7 Indicators You May Be Vitamin D-Poor

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Here you can find out exactly whether you need more vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency

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About a third of the population is deficient in the sun vitamin. According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, it’s important to watch out for low vitamin D symptoms as deficiencies in this micronutrient have been linked to heart disease, cancer, flu, and osteoporosis.

Keep an eye out for these low vitamin D symptoms and see your doctor and ask if you should test your vitamin D levels if you are not sure. Your bones will thank you (just like after adding these skeletal strengthening exercises to your routine).

1. You suffer from stress fractures

This is the only real symptom of low vitamin D, says Dr. Adrian Gombart, Associate Professor at the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University in Corvallis, who studies vitamin D extensively. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium (the building blocks of bones) from food.

“If you have less than 20 micrograms of vitamin D per milliliter in your blood, you don’t have enough D to move calcium into your bones.” The result? Weaker bones that can increase the risk of injury, including stress fractures.

2. You keep getting sick

A meta-analysis of 39 studies found that low vitamin D levels were linked to an increased risk of upper and lower respiratory infections. According to a meta-analysis in the journal Medicine, people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to develop pneumonia than people with higher levels of vitamin D. If this cough keeps coming back and you can’t figure out why – wash your hands thoroughly, get enough sleep, eat balanced, etc. – this may be due to a vitamin D deficiency. Talk to your doctor.

3. You are moody

The vitamin regulates the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin – you know, the neurotransmitter that regulates mood. If you can’t get rid of your sad feelings, you know these lows can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. (In addition to knowing the symptoms of low vitamin D, you may also want to familiarize yourself with the differences between stress, burnout, and depression.)

4. You live in a city

Low-light areas mean less exposure to sunlight, which produces vitamin D (we see you, northerners). When nutritionist Peter Horvath of the University of the Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions studied in Buffalo, New York, he found that nearly 50 percent of people don’t have enough vitamin D and 25 percent may be vitamin D deficient ( less than 30 micrograms per milliliter in the blood).

5. Exercise seems more difficult

Vitamin D is needed for muscle fibers to develop and grow. This explains why a meta-analysis published in the Health & Fitness Journal suggests that vitamin D deficiency can affect muscle function and fitness levels.

6. You’re washed out

By now you know the role vitamin D plays in making the all-important serotonin, right? Well, the neurotransmitter doesn’t just affect your mood. It also affects other cognitive functions such as decision making and impulse control, according to a study published in the FASEB Journal. If your determination is pervasive, it could be a symptom of low vitamin D levels.

7. You don’t get enough sun

First, sunscreen isn’t a bad thing. I repeat: sunscreen is not (!!) a bad thing. Buy it. Apply it. Apply it again. “But your body can’t make vitamin D from sun exposure when you’re wearing sunscreen,” says Gombart. You don’t have to choose between skin health and bone health: Gombart suggests speaking to your doctor about adding a supplement to your routine.

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