Good day, sunshine! We are talking about vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin.” It gets this name because vitamin D is produced by the body when skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D also naturally occurs in foods like fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks, fortified dairies, and grain. Vitamin D is one of the biggest building blocks for strong bones, influences how our body uses the calcium in our diet, and even assists the parathyroid gland in maintaining strong communication with the kidneys, gut, and skeleton. Unfortunately, you may not be getting all the vitamin D you need. Take some time today to find out how to get the sunshine back in your life.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can present subtly, so keep your eyes peeled for symptoms:
- Muscle weakness
- Sore/painful muscles
- Bone pain
- Frequent aches/cramps
- Mood swings, even depression
Since a vitamin D deficiency can present so quietly, stay in touch with your body and communicate any concerns with your doctor. If you think you might be suffering from vitamin D deficiency, you may also be heading off issues like cardiovascular disease and cancer by talking to a doctor, as these severe symptoms are linked to low blood levels of vitamin D.
What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency?
While vitamin D deficiency can present almost imperceptibly, the causes are a little more obvious and can help you and your doctor pinpoint if you need to treat reduced levels.
- You have not been consuming the recommended levels of the vitamin over time. This can present commonly in patients who follow a strict vegan diet, because most of the natural sources for vitamin D are animal-based, such as fish and fish oils, fortified milk, beef liver, and egg yolks, to name a few examples.
- You are not exposing yourself to enough sunlight. Because your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, you could be at risk of the vitamin deficiency because you are limiting yourself from sunlight. Some reasons could be not getting enough sunlight if you are homebound, living in northern latitudes, or covering your body for religious purposes.
- Dark skin’s pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure.
- Your kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form.
- Your digestive tract cannot efficiently absorb vitamin D. This is often a problem for people with Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or cystic fibrosis.
- If you are obese, vitamin D can be extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into your circulation.
Here Comes the Sun
There may be several reasons one might have a vitamin D deficiency, but there are several treatment options available as well. Getting more vitamin D can look different for everyone. You may need to change up your diet or turn to supplements for a boost. This is great for people who are either homebound or see limited sunlight. If possible, however, try starting morning walks or spend more time outside when the sun is out. Always work with your doctor to design the best strategy for keeping your vitamin D levels balanced without risking a sunburn.
If you have a Vitamin D deficiency or think you are exhibiting any symptoms, call the team at the BASS Medical Group. Our doctors have experience treating all types of Vitamin D deficiency symptoms and can recommend the best treatment for you. Call (925) 350-4044 or visit bassmedicalgroup.com to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors today.