Adequate vitamin D intake is important for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus absorption, maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, and is suggested to supply a protective effect against multiple diseases and conditions such as cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Think about vitamin D when you’re catching up on summer rays. It’s sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3. It can affect as many as 2,000 genes in the body.
No doubt, you’re probably familiar with the role of vitamin D in promoting healthy bones, largely by promoting the absorption of calcium. “If you have a vitamin D deficiency, particularly in your older years, it can lead to osteoporosis or osteomalacia [bone softening].
- Muscle Pain and Weakness
Osteomalacia (bone softening in adults) Adults who have severe vitamin D deficiency may experience bone pain and softness, as well as muscle weakness. Treatment for osteomalacia depends on the cause of the disease and often includes pain control and surgery, as well as vitamin D and phosphate-binding agents.
- Immune System Malfunction
It said that researchers believe that vitamin D plays a key role in boosting the immune system. It is important to have enough vitamin D to maintain a healthy body. Vitamin D forms in our skin in response to sunlight. However, care should be taken to avoid burning or over-exposure.It is now clear that vitamin D has important roles in addition to its classic effects on calcium and bone homeostasis. As the vitamin D receptor is expressed on immune cells (B cells, T cells and antigen presenting cells) and these immunologic cells are all are capable of synthesizing the active vitamin D metabolite, vitamin D has the capability of acting in an autocrine manner in a local immunologic milieu.
- Elevated Blood Pressure
Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to heart disease and a higher risk of high blood pressure (hypertension). However, more research is needed. It’s too early to say whether too little vitamin D causes high blood pressure — or whether vitamin D supplements may have any role in the treatment of high blood pressure.
- Anxiety or Mood Swings
Vitamin D receptors have been found in many parts of the brain. Receptors are found on the surface of a cell where they receive chemical signals. By attaching themselves to a receptor, these chemical signals direct a cell to do something, for example to act in a certain way, or to divide or die.
Some of the receptors in the brain are receptors for vitamin D, which means that vitamin D is acting in some way in the brain. These receptors are found in the areas of the brain that are linked to the development of depression. For this reason, vitamin D has been linked with depression and with other mental health problems.
- Stomach and Gut Issues
Low vitamin D levels are related to poor stomach emptying as well as bloating and constipation or “irritable bowel”. The irritable bowel may result from losing our “happy, helpful” bacteria in our lower GI tract. They die off when we don’t supply the vitamin D the bacteria also need to survive. Because those same colonic bacteria supply 7/8 of the B vitamins we need on a daily basis, some of my patients have vitamin D deficiency and secondary B vitamin deficiencies. (At least 2 of the B vitamins, B5 and B12, are needed to sleep normally) So there are secondary B vitamin deficiencies that may also have to be corrected before the sleep will return to normal.”
- Chronic Sweating
According to Dr. Holick, one of the first, classic signs of vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head. In fact, 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.
- Cardiovascular Disorders
A growing number of studies point to vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for heart attacks, congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), strokes, and the conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Dr. Erin Michos, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the Division of Cardiology, has examined and contributed a great deal of data on vitamin D deficiency and the heart, including a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. She stops short, however, of stating that raising vitamin D levels lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Foods that provide vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.
- Beef liver.
- Egg yolks.