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Let's talk Vitamin D

We need to talk about Vitamin D.

Lately, I've seen a lot of clients with low Vitamin D (we confirm this via a blood test based on their presenting signs and symptoms). It's such an extremely important vitamin (yet actually acts like a hormone), and because it has some pretty powerful effects on effects on several systems throughout your body (1), I wanted to talk about what it is and why it's so important. 

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is both a vitamin and a hormone essential for healthy bodily function. Often nicknamed "the sunshine vitamin," vitamin D mostly enters our bodies via the sun, which is absorbed by our skin and converted into a usable form by cholesterol. You can also get some vitamin D from specific foods (mainly oily fish), and vitamin D supplements are popular for people who aren't able to get their fix from sunshine or food (which, it turns out, is a lot of us).

The recommended daily intake (RDI) is usually around 400–800 IU, but many experts say you should get even more than that.

Vitamin D deficiency is very common. It’s estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of the vitamin in their blood (2).

Here are 7 common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency:

  • Having dark skin.

  • Being elderly.

  • Being overweight or obese.

  • A diet low in eating fish. 

  • Living far from the equator where there is little sun year-round.

  • Staying indoors.

Here are 8 signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.

Most people don’t realise that they’re deficient, as symptoms are quite subtle. You may not recognise them easily, even if they’re having a significant negative effect on your quality of life.
1. Getting sick often

One of vitamin D’s most important roles is keeping your immune system strong so you’re able to fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness. It directly interacts with the cells that are responsible for fighting infection (4). If you often become sick, especially with colds or the flu, low vitamin D levels may be a contributing factor.

2. Fatigue and tiredness
Feeling tired can have many causes, and vitamin D deficiency may be one of them.  Unfortunately, it’s 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 (3, 4).

3. Bone and back pain
Vitamin D helps maintain bone health in a number of ways.  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.

4. Depression
A depressed mood may also be a sign of vitamin D deficiency.  In review studies, researchers have linked vitamin D deficiency to depression, particularly in older adults (5, 6).  In one analysis, 65% of the observational studies found a relationship between low blood levels and depression.

5. Impaired wound healing
Slow healing of wounds after surgery or injury may be a sign that your vitamin D levels are too low.  Results from a test-tube study suggest that the vitamin increases the production of compounds that are crucial for forming new skin as part of the wound-healing process (7).

6. Hair loss
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.  Hair loss in women has been linked to low vitamin D levels, though there is very little research on this to date (9).

7. Muscle Pain
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 (10, 111, 12,).  In one study, 71% of people with chronic pain were found to be deficient (13).

How do you get more Vitamin D

The safest and smartest way to optimise your vitamin D consumption is to monitor your blood levels.  The amount of vitamin D required to replenish deficiencies depends upon your lab tests, so you'll want to check with your health care practitioner for individual recommendations on how to keep your levels in check.
A quick way to up your vitamin D intake is to get more unfiltered, unprotected sunlight each day (never let your skin burn, but it's suggested we get at least 10-15minutes exposure per day). But if you live in a place where the sun isn't shining year-round or work a job that requires you to spend a lot of time inside, this can be a challenge. In that case, you may need to supplement. Your  best source is a D3/K2 supplement, as recommended by your doctor or health care practitioner.

Some foods also contain vitamin D, such as shiitake and button mushrooms (you can even leave mushrooms in the sun to elevate their vitamin D levels), mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, and eggs, but chances are you aren't consuming them in high enough quantities to meet all of your nutritional requirements.

Are you recognising yourself with any of the above? Fixing your deficiency is simple, easy and can have big benefits for your health.  Send me a message if you’re ready to discuss the next steps most appropriate for you and your health.

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2 comments
  • Thanks Georgie! It’s from our 5km bubble at Hampton Beach x

    Jacqueline on
  • that picture look’s amazing
    where did you take it at???

    georgie on

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