling pathways, which could contribute to chronic pain.
According to a few studies, high-dose vitamin D supplements can help persons with vitamin D deficiency lessen various kinds of pain.
A single dose of vitamin D lowered pain scores by an average of 57% in 120 children with vitamin D insufficiency who had growing pains, reveals one study.
Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly prevalent. However, since the symptoms are typically vague and generic, it can be difficult to tell if you have a deficit or another illness. It’s best to get your blood tested and consult a physician if you face recurring symptoms.