The “Archives of Internal Medicine” has recently mentioned that 77% of all Americans are dealing with a vitamin D deficiency. The news is not very optimistic, since vitamin D deficiency is usually associated with different conditions and symptoms, such as autoimmune diseases, bone health, obesity, muscle weakness and cancer. Besides, since more and more people have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the recent period, physicians have started to believe that many of these conditions are actually caused by vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is a soluble-fat nutrient that is produced by the skin whenever it enters in contact with UVB rays. This vitamin can also be taken from foods such as oily fish (salmon) and fortified milk. When measuring its level in the blood, vitamin D is referred to as 25 hydroxyvitamin D. People who measure their vitamin D levels should know that what is between 30 and 80 is good. Those whose vitamin D level falls under 30 are diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency.
According to several specialists, vitamin D works together with the leptin hormone in regulating body weight. This hormone is produced by fat cells and its function is to send signals to the brain and let people know that they’re full and should stop eating. When a person is dealing with vitamin D deficiency, this signal doesn’t work properly anymore, since the vitamin is the one that makes sure that leptin does its job. As a result, those who are vitamin D deficient have a tendency to overeat because they cannot figure out if they’re full or not.
The connection between fatigue and vitamin D deficiency was made by Dowd, a doctor who moved from one city to another and soon noticed that his health experienced a decline. His symptoms included stiff joints, sore, and fatigue, exactly what most of his patients who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia were complaining of. Knowing that it cannot be fibromyalgia, he decided to take a vitamin D supplement, whose effects became visible in a couple of days. Although Dowd knew that vitamin D was essential for the human body, leading to persistent weight gain, pain, and fatigue, he had never imagined that even his patients who suffered from fibromyalgia could get rid of pain and fatigue by taking vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D plays a major role in helping the human body absorb calcium, so a vitamin D deficiency can be very dangerous, especially for children, as they can develop rickets (a disease in which the muscles are weak and the bones hurt). This condition is also present in adults under the name of osteomalacia, and its symptoms include bone pain and weak muscles. Vitamin D deficiencies can also affect the bone health of old people, leading to osteoporosis, a disease that comes with a high risk of fractures and brittle bones.
Recent studies have shown that a low vitamin D level can increase the chances of developing cancer. According to Harvard School of Public Health, vitamin D is closely related to colon cancer, even though it can also lead to prostate and breast cancer.
One of the main tasks fulfilled by vitamin D is that of supporting the immune system function. As a result, specialists have noticed a strong connection between autoimmune diseases and vitamin D. When someone suffers from an autoimmune disease, his or her body virtually attacks its organs. Harvard School of Public Health has mentioned that multiple sclerosis, one of these autoimmune diseases, is highly met in far south or north of the equator. Another condition associated with vitamin D is type 1 diabetes, and the great news is that most of the children suffering from it have improved their condition after having received vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D is also connected to mortality rates, since several studies have shown that people who take vitamin D supplements can reduce their death rates with almost 7%. However, the link between vitamin D and overall mortality needs to be studied more before drawing a conclusion.
People who suffer from vitamin D deficiency should speak to their physicians before taking any treatment. In case the results show that you are vitamin D deficient, your doctor will probably prescribe a supplement that should be taken for eight weeks, as long as the weekly dose of 50,000 international vitamin D units is not exceeded.