Unlike most vitamins, vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin in your body. Every cell in your body has a receptor for it, including the immune cells. Vitamin D acts to regulate the calcium and phosphate levels in the body, so it’s important for helping keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Vitamin D deficiency is very common, but the symptoms can sometimes be hard to spot.
Who can be affected by Vitamin D deficiency?
It’s estimated that about 1 billion people around the world have low levels of the vitamin in their blood. And according to the National Institute for Healthcare and Excellence, around 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 children in the UK could be deficient.
In many cases, vitamin D deficiency won’t show any obvious symptoms.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms may include:
- Aching bones or back pain. Too little vitamin D in your body can lead to weakness of the bones and development of conditions like misshapen bones (osteomalacia) and soft bones (rickets)
- Muscles weakness. Poor muscle strength and weakness may be associated with vitamin D deficiency, especially in older people
- Low mood or depression. Lower levels of vitamin D have been linked to the serotonin level in the brain
- Weight gain. Although consuming more vitamin D won’t necessarily make you lose weight, those with low vitamin d levels may be prone to gaining weight
- Persistent coughs and colds. Vitamin D helps keep your immune system strong so you’re able to fight viruses that cause illness
- Fatigue. Studies have found that vitamin D deficiency is fairly common in those who report feeling tired a lot of the time
How to combat Vitamin D deficiency
Your body makes the majority of its vitamin D from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight. So although vitamin D can be difficult to get in the right amounts from diet alone, there are certain foods which are a good source of the vitamin.
Foods high in Vitamin D include:
- Fatty, oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and fresh tuna
- Egg yolks
- Red meat
- Fortified foods, i.e. foods that have had vitamins or minerals added that weren’t originally in the food. These may include certain spreads, for example margarine, and breakfast cereals
If you’re interested to know your Vitamin D levels, the test is available at Bluecrest – view more here.