The warning signs for vitamin D deficiency aren’t always obvious. If you’re not feeling yourself especially in the winter months, then you might be vitamin D deficient. Here’s some tell-tale signs to look out for.

Vitamin D is vital for the human body to function

It has a whole host of benefits including; keeping our bones healthy, boosting your immune system, and ensures maintenance of normal muscle function, lowering blood pressure, combatting neurological disorders including depression seasonal affective disorder, bettering sports performance, lowering the risk of diabetes and possibly dementia.

Why you might be vitamin D deficient

Though you can get some vitamin D through food, most of it will come from the sun. During the winter, our bodies are less exposed to UVB rays and therefore sometimes won’t be able to get enough. Some people who are deficient in vitamin D notice:

  1. Weakened immune system: during the winter, if you’re catching every cold that comes along one of the reasons for this could be due to vitamin D deficiency. Your seasonal outbreaks could be due to lower levels of vitamin D and melatonin in the body because of less exposure to sunlight. These lower levels can comprise the immune system, making us far more likely to develop those niggling colds during winter (1).
  2. Worsening asthma: studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D could make asthma worse (2). Low levels of vitamin D can affect lung function and patient’s responses to treatments. Adding a vitamin D supplement to your routine could help you breathe easier this winter.
  3. Muscle weakness, bones aches and joint pain: if you’re legs feel heavy, notice difficulty getting out of your chair or are generally feeling weak this could be due to lack of vitamin D in the body affecting your muscles (3) and bones. Being deficient can lead to bone deformities including rickets in children and joint pain and tenderness, muscle weakness and pain in the spine, ribs, shoulder or pelvis in adults, due to a condition called osteomalacia (soft bones). If you play sport it’s essential to keep your vitamin D levels topped up to maintain performance.
  4. Low mood and irritability: one of the most talked about symptoms of vitamin D deficiency is feeling low or possibly displaying symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). To keep calm this winter exercise, a healthier diet and mindfulness techniques can be useful ways to keep your mood in check.

To combat deficiency Public Health England recommends that everyone over the age of one year should take a daily supplement providing 10mcg vitamin D during autumn and winter. This is very much a minimum to prevent deficiency diseases.

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References
1. http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2014/the-reason-for-the-season-why-flu-strikes-in-winter/
2. https://www.webmd.com/asthma/news/20100128/vitamin-d-may-ease-asthma
3. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/75/4/611.long

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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