Vitamin D’s billing as the “Sunshine Vitamin” tells you much about where you can expect to obtain it, as well as why so many health professionals are concerned that some of us may not currently be getting enough of it. Indeed, in its “coronavirus update”, the NHS has advised us to consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to support the health of our bones and muscles.
Thankfully, with the lockdown restrictions of the last few months now being loosened, you might soon find it progressively easier to obtain sufficient vitamin D without having to pay much additional attention to your diet.
Whatever your circumstances, though, the following may be indicators that you could do with upping your vitamin D intake.
Day-to-day tiredness and fatigue are extremely common. Furthermore, the potential causes – including, but not restricted to, stress, sedentary living and not getting sufficient high-quality sleep – are so wide-ranging that you might initially overlook vitamin D deficiency as a possible culprit.
There have been a fair few studies down the years suggesting a link between inadequate vitamin D and fatigue, though. An observational study of Iranian nurses, for instance, found a “significant relationship” between the two, while one case study in 2010 involving a 28-year-old woman with chronic daytime fatigue, found that her symptoms resolved when she took a vitamin D supplement.
If you’ve had surgery or injured yourself lately, it’s worth considering whether low vitamin D levels could be at fault. Indeed, the results of a test-tube study published in 2016 indicated that “supplementation of vitamin D may be an important step to improve wound healing and regeneration in patients with a vitamin D deficiency.”
That was due to the researchers discovering that upping vitamin D intake seemed to also heighten the production of compounds that are key to the formation of new skin as wounds heal.
There are a lot of factors that can lead to hair loss, of course, including stress. However, in more severe cases, nutrient deficiency is certainly a possibility well worth investigating.
While there is some ambiguity with regard to the link between vitamin D and depression – observational studies often showing more of a connection than controlled trials, which carry greater scientific weight – it seems some links do exist that we shouldn’t dismiss out of hand.
A 2019 review summed this up, stating that while “the data regarding the relationship between vitamin D and depression are conflicting... depressive symptoms could be eased in people with very low levels of vitamin D through vitamin D supplementation.”
Vitamin D’s association with bone health is rather better known than its link with tiredness. So, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that research has also uncovered a “positive association of vitamin D deficiency with a variety of nonspecific bone pain, particularly in women.”
That particular study indicated that vitamin D deficiency almost doubled the likelihood of bone pain in the legs, ribs or joints. Multiple studies – such as this one that looked at postmenopausal women – have also pointed to back pain occurring more often among those deficient in vitamin D.
As we touched on above, vitamin D has a reputation for being good for the muscles, as is supported by various studies. This one in 2015, for example, found that more than 86% of the participating children with growing pains had insufficient vitamin D, but that a single dose of the vitamin greatly helped to reduce their pain scores.
Other research, in 2014, looked at 174 patients with a mean age of 48, all of whom suffered from chronic pain, with 71% of them discovered to be deficient.
We’ve written previously on the Tonic Health blog about how vitamin D supports the immune system. Indeed, it has been noted previously by researchers that it can play an important role in anti-inflammatory response and the regulation of immune function; by contrast, being deficient in vitamin D has been linked to chronic disease.
So, if you’ve not exactly been feeling on top form lately, it’s well worth considering whether you might not have been getting sufficient amounts of the “Sunshine Vitamin” in your life. It could be the perfect excuse for you to get ‘out and about’ a bit more, now that many of us are finally in a much better position to do just that.