Vitamin D is a workhorse in the human body.
It tackles its most well known purpose: Working with calcium to strengthen bones. But its function is much more than that. Vitamin D has been linked to disease prevention from head to toe and holds links to the management of conditions like:
· Multiple sclerosis
· Heart disease
· Mood regulation
· Fibromyalgia and more
Despite data supporting the need for healthy vitamin D levels, nearly ¾ of American teens and adults are deficient. Often called the “sunshine vitamin,” your body does produce a certain amount of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but many people make the mistake of believing that sun alone is enough—or that drinking a glass of milk will keep them covered. This is especially true for African Americans whose dark skin means they need many times more sun exposure to generate vitamin D compared to fair skinned people. Are you getting enough vitamin D? To know for sure, see your doctor for a simple blood test. And of course, remember to always talk to your healthcare provider before adding any supplements to your routine, but here are 5 symptoms of low D you should explore further:
· You battle depression or are feeling down.
Serotonin, a brain chemical that supports positive mood rises with sun exposure and drops without it. In one study, elderly patients with low levels of vitamin D were 11 times more likely to battle depression.
· You have bone or muscle pain/weakness.
Some types of vitamin D deficiency are misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome when the deficiency causes a defect in how your body absorbs calcium into the collagen matrix of bones—causing them to ache.
· You are sleepy during the day.
Of course not all cases of daytime sleepiness can be linked to vitamin D deficiency, but if you’re doing other things right—sleeping at night, eating well and exercising and still battle daytime fatigue, talk to your doctor.
· You wear out fast.
If you’re panting after a light workout or just can’t seem to endure the physical feats of the past it may not be in your head. Some studies have shown a decrease in aerobic capacity and endurance in athletes who have low D levels.
· Your blood pressure is too high.
Vitamin D helps regulate heart health in a variety of ways. When there’s not enough vitamin D on board you may see your blood pressure rising slowly over time. However, other factors than vitamin D may be at play, so talk to your doctor.
The power of vitamin D is often overlooked. If you’ve been wondering about your levels, talk to your doctor and consider looking beyond the blood work and at your body’s unique genetic tendencies to learn more about how you process vitamins like D and others. A simple nutrigenomic test can tell you what’s happening deep inside your cells and help take the guesswork out of what your body needs to maintain optimum nutrition and fitness levels.