Vitamin D deficiency symptoms
Getting your vitamin D tested before winter comes is a great idea because it’s only going to go downhill until summertime.
The main symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency are:
- General poor sense of well-being
- Discomfort in muscles, joints and bones
- Muscle cramps, weakness or discomfort
- Low mood, depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D)
- Getting sick all of the time or taking a long time to recover from infections or viruses.
- Low white blood cells (leukopenia), specifically low neutrophils (neutropenia).
- Increased risk of several different cancers
- Osteopenia or osteoporosis
- Flaring of autoimmune conditions like eczema, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc...
- Cold sore or shingles breakouts
- Hair loss
- There are too many too list!
Vitamin D deficiency causes - why vitamin D deficiency is so common
Reason #1: Lack of sun exposure
Reason #2: We don’t spend enough time outside. Most people work 9-5, so they’re not exposed to the sun during it’s prime hours during the summer
Reason #3: We apply sunscreen before sun exposure. If we block UV we don’t make vitamin D. I usually recommend getting 15-30 minutes of sun first, and then apply sunscreen.
Reason #4: We don’t have access to the summer sun for 8-9 months out of the year (In Canada).
Reason #5: Darker skin requires more sun exposure in order to make vitamin D. People with darker skin who immigrate to Canada should get vitamin D tested after they have been here for a couple of months. I’m finding significant vitamin D deficiencies in this population within months of moving here.
There are other reasons why the winter causes people to be fatigued and depressed (S.A.D) but vitamin D is one factor we can test and treat!
Why Vitamin D deficiency goes undiagnosed so frequently
It costs about $40 to test vitamin D through your ND or MD but it’s worth it. I’ve seen several patients do a complete 180 in terms of mood and energy levels once they're vitamin D levels start increasing to a normal level.
How to get healthy vitamin D levels
Another big issue is proper vitamin D supplementation. Clinically I find patients can be on a generic-brand vitamin D tablet for years and it won’t budge their vitamin D levels, but as soon as I switch them to D3 liquid from a good quality brand, vitamin D levels start to increase. They usually report a positive change in mood and overall sense of well-being almost immediately after switching from tablets to liquid. I’ve even had patients who came in on mega-doses of vitamin D tablets that didn't affect their vitamin D levels, and once I switched them to a D3 liquid, their levels started rising. Gel-caps seem to be a good runner up.
It's important to test vitamin D rather than just supplementing with it because too much vitamin D can be harmful to the body and worsen certain conditions. You shouldn’t be treating anything blindly. It's a good idea to retest 4 months after taking vitamin D to make sure it's actually rising and to make sure it's not getting too high.
Possible issues with vitamin D supplementation
1) A lanolin allergy: vitamin D is made from Lanolin, so if you have a lanolin allergy you should invest in a vegan vitamin D supplement made from lichen instead.
2) Magnesium deficiency: Vitamin D increases calcium levels and calcium depletes magnesium levels. If you start getting signs of magnesium deficiency (muscle cramping, constipation, muscle tension, headaches, etc...) please work with your naturopathic doctor to get your magnesium levels back up.
3) Kidney stones: Taking too much vitamin D for too long can contribute to kidney stone formation (calcium oxalate crystals). Testing vitamin D and calcium, as well as consuming foods or supplements with vitamin K can abate these risks.
Why liquid vitamin D is better than tablets or capsules
I also find that it's best to maintain vitamin D levels with a vitamin D3/K2 combination. Vitamin D can increase calcium levels and vitamin K directs calcium into the bones and teeth, rather than the kidneys (kidney stones) and arteries.
We should be putting more importance into vitamin D and testing it diligently since it’s responsible for preventing osteoporosis, keeping our immune system healthy, our mood and several other aspects of our health.
Thanks for reading!
I hope this article lessens the harsh effects of the winter for you.
Please share this article with your friends to spread the word, so we can all enjoy the winter!
If you live near Hamilton, Ontario and would like to book an appointment for my services and get your vitamin D levels tested please book here.
Dr. Justin Gallant ND