Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Cases of vitamin D deficiency are prevalent in Pakistan because of malnourishment, the lack of fortified dairy and grain products and the darker skin tones (the melanin which makes the skin darker also reduces its ability to retain vitamin D from the sun). The following are a list of signs and symptoms to help you find out whether you are part of this statistic.
Noticeable and unexpected muscle weakness could be a signal that your body is deficient in this vitamin, as for skeletal muscles to function properly, their vitamin D receptors must be sustained by vitamin D.
More frequent fractures can also mean your body requires more vitamin D, as an individual stops building bone mass around age 30, and a lack of vitamin D can speed up or worsen osteoporosis symptoms. Vitamin D is what helps deposit calcium on the bones, and so without it, the calcium flows out of the system and the bones become more brittle and therefore more susceptible to fractures and breaks.
Vitamin D is also linked to some brain areas that affect the mood, so depression diagnosis can also be connected to a shortage.
Being overweight or obese may also lead to lower vitamin D levels, as the compound is fat soluble and the more fat in the body the more likely the vitamin will dissolve and not reach the vitamin D receptors.
Excessive sweating is known to be a classic sign of a shortage of vitamin D in the body, but since it is not easy to discern – how does one know if the increase in sweating is from higher temperatures outside or an internal problem? – it is not a very reliable indication of low levels of vitamin D. However, if this condition is experienced in addition to many of the others already mentioned or those to follow, do not hesitate to see your doctor and take a vitamin D test.
Darker skin also greatly reduces the amount of vitamin D synthesized by the body, as the pigment, melanin, that darkens it is a natural sun screen that protects us from harmful, cancer-causing UV rays from the sun. However, it is also these UV rays that help our skin create vitamin D – the only other source is through foods. Thus, darker skinned individuals have to spend a greater amount of time in the sun than paler people to make the same amount of the vitamin. This lower level of vitamin D synthesis should be compensated by increased ingestion of foods containing this nutrient, but oftentimes this is not the case, especially in Pakistan, and deficiencies are the result.
If you see any of these signs or symptoms in yourself, and suspect that you may have a shortage of vitamin D, then visit your doctor and request a vitamin D test. If your suspicions are proven correct, do not despair, for within six months of taking prescribed supplements, you can be restored to a healthy condition. However, never take these supplements without testing the vitamin D levels in your body – having too much of this compound in your body is not good for you either, and can prove to have harmful effects!