Negative Side Effects of Low Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D is a nutrient that is necessary for many things including maintaining healthy skin, bones, and providing a natural boost of energy from the sun. Vitamin D is so important that your body makes it by itself after the skin is exposed to enough sunlight. However, due to people getting much of their vitamin D from sun exposure, many — especially those living in the Northern Hemisphere — suffer from vitamin D deficiency.

In fact, low levels of vitamin D is so common, that it affects an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. And while some foods, mainly eggs, fatty fish and mushrooms contain this critical vitamin, and some foods like milk and juice are being fortified with it, vitamin D deficiency is still a common problem that many may not even know they have. If you think that you may suffer from lack of vitamin D, here are some common side effects.

1. Fatigue

Fatigue can have many causes that aren’t even sleep related. Fatigue is a condition that can be characterized as low energy, loss of motivation, and simply feeling draggy. Vitamin D deficiency is one main cause of fatigue that is often overlooked, but shouldn’t be, simply because it is an energy producing vitamin.

Scientists have long suspected fatigue and low vitamin D levels to be related, but it wasn’t until recently when those beliefs were confirmed. In a 2016 study, researchers took 120 individuals who were experiencing fatigue and vitamin D deficiency. Participants were randomly given either a  single oral dose of 100,000 units of vitamin D or placebo. After the study, those given the doses of vitamin D noted significantly improvement in their energy levels.

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2. Depression

The low energy levels that are present in individuals with low levels of vitamin D could also lead to or be correlated with depression. While studies have been inconclusive for the most part, researchers at the Institute of Clinical Medicine studied depression in overweight and obese subjects to find the effect of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression.

After one year, symptoms improved, indicating a possible causal relationship between vitamin D supplementation and improved depression symptoms.

3. Slow wound healing

Vitamin D plays a critical role in the body’s ability to heal from wounds. This is because it controls genes that promote the formation of cathelicidin which is an antimicrobial peptide that helps the immune system fight off wound infections. If you find that your wounds are taking longer to heal, you may very well be low in vitamin D.

In fact, research conducted by the Wound Healing Research Group treated infected dermal fibroblasts (the layer of skin responsible for generating connective tissue to help it recover from injury) with vitamin D. Due to this, researchers were able to conclude that vitamin D may play an important role in improving wound healing in patients with a vitamin D deficiency.

4. Bone loss

Many older individuals with bone loss conditions like osteoporosis and rickets have been told that a calcium deficiency is to blame, when in fact, it could very well be a vitamin D deficiency. While it’s true that calcium is crucial for healthy bones, without Vitamin D, calcium cannot reach its full bone-building potential because the two work hand-in-hand. Calcium helps build and maintain bones, while vitamin D helps your body effectively absorb calcium. This is why some varieties of milk are fortified with vitamin D.

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So if you have made steps toward improving you bone quality by adding calcium to your diet, you need to start adding vitamin D tom ensure that the calcium is doing its job.

5. Getting sick often

Vitamin D plays a large role in helping your immune system work. In fact, vitamin D deficiency  is associated with increased autoimmune diseases as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.

A clinical review of vitamin D’s role in how the immune system functions found that it may play a role in the prevention of infections and may even be used as primary or adjuvant treatment for viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Furthermore, the review found that several other conditions like tuberculosis, psoriasis, eczema, Crohn’s disease, influenza, urinary tract infections and eye infections may also benefit from vitamin D.

Finally, while vitamin D supplementation may be necessary during the winter months, particularly if you live in the Northern Hemisphere and/or you don’t venture outside much, it isn’t necessary during the warmer months.

Researchers out of the UK found that 13 minutes outside during the middle of the day would give a person enough vitamin D exposure. Likewise, a study  out of Norway found that 30 minutes of sun exposure a day would provide enough of this incredible, life-sustaining and life improving vitamin.

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