Wondering if you’re getting enough Vitamin D? The short answer is, probably not. In fact, it’s estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of Vitamin D in their blood. And that’s a pretty big deal. Here’s why: Low Vitamin D has been linked to everything from heart disease and cancer to the flu and osteoporosis. That’s why getting enough Vitamin D should be a top priority on your checklist of living a healthy, happy life.
One of the plethora of reasons so many people suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency? The belief we all get enough of it from the sun. Yes, your body does soak up that valuable Vitamin D from the sun — but, unfortantely, your sunscreen will dull those benefits. Before you throw out the single most important product in your skincare routine (don’t even think about it!), opt for adding a Vitamin D supplement to your daily vitamins.
The Vitamin D Council recommends healthy adults take 2,000 IU of Vitamin D daily — but that amount should be increased if you have certain lifestyle or health factors, like obesity, that affect your daily intake. That’s why consulting with your physician — and having him or her test your Vitamin D levels — is always a good idea. This is especially true if you’re showing signs of a Vitamin D deficiency.
Here are just a few of the things to look for — and act on, immediately:
You’re in Pain: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium — the building blocks of bones — from food. If you are low on Vitamin D in your blood, you won’t have enough of it to transport calcium into your bones. The result? Weak, brittle bones, which can increase your risk of injury, aches and lower back pain. Ouch! Vitamin D is needed for muscle fibers to develop and grow, which means a Vitamin D deficiency could affect muscle function and fitness levels, too.
You’re in a Daze: Vitamin D regulates the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, which regulates mood. If you’re having sad or hopeless feelings that you just can’t shake, it could be a sign of a Vitamin D deficiency.* And serotonin doesn’t just affect your mood; it also influences other cognitive functions, like decision making. If your head is all over the place, it could be a symptom of low Vitamin D.
You Keep Getting Sick: Studies have found low Vitamin D levels are linked to an increased risk of both upper and lower respiratory tract infections. Plus, people with low levels of Vitamin D are more likely to develop pneumonia than those with higher levels. If that cough keeps coming back and you can’t figure out why — and you wash your hands, get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet — it might be due to a Vitamin D deficiency. A number of studies have found that taking 4,000 IU of Vitamin D supplements daily might reduce your risk of respiratory tract infections – and that’s worth a convo with your doc.
Remember, Vitamin D can also be added to your diet with a few key foods, too. Think fresh Atlantic salmon; canned tuna; pasture-raised, cage-free eggs (don’t forget the yolk!), wild mushrooms, and Vitamin D-fortified foods like cow and soy milk. But think of Vitamin D-rich foods and sunshine as the icing on the cake — you still probably need a Vitamin D supplement to ensure you’re getting enough.