Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may be generally be characterized by muscle pain, bone fractures, low energy and fatigue, lowered immunity, symptoms of depression and mood swings, and sleep irregularities.
Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with a long list of chronic illnesses. Since most of these problems are very complex, and take many years to manifest, the connection between them and the symptoms of vitamin D deficiencies have never been examined.
While many of these health issues may also have other causes, low vitamin D levels are a common factor found in all of them.
Now, even though these are all symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, none of them are necessarily evidence that vitamin D deficiencies are the cause. However, since vitamin D plays such a pivotal role in strengthening your immune system, it's easy to see that a weakened immune system could easily lead to any of the above conditions.
Soft Bone Disorders. The most familiar health problems resulting from low levels of vitamin D are soft bone disorders, called rickets in children, osteomalacia in adults, and osteoporosis in seniors. Soft bone disorders indicate an inadequate supply of calcium to strengthen bones, which is usually a direct result of inadequate vitamin D supplies.
Rickets is a childhood disease characterized by stumped growth and deformed long bones, especially in the legs and arms. The role of diet in the development of rickets was determined by Edward Mellanby in the early 20th century, which led to the discovery of vitamin D. This condition can have very severe effects on the development of the bones.
Children with rickets may have fragile bones that are easily fractured. They may also develop bowed legs, pelvic bone deformities, spine curvatures and protruding breastbones. Children with rickets may experience bone pain in their legs, pelvis and spine.
Rickets may also result in poor muscle tone, which may lead to muscle weakness. Rickets may delay the formation of some teeth. It may also increase the risk of cavities, and decrease the amount of enamel on the teeth.
Osteomalacia is a bone-thinning disorder that occurs exclusively in adults and is characterized by muscle weakness and bone fragility. It does not usually result in bone deformities in adults. Adults with osteomalacia may experience bone pain in their legs, pelvis and spine. They are more at risk of breaking bones in their legs, spine and ribs.
Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by reduced bone mineral density and increased bone fragility. Bones affected by osteoporosis are more at risk of fracturing. These fractures occur with just a slight amount of stress, much less than in healthy people not affected by osteoporosis. Typical fractures occur in the spinal column, hip and wrist.
Numerous recent studies have shown that vitamin D deficiencies are at epidemic levels. Here's just a sampling:
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published a study in the March 2010 issue that found that 59 percent of the population is vitamin D deficient. In addition, nearly 25 percent of the study subjects were found to have extremely low levels of vitamin D.
You might take note that these are all diseases that are growing at a alarming rate all over the world.
The Life Extension Foundation analyzed results from 13,892 blood tests in members who had their blood levels of vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) evaluated from March 2008 to September 2009.
The startling findings looked like this:
The Whitaker Wellness Center, the largest alternative medical clinic in America, tests nearly every patient for their vitamin D levels when they are admitted. And guess what they find? Roughly 95% of new patients have deficient vitamin D levels.
Most hospitals in America - and most doctors practicing medicine — don't even test for vitamin D levels. Why not? Because doctors are nutritionally illiterate. They are so absorbed with more lucrative therapies like drugs, surgeries and toxic chemotherapy treatments that they have completely overlooked the simplest and most powerful tool for health and healing: nutrition.
It's clear that widespread vitamin D deficiencies exist today. Study after study confirms that they exist. This begs the question: Why are governmental health organizations and medical professionals not urging the people to get a reasonable amount of sun exposure or supplement with vitamin D?
If you have severe symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, seek a professional medical consultation and get a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test to confirm your vitamin D levels. Be aware that most of today’s doctors received little or no training in medical school in diagnosing symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. They also do not routinely test for vitamin D deficiencies, as they should.
See my page on Vitamin D Blood Test for more information.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, you would be wise to assess your intake of vitamin D. Since sunlight is, by far, your best source, estimate the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight every week.
In addition, if you live north of 30 degrees latitude (virtually the entire United States), the sun's rays aren't strong enough for about half of the year to produce any vitamin D at all.
In light of all the evidence for widespread vitamin D deficiency, it's safe to assume that you are probably deficient as well. Unless you live in the tropics or already take ample vitamin D supplements, it's almost certain that you are.
Fortunately, getting adequate vitamin D is easy — in the summer months, take a few short sunbathing sessions each week. Your skin produces over 10,000IU of vitamin D with just 30 minutes summer sun exposure in a bathing suit (without sunscreen).
In the winter months, you should use supplements. Make sure to get natural vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Don't use the synthetic and inferior vitamin D2.
Is the government RDA for vitamin D set high enough? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a review study in the July 2006 issue that found that the recommended daily intakes of between 200 and 600IU of vitamin D were insufficient to provide the greatest health benefits of vitamin D, such as good bone mineral density, dental health, fractures and cancer prevention. It's really not practical to get any higher amounts with diet alone.
Recommended dosages for preventive health now call for at least 1,000-2,000IU as a minimum daily dose. 5,000IU per day is not unreasonable, especially if you get little or no sunlight, live in northern latitudes, or are dark-skinned or overweight. If your levels are low to begin with, it can take a few months of a much higher dosage to raise your vitamin D levels using supplements.
See Vitamin D Dosage for more details.
Other pages on this website about vitamin D:
Other Great Resources for Vitamin D Information:
Grassroots Health A consortium committed to solving the worldwide vitamin D deficiency epidemic.
Dr. Mercola Lecture on the most up-to-date science on vitamin D.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need? An article by Dr. Mercola.
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