While vitamin D deficiency is quite common, the symptoms can be subtle and easily overlooked. This can be problematic in that vitamin D plays such an important role in our overall health, particularly when it comes to our bone health, immune functioning, and mood. If you suspect you might have a deficiency, this post is an excellent starting point. We’re explain the importance of vitamin D in our daily functioning, common causes and symptoms of a deficiency, as well as 6 vitamin D deficiency remedies to give your body a natural boost!
Why is Vitamin D Important?
Vitamin D plays an important role in keeping your body healthy as it helps with calcium absorption and promotes bone health. A vitamin D deficiency can cause bones to soften and weaken in children (a condition called ‘rickets’), and prevent bones from hardening in adults (a condition called ‘osteomalacia’), making bones more likely to bend and break. Vitamin D can also protect you against many other health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, certain cancers, and multiple sclerosis. A deficiency in vitamin D is also thought to be linked to weight gain and depression.
6 Symptoms of a Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common, particularly among people who live far away from the equator and have limited exposure to the sun. Having dark skin, being over the age of 50, consuming little to no fish and dairy, and being overweight also increases your risk of having a vitamin D deficiency.
If you suspect you may be deficient in vitamin D, here are 6 symptoms to look for:
- Bone pain
- Low bone mineral density
- Muscle weakness and pain
- Getting sick more frequently
What Causes a Vitamin D Deficiency?
- Lack of sun exposure. Living far from the equator, being housebound, wearing clothing that covers large areas of your body, etc. can all increase your risk for a vitamin D deficiency since your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun.
- Having dark skin. Since the pigment melanin makes it harder for the skin to produce vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight, those with darker skin are at a higher risk for a vitamin D deficiency.
- Diet. Vitamin D is found in fish, fish oils, beef liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods. If your diet is deficient in any or all of these, you are at an increased risk of a vitamin D deficiency.
- Age. As we age, our kidneys are unable to convert vitamin D to its active form.
- Weight. Having a BMI over 30 increases your risk of a vitamin D deficiency.
- Certain medical conditions like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease make it harder for your digestive tract to absorb vitamin D.
6 Vitamin D Deficiency Remedies
While there are guidelines regarding the recommended daily vitamin D intake, it can be a bit subjective as many other factors need to be taken into account, such as a persons skin color, age, weight, where they live, and how much sun exposure they have. Daily dosage recommendations range from 600-2,000 IU, but it’s always best to consult with a doctor to discuss goals specific to you and your needs.
If you are deficient in vitamin D, here are 6 vitamin D deficiency remedies to try.
1. SUN EXPOSURE
Since your skin produces vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, it makes sense that one of the easiest vitamin D deficiency remedies is to spend more time in the sun. The trick is knowing how much time is needed for your body to produce enough vitamin D. Many factors contribute to this, including the color of your skin, your age and weight, your proximity to the equator, and the type of clothing you wear. Sunscreen is another factor to think about. Applying sunscreen is extremely important in protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, but it can block vitamin D production. So, while spending time in the sun may sound like a quick fix, it isn’t necessarily enough – nor is it always safe or possible – which is why it’s so important to try a combination of vitamin D deficiency remedies.
2. FATTY FISH AND SEAFOOD
As mentioned earlier, certain foods provide natural sources of vitamin D, with fatty fish and seafood being the highest in vitamin D. If you’re looking for vitamin D deficiency remedies, consume more canned salmon, tuna, shrimp, sardines, mackerel, and oysters for a tasty, natural boost!
3. EGG YOLKS
Adding egg yolks to your diet is another simple option for those in search of natural vitamin D deficiency remedies. Keep in mind that the amount of vitamin D supplied by eggs can vary based on how much sunlight chickens are exposed to, so opt for free-range and pastured eggs whenever possible.
If you’re looking for creative ways to incorporate egg yolks into your diet, THIS POST has tons of delicious ideas to inspire you!
4. VITAMIN D FORTIFIED FOODS
Vitamin D is often added to fortified foods since very few foods contain high concentrations of vitamin D. If you’re looking for natural vitamin D deficiency remedies, fortified foods like dairy, orange juice, plant-based milks, and cereals can help. Check the labels on these items to see how much vitamin D they contain.
5. UV LAMPS AND BULBS
UV lamps and bulbs are sometimes recommended for people who are at risk for a vitamin D deficiency and/or who aren’t able to absorb vitamin D, but should be used with caution. Not only are they expensive, but they pose a risk for skin cancer, so should only be used under the direction of a medical doctor.
Given that sun exposure isn’t always possible or safe, and it’s difficult to accurately measure how much vitamin D certain foods contain, supplements are often the most effective option for those looking for vitamin D deficiency remedies. Many multivitamins include vitamin D, and you can buy it as a stand alone supplement as well. Keep in mind that consuming too much vitamin D can be harmful and lead to a conditional called ‘vitamin D toxicity’, resulting in nausea and vomiting, poor appetite, weight loss, and constipation. It can also lead to a condition called hypercalcemia (high levels of blood calcium), which causes problems with heart rhythm and feelings of confusion and disorientation. Consult with your doctor to confirm if vitamin D supplements are right for you, as well as how much you should take, how often you should take them, and for how long.
If you’re looking for natural vitamin D deficiency remedies, I hope the ideas in this post prove useful to you! Remember to exercise caution when exposing your skin to direct sunlight and/or UV lamps and bulbs, increase your consumption of fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods, and consider using a vitamin D supplement if you’re housebound and/or live far away from the equator.