With a lack of summer rays our vitamin D levels can fall by up to 30% in winter. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to ultra-violet light (UVB) from sunlight. We are therefore more prone to Vitamin D deficiency in winter or if we never expose our skin to UVB rays.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, keeping teeth and bones strong. It plays a role in keeping the immune system healthy and is thought to assist prevention of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and even some cancers.
The best source of Vitamin D is daily exposure to sunlight. However, small amounts can be obtained through the diet with cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, mushrooms and dairy.
The only way to diagnose vitamin D deficiency is via blood testing. There are some signs and symptoms however to be aware of. If any of these seem familiar it may be wise to get your levels tested.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency:
1. Flat or Depressed Mood
Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a low mood and depression. The brain chemical Serotonin that helps us to feel good increases with exposure to sunlight and decreases when there is a lack of sunlight. This may be why many people feel sad in winter and happier in summer.
2. A low fat diet
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means if you do not include fats in your diet you will absorb less fat soluble vitamins. Malabsorption gut conditions This includes gut conditions like Crohn’s, IBS and celiac disease can also result in vitamin D deficiency.
3. Dark skin tone
The pigment in your skin acts as a natural sunscreen. The skin requires sunlight to manufacture Vitamin D so if your skin has more pigment, the more your skin is protected from the sun and the longer you need in the sun to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.
4. Aching bones
Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia type symptoms such as tiredness, aching bones and muscles can be symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D helps the bones absorb calcium. If there is a deficiency of vitamin D the bones can become weak resulting in aching bones.
5. Excess Sweating
A classic sign of vitamin D deficiency is excess sweating, particularly a sweaty head or hands. This can occur in children and adults.
Low Vitamin D levels can be hard to detect as deficiency signs are easily missed, a blood test is the best way to check Vitamin D levels. If low, a supplement may be recommended until your levels raise to a satisfactory level.