Vitamin D Deficiency: Fatigue and Other Key Symptoms
Do you always feel tired and sluggish? Do your muscles ache for no particular reason? And have you noticed that you always have a sweaty head? Then you should see a doctor immediately, because you may be deficient in vitamin D.
Also called hypovitaminosis D, this condition is estimated to affect around 32 percent of the U.S. population. According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted in 2006, one in two children aged 1-5 years old are deficient in vitamin D. Moreover, 7 out of 10 children aged 6 to 11 years old have insufficient levels of the said vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency fatigue is also a worldwide health concern. Various studies suggest that hypovitaminosis D is an epidemic, with more than a billion people around the world not having sufficient levels of the said vitamin according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D isn’t your typical vitamin which the main source is food, or supplements. Unlike other vitamins like vitamin A and C, the chief source of the vitamin is direct exposure to sunlight. Humans get as much as 90 percent of their vitamin D by being exposed to the sun. Only 10 percent of it is derived from food and supplements.
In fact, that’s the main reason why vitamin D deficiency is a major health problem in countries like the United Kingdom, where there is not enough ultraviolet radiation to initiate vitamin D synthesis even in sunny days. Dull weather in the UK has prompted health officials in the country to encourage their citizens to take vitamin D supplements instead.
There are many risks associated with insufficient levels of vitamin D in the body, such as severe asthma in children, cognitive impairment in senior citizens, and cancer.
There’s also an increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, because the vitamin is essential for reducing cardiovascular ailments like heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.
So how would you know that you are deficient in vitamin D?
The best way to determine if you don’t have enough vitamin D in your body is to go through a vitamin D blood test. If the test shows that you have 12 nanograms/ milliliter, then you are deficient in the said vitamin. The normal level is 20 ng/mL for healthy people.
But there are certain signs and symptoms that can suggest vitamin D deficiency, such as:
One of the most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency is chronic fatigue. If you’re always tired and sluggish for no apparent reason, then it could be because you don’t have enough of the said vitamin.
One study that was published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences suggested that hypovitaminosis D was common among people who complained of chronic fatigue. It also added that increasing the levels of the said vitamin in the body can significantly reduce symptoms of fatigue.
It is not uncommon for people who are lacking in vitamin D to complain of vague aches and pains. They are also slowed down by a general sense of not being well.
A related symptom is muscle weakness. Sufficient levels of vitamin D can assist you in maintaining power in your muscles, regardless of your age. Harvard researchers, in fact, have associated vitamin D supplementation with improved muscle control. One of their studies showed that adults aged 60 years old and more and who have enough vitamin D in their bodies were up to 20 percent more likely to suffer less falls.
Muscle weakness may cause you to have problems climbing stairs, or getting up from a low chair. It can also cause you to walk with a wadding pattern.
Did you know that African Americans are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency? People who have dark skin would need 10 times more sun exposure than those who are fair skinned.
That’s because the skin pigment called melanin serves as a natural sunscreen. It protects our skin from the harmful rays of the sun. But having a lot of melanin means that you will have to spend more time in the sun so that your body would be able to produce vitamin D.
This is the same reason why African Americans are encouraged to spend more time outdoors so that they can get enough sunlight. They are also advised to take vitamin D supplements to be able to get the right amount of the said vitamin.
Not having enough amounts of vitamin D in the body can also make you feel blue all the time. How does this happen?
This may have to do with the brain hormone called serotonin, the levels of which increase and decrease depending on sun exposure. Simply put, the more sunlight exposure that you get, the higher levels of serotonin that you have in the body.
There have been a lot of studies indicating that low levels of vitamin D can cause depression. In 2006, the mental health of 80 elderly patients were evaluated by scientists and they discovered that those who were deficient in the said vitamin were up to 11 times more prone to depression compared to those who have enough vitamin D.
Your weight can also be an indication that you are not getting enough vitamin D. The said vitamin is fat-soluble. Thus the more body fat that you have the more that the vitamin gets diluted. Hence if you are overweight or obese, the more time that you have to spend outdoors so that you will have sufficient levels of this important vitamin.
More often than not, people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more have low blood levels of vitamin D.
People who have gut problems such as Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and the like are at greater risk for hypovitaminosis D. These gastrointestinal problems affect fat absorption, which can then result to lower absorption of vitamin D which is fat soluble.
In 2011, a study that was published in the Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology showed that there is a link between low levels of vitamin D and gastrointestinal diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, and even colorectal cancer.
Having sufficient levels of vitamin D can prevent these gastrointestinal issues. Vitamin D receptors that are present on the cells of the digestive tract can help the digestive and immune systems to function properly.
50 Years and Older
If you’re 50 years and older, there’s a high chance your body is not getting as much vitamin D as it needs to. For one, your skin is not making as much vitamin D as it used to. Second, the kidneys are no longer as active when it comes to converting the vitamin D into the form that can be used by the body.
This is the same reason why the National Institutes of Health recommends that older adults spend more time outdoors.
Do you always sweat even if you’re not working out? Do other people notice that you always have a sweaty forehead? Then it is likely that you aren’t getting enough vitamin D.
The vitamin, after all, regulates concentration of minerals which in turns aids in fine-tuning the fluid balance in the body. This could be the reason why you are sweating profusely.
In children, excessive sweating is associated with rickets, a type of vitamin D deficiency that affects bone development.
Vitamin D supports optimal function of the bones and muscles. Lack of it can cause general muscle pain and weakness, as well as chronic joint pain. When there are limited amounts of vitamin D in the body, calcium won’t reach the skeletal system which can cause bone pain later on.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue symptom, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis. All of these health problems have a shared symptom, which is joint pain.
High Blood Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure may also suggest that you have low vitamin D in your body. The vitamin, after all, keeps in check the enzymatic process which constricts the arteries and in turn causes high blood pressure.
Moreover, vitamin D improves blood circulation in the body , which is necessary for the proper function of the heart. Thus having enough vitamin D in the body can reduce risks of heart failure, stroke, heart attack, and similar health issues.
A study made by the American Heart Association in 2013 suggested that vitamin D supplementation can lower systolic pressure.
Indeed, vitamin D insufficiency can result to a lot of health problems. So you should get a lot of sunlight as much as possible.
If you’re being affected by chronic fatigue due to vitamin D deficiency, one way to solve this problem is to take Fatigue Fighter. This all-natural supplement can boost your energy, and give you the stamina you need to last through a hectic day. It can also give your body vitamins for adrenal fatigue.