Surprising Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency (SQ-152)
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus - minerals known to play a crucial role in building strong and healthy bones. However, vitamin D influences many other important functions in the body and its role in your overall health is more profound than just boosting bone health. Vitamin D keeps your immune system healthy, protects your heart health and also boosts your mood and mental health.
What happens when you do not get enough Vitamin D?
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies throughout the world and it is a difficult shortcoming to identify, as having low levels may not produce any significant symptoms for months or maybe years. Severe and chronic deficiency can cause a number of symptoms such as unexplained fatigue, low energy, muscle weakness, and pain in the bones and muscles. While these signs are common, let us look at some very uncommon signs of vitamin D deficiency. Understanding and knowing these subtle signs may help you recognize and address the deficiency early on.
Unusual Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
1. Excessive sweating
If your head and neck sweat a lot, get your vitamin D levels tested. Excessive sweating, especially in the head, is possibly one of the first and earliest signs of severe vitamin D deficiency. Normally, sweating is a good thing as it is one of the important ways your body removes toxins, but if you find yourself sweating excessively or if you often have a sweaty head, consider it as a possible sign of low vitamin D. For this reason, paediatricians routinely ask new mothers to check if their new-born has a sweaty head.
2. Falling sick too often
While this symptom may come across as a surprising indication of vitamin D deficiency, the explanation for this is not surprising at all. Scientists have long known that vitamin D plays a very important role in boosting the natural immunity and regulating adaptive immunity.
Let’s see how it works.
Vitamin D helps the body to make proteins that have anti-microbial properties. These natural antibiotics play a crucial role in fighting a wide range of infections. It is not a co-incidence that some of your immune cells, such as T cells and B cells, have receptors for vitamin D. These cells also have the enzymes that convert the circulating vitamin D into active vitamin D, a form that your cells can readily utilise. Studies show that maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D may reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections, flu and asthma. The sunshine vitamin not only boosts natural immunity but also keeps inflammation in check and boosts lung health.
Studies have also linked vitamin D deficiency with autoimmune disorders, especially autoimmune thyroid disorders, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It is because vitamin D not only boosts natural immunity but also plays an important role in regulating adaptive immunity, the kind that lowers the risk of autoimmune disorders.
3. Hair loss
One of the side effects you can experience when your body does not have healthy levels of Vitamin D is hair loss. Chronic deficiency is known to play some role in the development and also in the severity of alopecia areata (an autoimmune condition that causes bald patches) in both men and women. While extreme stress and genetics are two main risk factors for alopecia, suboptimal vitamin D levels can also cause people to lose hair or experience problems related to hair growth. If you have been experiencing significant hair loss, a severe vitamin D deficiency could be the culprit. Let’s see how vitamin D is connected to hair loss problems.
Vitamin D exerts most of its functions by binding to vitamin D receptors that are found in almost every cell of your body, including in the cells of the intestines, immune cells, brain, muscles, thyroid gland and your hair follicles too. Vitamin D is involved in the production of new hair follicles. This is how vitamin D plays an important role in the hair growth cycle and why a chronic deficiency may result in hair loss and thinning of hair. The good news is that the thinning of hair caused by vitamin D deficiency is reversible.
4. Feeling sad and depressed
In addition to non-specific bone and muscle pains, one can also experience neurological signs of vitamin D deficiency such as depression, anxiety and many other disorders related to mental health. Studies have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and neurological problems such as dementia, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.
Low levels of vitamin D can put you at a risk of depression and anxiety. Whether or not vitamin D supplementation can help you improve symptoms of depression and feel better is a controversial subject. But the science is clear on one thing: people who show signs of depression and other mental health disorders usually have low vitamin D levels.
It is not yet clear if vitamin D deficiency can actually cause someone to develop depression. For example, it may be possible that people suffering from depression don’t spend too much time outdoors in the sunlight, making their vitamin D deficiency worse. Certain anti-depressant medications may also interfere with the healthy production of vitamin D in the body.
Poor vitamin D levels can also decrease estrogen levels, causing mood swings, hot flashes, poor bone health and even depression in women. If you are feeling low but can’t account for your depression you may want to get your vitamin D levels tested. Feeling blue without any reason and for prolonged duration can be one of the warning signs of vitamin D deficiency. Loss of a loved one, financial trouble, a major life event or an underlying health condition are some top causes of depression. But depression is a complex problem and it is always best to see a certified practitioner to get a proper diagnosis.
Studies also show that people with poor vitamin D status may have trouble falling or staying asleep. The levels of vitamin D also interfere with the sleep duration and sleep efficiency. Poor levels may also increase your risk of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, a sleep disorder where a person stops breathing for a few seconds at a time while sleeping. Researchers believe that vitamin D is involved in the production of neurotransmitters and hormones such as serotonin, which regulate happiness, mood and the sleep wake cycle and play a role in managing stress. There is some data that suggests vitamin D supplements can help you sleep better and improve your sleep quality as well as its duration.
