A recent article in the Daily Telegraph highlighted the issue of Vitamin D deficiency and how the current recommended intake was woefully inadequate.
Despite the huge body of research available from extensive studies over the last 20 years, there are still those advising caution in terms of increasing the recommended daily intake or fortifying foods with Vitamin D.
One has to seriously ask the reason why?
What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency?
Widespread Vitamin D deficiency seems directly connected to the fact that we are increasingly spending less time outdoors and thus enjoying less exposure to sunlight.
This is down to a multitude of factors, the main one being a marked upturn in the use of multimedia indoors (TVs, laptops etc).
Of course, it’s not only by choice: the sad truth is that, in the UK at least, we don’t experience enough sunlight throughout autumn and winter for our bodies to be able to synthesise the Vitamin D we so badly need for proper calcium and phosphorus absorption, strong bones, healthy muscle function and reliable immune function.
Exposure of your whole body to sunlight for 20 minutes can produce as much as 10,000 i.u. of Vitamin D. Yet the recommended daily intake is a mere 400 i.u (10 mcg).
The use of sun blockers to reduce skin cancer is also likely impacting our Vitamin D uptake. Of course, it is not good to get sunburnt but it is good to get plenty of sun exposure.
Many of the research studies have shown that adequate levels of Vitamin D are not only beneficial for skeletal health but have benefits for the health of our cardiovascular system, for prevention of certain types of cancers and in enhancing our immunity and helping to alleviate depression.
One of the best resources on the web in terms of Vitamin D research is www.vitamindcouncil.org.
This website is a veritable treasure trove of information and analysis, including insights into the latest research studies and tips on how to determine whether you are Vitamin D deficient.
The majority of people in Northern Europe would probably benefit from Vitamin D supplementation and particularly those with dark skin.
The latest research suggests that the dosage of Vitamin D3 for children should be 1000 i.u., for teenagers and young adults 2,000 i.u. and for those over 40 years, 4,000 i.u.
Vitamin D supplementation is relatively inexpensive but nonetheless, for the majority of us, vitally important.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency: Dizziness, Hair Loss, Fatigue
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency – from dizziness and fatigue to hair loss, flu and even weight gain – are well-documented and will naturally vary from person to person.
In this article we intend to summarise the main symptoms associated with an underlying Vitamin D deficiency so that you can better educate yourself as to the signs that you may be missing out.
In 2014, a study published in the European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology determined that a form of vertigo (known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) was closely linked to low Vitamin D levels.
The BPPV condition, which occurs suddenly with a change in head movement and is characterised by dizziness and loss of balance, was more prevalent among those with low Vitamin D levels.
What’s more, Vitamin D levels were significantly lower among subjects who experienced recurrent BPPV compared to those with non-recurrent BPPV.
Furthermore, a follow-up study confirmed that increasing one’s Vitamin D3 status resulted in a substantial decrease in the recurrence of BPPV.
• Hair Loss
Since one role Vitamin D plays is to stimulate hair follicles, it stands to reason that a lack of Vitamin D in the body would affect the rate at which new hair can grow.
Although more research is required, it is well known that areata – an inflammatory hair loss condition – is closely linked with Vitamin D deficiency or a mutation of the Vitamin D receptor.
In one study from 2012, a 7-year-old boy with reduced Vitamin D receptor expression benefited from topical application of a vitamin D analog. Hair loss among women has also been tied to insufficient Vitamin D levels.
Fatigue is probably one of the most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. This is likely due to Vitamin D’s influence on both skeletal muscle and immune function.
In a non-randomised therapeutic study from 2014, normalisation of Vitamin D levels significantly improved the severity of fatigue symptoms among cancer patients, although researchers were unable to say whether low Vitamin D played a role in fatigue among medically stable patients. However, it certainly seems like a good bet.
If improving Vitamin D status has no affect on your fatigue, there may be other factors at play; it is worth seeking medical advice. Tiredness is, after all, a complex issue.
Vitamin D and Depression
Is there a link between Vitamin D deficiency and depression? According to several large-scale studies, yes. The most recent, published in January 2018, assessed data from over 16,000 participants to investigate the impact of nutritional intervention on depression and anxiety outcomes.
Researchers found that of the 56% of participants identified as showing high levels of depression and anxiety, 97.2% reported improvements after one year.
Significant improvements were noted among those with a higher Vitamin D status (over 100 nmol/L) and greater levels of physical exercise.
The association between low levels of Vitamin D in the blood and depression is probably due to the number of Vitamin D receptors located in the brain – some of which exist in areas linked to the development of the condition.
One hypothesis is that Vitamin D affects chemicals such as serotonin and how they influence the brain. Another possibility is that low Vitamin D levels could be the effect, rather than the cause, of depression.
The important thing is to monitor your symptoms and determine the cause. If a Vitamin D deficiency is suspected, you can check your levels using a blood spot home-testing kit.
If and when a deficiency is confirmed, introduce a high-strength Vitamin D supplement – as recommended by the Vitamin D Council – and re-test periodically to ensure your levels remain in the desirable range.
Vitamin D Deficiency: NHS Guidelines
In 2016, in what was an unprecedented move, UK public health advice suggested everyone should consider taking Vitamin D supplements in autumn and winter.
Furthermore, analysis published one year later in the British Medical Journal claimed doing so could spare more than three million Brits from cold and flu each year.
As mentioned earlier, the UK Recommended Daily Amount is currently 400 i.u., or 10 mcg. It is our belief that the vast majority of people require a much higher amount.
We cite Professor Heaney of Creighton University, whose analysis determined that for a normal weight adult, 5,000 i.u. per day is required to attain a Vitamin D level of 100 nmol/L (40 ng/ml). This is defined as a target in line with that achieved by our evolutionary ancestors.
Consider a Vitamin D Supplement
The only way to ensure adequate blood Vitamin D is to spend enough time in the sun and/or use a vitamin D supplement.
We have a great choice in the form of a 5,000 i.u. sublingual vitamin D3 supplement. Exceptionally pure, these micro tablets dissolve under the tongue and quickly enter the bloodstream.
They are a particularly good option for people with gastrointestinal complaints or digestive problems and will help ensure that you always meet the intake advised by Professor Heaney, the Vitamin D Council and many other professional bodies.
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The association between low Vitamin D in the blood and depression is probably due to the number of Vitamin D receptors located in the brain – some of which exist in areas linked to the development of the condition.