Are you vitamin D deficient?
How to you tell if you are vitamin D deficient?
Our last blog post – Guide to: Vitamin D – ‘The Sunshine Vitamin’– highlights the importance of vitamin D, the fact that it is a global problem and how you can use indoor tanning to boost your vitamin D levels. What I thought I would do next is introduce you to some of the most common tell-tail symptoms or signs that you may be vitamin D deficient:
You feel down, depressed or blue
When you expose yourself to sunlight / UV light, your levels of serotonin increase. Serotonin is the brain hormone linked to mood elevation.
In 2006, scientists tested the effects of vitamin D on 80 elderly patients and found that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more likely to be depressed than those who received healthy doses.
You are 50 years or older
As you get older your skin does not produce as much vitamin D in response to UV light exposure. Furthermore, your kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D into the form used by your body. Instead of spending more time indoors as you get older, you actually need to spending more time outdoors – a perfect excuse to book another holiday.
Tanning outside to boost vitamin D levels: Dr Holick, a vitamin D expert, recommends that you bath in the sun for approximately spend half the time it takes your skin to develop a minor tan, before you apply a high quality sun cream. Dr Holick also recommends that you always wear sun cream on your face as this is always exposed to sunlight. Here at Cyrano we stock the world’s leading brand of sun cream – Australian Gold.
You are overweight, obese or have a higher muscle mass
Vitamin D is fat soluble, which means that any body fat you have absorbs it. Hence, if you are overweight or obese you are going to need more vitamin D than a slimmer person. The same also holds for those have higher muscle mass.
Your bones ache
According to Dr. Holick, many people who see their doctor for aches and pains, especially in combination with fatigue, end up being misdiagnosed as having fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
“Many of these symptoms are classic signs of vitamin D deficiency osteomalacia, which is different from the vitamin D deficiency that causes osteoporosis in adults,” he says. “What’s happening is that the vitamin D deficiency causes a defect in putting calcium into the collagen matrix into your skeleton. As a result, you have throbbing, aching bone pain.”
According to Dr. Holick, one of the first, classic signs of vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head. Physicians used to ask new mothers about head sweating in their newborns for this very reason. Excessive sweating in newborns due to neuromuscular irritability is still described as a common, early symptom of vitamin D deficiency.
You Have Gut Trouble
As mentioned, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means if you have gastrointestinal condition that affects your ability to absorb fat, you may have lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D as well. This includes gut conditions like Crohn’s, celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and inflammatory bowel disease.
You Have Darker Skin
Your skin pigment acts as a natural sunscreen, so the more pigment you have, the more time you’ll need to spend in the sun to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.
African Americans are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, because if you have dark skin, you may need as much as 10 times more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a person with pale skin!
What should you do if you have any of these symptoms?
There are two ways you can find out if you have a vitamin D deficiency. You can go and see your GP and ask them to do a vitamin D test. Or, alternatively, if you want to avoid the waiting times and reduce the workload at your local clinic, you can order a test kit with the NHS online. It costs £28, you do it at home and you normally get the results within 5 days.
If you do turn out to be vitamin D deficient, check our previous blog post for information on how to use tanning beds to increase your vitamin D levels. You can just take a vitamin D supplement, but a lot can also be said for the additional benefits of UV exposure that extend beyond vitamin D – the topic of our next post.
Still want to learn more? Below you can watch a YouTube video with Dr Holick, an expert on vitamin D.