5. Brain fog
Have you been feeling confused, forgetful and disoriented lately? While lack of sleep, stress and erratic working hours can make you feel hazy and may slow you down, vitamin D deficiency could be one of the reasons why you may be experiencing brain fog. While some solid research is needed to prove cause and effect, preliminary evidence suggests that poor vitamin D levels may lead to attentional, and behavioural problems, and may have some role in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 
Vitamin D plays a strong role in maintaining healthy brain function. Studies show that anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin D may protect brain health. Vitamin D deficiency is common among the elderly for several reasons. For example, older adults spend less time outdoors in natural sunlight. The ability of skin to synthesize a sufficient amount of vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure also takes a hit as you age. In addition, older adults are more likely to suffer from poor liver and kidney health, another risk factor for developing vitamin D deficiency. Long-term shortage of the sunshine vitamin can affect overall well-being and may increase the risk of falls and factures in the elderly.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency in adults include fatigue, pain in bone and muscles, muscle weakness, mood changes, depression, decline in cognitive functions and weight gain.
6. Skin problems
Can a vitamin D deficiency be a reason for your skin problems that are driving you up a wall? Studies have reported that people with skin conditions such as psoriasis have low levels of vitamin D. Dry, itchy and scaly skin, acne breakouts and excessive sweating could be signs that you have a shortage of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D supplements may help if you have dry and itchy skin or you have been struggling with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis . According to the experts, vitamin D deficiency may not actually cause people to develop psoriasis but it is likely to aggravate the symptoms.
7. Poor wound healing
When wounds don't appear to be healing as fast as they should, you may be deficient in certain vitamins, specifically vitamin C and vitamin D. It is well understood that people who have considerably low levels of vitamin D may experience impaired or delayed wound healing. Emerging and ongoing studies hint that there is a relation between low vitamin D levels and bones that are hard to heal. There is also evidence that vitamin D supplements may help in wound healing. 
Diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) is a common complication in type 2 diabetes. DFU and delayed wound healing can severely impact quality of life, lead to higher hospitalization rates, and increase the risk of amputation and death in patients with diabetes. Studies also show that vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of many complications associated with diabetes, including DFU.
Studies show that supplementation may be helpful in faster wound healing in people with DFU. It can be related to the role of vitamin D in boosting immunity and keeping bacterial infection at bay. In addition, vitamin D regulates blood sugar levels and improves glycemic control, which is an extremely important benefit in people with diabetes. High blood sugar levels cause poor blood circulation that adversely affects wound healing. In addition, excessive sugar levels in diabetic people can lead to neuropathy, which can cause loss of sensation and interfere with their ability to feel pain. This can cause a delay in addressing the problem.
8. Thyroid disorders
Some studies show that people with thyroid disorders have low levels of vitamin D. Can low levels of vitamin D cause problems with your thyroid health? Well, studies do suggest a link between vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune thyroid disorders, such as Hashimoto's disease and Grave's disease.  Vitamin D helps in healthy thyroid functions, which is not surprising, as your thyroid gland, just like many other tissues, contains receptors for Vitamin D. Research suggests that improving vitamin D levels may help reduce the symptoms of poor thyroid function such as weight gain, brain fog, mood issues and fatigue. 
9. Erectile dysfunction
Stress, depression, anxiety or certain underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease are known causes of erectile dysfunction (ED). Is there a connection between vitamin D deficiency and erectile dysfunction? Several studies suggest that vitamin D status is important for healthy sexual functioning in men and that there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and the severity of ED.  
Erectile dysfunction results from poor blood circulation that may stem from atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of arteries due to the accumulation of plaque) and poorly functioning endothelium (inner lining of your blood vessels). People with diabetes seem to suffer from both these conditions, and studies show that men with diabetes are more likely to have erectile dysfunction then people without diabetes. Vitamin D is known to reduce inflammation in the body, and improve blood circulation and endothelial function. These properties can be very helpful in improving symptoms of ED.
Most common signs of vitamin D deficiency
We just explored some odd warning signs of vitamin D deficiency and now let's also look at some common signs of vitamin D deficiency such as bone pain, bone loss and poor bone density. It also causes muscle weakness and muscle pain. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus from food and supplements. These minerals are crucial for your bone and muscle health.
If you do not have enough Vitamin D, the mineral density in your bones takes a hit and this can give rise to weak, soft and brittle bones. Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to bone pain and osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones that are prone to fractures). Muscle weakness and muscle spasms may also increase the risk of falling down and fractures, especially in the elderly.
Vitamin D deficiency and low levels can also aggravate your neck and back pain.  There is evidence that people with lower back pain are deficient in vitamin D and treating vitamin D deficiency is not only good for your bone health, it may also improve back pain. 
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