Symptoms and Complications of Vitamin D3 Deficiency
Vitamin D3 the natural form of vitamin D, one of the few vitamins your body makes itself rather than requiring through diet. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning you need a proper amount of dietary fat to fully absorb it into your bloodstream. When ultraviolet light hits your skin, the liver and kidneys produce vitamin D3. It has several health benefits, aiding in bone growth and density, and bone health. However, up to nine percent of adults in the U.S. are vitamin D-deficient, and this deficiency can lead to several health concerns. Vitamin D3 is critical to many systems in the body, from nutrient absorption to healthy bones. When levels are low, chronic vitamin D deficiency sets in and leads to more serious conditions. It’s linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer, as well as heart disease, clinical depression, and weight gain. Other signs and symptoms you may be deficient:
If you’re low in vitamin D3, you may feel tired all the time and fatigued even when you’re getting a good night’s sleep. You may feel like you don’t have the energy to keep up with everyday things. Vitamin D3 helps keep the body energized because it works toward good health in so many ways, including keeping the immune system healthy and enabling healing. Several research studies found a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and excessive fatigue. Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin D3 helped improve energy levels.
Those who have low vitamin D3 are at a greater risk of catching colds and developing infections because the vitamin is essential for keeping the immune system strong and capable of fighting off infections. Colds, the flu, and several bacterial infections have been linked with vitamin D deficiency. Likewise, if you get infections frequently, you may have low vitamin D3 and should ask a doctor about having your levels checked.
3. Back Pain and Bone Pain
Vitamin D3 helps your body absorb calcium. Without vitamin D3, your body cannot use the calcium and other minerals you ingest to maintain strong bones. Studies show insufficient vitamin D3 can cause pain in the back and leg bones, joints, and ribs. This may be due to gradual bone loss.
4. Muscle Pain
Deficiency in vitamin D3 may cause muscle pain. One study of people with chronic muscle pain showed that 71 percent of them were deficient in this essential nutrient. Several other studies show that vitamin D3 supplements can decrease pain in those with deficiencies who are also dealing with chronic pain.
People who are overweight or obese may have low levels of vitamin D3. Fat cells will often absorb vitamin D3 instead of letting the vitamin do its important work. Malabsorption of various nutrients, including vitamin D, is associated with obesity; if you are overweight, make sure that you have enough vitamin D3 to contribute to your body’s health.
6. Cognitive disorders
If you are constantly forgetting things, you may be dealing with a lack of vitamin D3. Low vitamin D3 is a risk factor for disorders such as dementia and cognitive impairment, especially in older adults. People who have dementia show a marked decrease in vitamin D3.
Low levels of vitamin D3 can lead to depression. Doctors have discovered a close link between depression and inadequate levels of vitamin D3 in the bloodstream, especially in older adults. One study showed that 65 percent of subjects with depression also had low vitamin D3.
8. Slow Healing
If you get injured and it takes a long while for you to heal, it might be because you have an inadequate amount of vitamin D3. The nutrient is crucial for rebuilding new skin, so having too little can result in wounds healing slowly, especially after surgery.
9. Hair Loss
If you’re losing your hair, one possible cause is a deficiency in vitamin D3. People with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that affects the hair, seem to be at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D stimulates hair follicles to grow. New, healthy follicles help maintain thickness and prevent hair loss.
10. Intestinal Distress
Vitamin D is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, and low levels of vitamin D3 are linked to inflammatory bowel disease, and, consequently, an increased risk of colon cancer. Clostridium difficile infection occurs at a higher rate among people with IBD, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Studies show that vitamin D supplementation may help lower this risk as it aids in reducing inflammation throughout the body.
11. Increased Insulin Resistance
Vitamin D3 is necessary for the production of insulin and increases the body’s sensitivity to it. Recent studies show a correlation between higher vitamin D intake and insulin sensitivity. People with diabetes may find their symptoms worsen with a lack of adequate vitamin D.
12. Bone Loss
The body needs calcium and phosphorus to build and maintain strong bones, and both nutrients require vitamin D for this process. When vitamin D levels drop to an unhealthy level, people, particularly women, are susceptible to bone loss and bone-thinning diseases such as osteoporosis. After menopause, women need to take care to get enough vitamin D and eat calcium-rich foods to help protect against these risks. Children are also susceptible to bone loss, which can lead to diseases such as rickets.
13. Poor Cardiovascular Health
While it is not understood exactly why, there is a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and cardiovascular disease. Because vitamin D is synthesized in the skin and requires sunlight, people with darkly pigmented skin and senior populations are at a greater risk for low levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
14. Erectile Dysfunction
Because low levels of vitamin D are related to cardiovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease, the deficiency can also cause complications with blood circulation, which contributes to erectile dysfunction. Vitamin D’s ability to lower inflammation in the body also helps mitigate erectile dysfunction because increased inflammation can impair the body’s ability to get and maintain an erection.
Many people have low levels of vitamin D, but most of us don’t need a vitamin D test. We just need to make simple changes so we get enough vitamin D. We need to get a little more sun. Even if you are at risk for other diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, a vitamin D test isn’t usually helpful. The test results are unlikely to change the advice from your health care provider. It is much more important for you to make lifestyle changes first—to stop smoking, aim for a healthy weight and be physically active. Taking a supplement, especially in cream form, can also help.