6 warning signs that you might be deficient in vitamin D
By Liz Connor. Published 2020-08-02
With the improved weather and increasing levels of sunshine we discuss the importance of Vitamin D and recognising whether you have a deficiency
Research by the National Cancer Centre in Tokyo suggests that vitamin D may offer protection against cancers.
The study found that middle-aged men and women with high levels of the vitamin in their blood are 20% less likely to get the disease.
According to data published by Public Health England, more than one in five people have low levels of vitamin D, which is essential for keeping teeth and bones healthy, regulating mood and improving resistance against winter bugs.
The best source of this vital vitamin is getting a dose of sunshine, as when the sun’s UVB rays hit our skin, a reaction takes place that enables the cells to manufacture it.
However, a lack of sunlight in the winter months means that many of us are blissfully unaware that we’re lacking in vitamin D.
Here, Frida Harju-Westman, nutritionist at the global health app Lifesum , explains the warning signs that you may have a deficiency.
You suffer from low moods
Vitamin D plays a vital role not only in brain health, but also your mood. The areas of your brain that are connected to your mood have been found to possess receptors for vitamin D, meaning that low levels within your body can affect how your brain cells behave.
While research is still being conducted to find out more about the exact relationship, it is believed that vitamin D boosts the level of chemicals in your brain known an monoamines. Monoamines are the neurotransmitters known as feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine.
When you lack these chemicals, you may feel low in mood, or even depressed. This also accounts for why many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter, as we naturally receive less vitamin D in darker months.
You get stress fractures
If you are low in vitamin D you may find that you suffer from recurring stress fractures.
Stress fractures happen when repetitive activity results in microscopic damage, such as a small crack, to a bone. Vitamin D is vital for bone growth and health, as it helps the body to absorb calcium. If you are deficient in this important mineral, then you may find that your are more prone to injury.
You have high blood pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition in which the blood pressure in your arteries is consistently high, causing your arteries to stretch beyond normal size. Research has shown that those with higher levels of vitamin D tend to have lower blood pressure and as a result, are less at risk from having a stroke or heart attack.
You don’t sleep well
Research has led to the discovery that deficiency in vitamin D may also be associated with the inability to sleep well at night. While the exact relationship between vitamin D and sleep is unknown, studies appear to suggest that those with healthier levels of the vitamin tend to sleep better.
This is believed to be because we have vitamin D receptors in areas of the brain that are responsible for controlling our sleep. When these receptors are lacking in vitamin D, they work less efficiently, which may cause bad sleep and result in daytime tiredness.
You have a weak immune system
If you find that you are often suffering from colds or other illness, then this could be a sign that you are deficient in vitamin D. Your immune system is reliant on this vital vitamin to activate its defences to fight infection.
Your immune system is helped to function by two kinds of white blood cells, one of which is called the ‘T cells’. In order for T cells to detect and kill bacteria or viruses, they have to be triggered into action. Research suggests that one of the triggers for activation is the presence of vitamin D in the blood. So if you often find that you are unwell and are struggling to fight off illnesses, then this might be a sign that you body needs more vitamin D.
You gain weight
Vitamin D is believed to optimise your body’s ability to absorb important weight loss nutrients such as calcium. Calcium is an essential nutrient, not only for bone health, but also for a healthy metabolism, as it helps your body to burn calories rather than store them as fat.