Can Low Vitamin D Cause Fatigue
by OmegaQuant | Nov 18, 2021 | Vitamin D
Low vitamin D levels have been associated with a variety of health issues from depression to dementia and from breast cancer to heart disease. Vitamin D deficiencies can also result in bone diseases such as rickets in children and osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults.
But you may not be aware that if youre not getting enough vitamin D, you may also suffer from dizziness, headaches, and yes, low energy and fatigue.
Especially this time of year, when the days are shorter, the sun sleeps longer, and were bracing ourselves for the winter doldrums, its not unusual for us to feel fatigued.
Nutritional Deficiencies That Cause Chronic Fatigue
So could a vitamin or mineral deficiency be the cause of your fatigue?
Yes. Amazingly even people living a good life, not having any food shortages can still experience nutritional deficiencies. This may be because they are not eating certain foods or because they have malabsorption problems.
It is always good to rule out mineral and vitamin deficiencies while looking for the root cause of fatigue.
If you are deficient in some nutrients, fatigue may become a debilitating companion. You see, vitamins and minerals play key roles in energy production and metabolism. Chronic fatigue therefore can be a sign you are missing some key vitamins and minerals in your diet.
It is advisable that to optimize your energy level you should make sure to eat nutrient-dense food. Unfortunately these days people are eating mostly calorie-dense foods full of bad fats and sugar and devoid of micronutrients.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutrition the study found that the majority of the US population do not consume the recommended dietary values in recommended amounts. In fact, the study called this current situation a dietary crisis.
No wonder many people are tired all the time. Even after a good sleep.
Sore Bones & Bone Loss
Vitamin D is known for its relationship to bone strength.
There is a relationship between vitamin D levels and bone pain, especially pain in your back, ribs, legs, and joints.
Low bone density may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency and can lead to an increased risk of fractures.
On top of this, vitamin D actually improves your bodys absorption of calcium, which further contributes to your bone density and health.
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How To Choose The Best D3 Supplement
When you’re looking for a D supplement, make sure to get one that is vitamin D-only. You don’t want a supplement that contains other vitamins and minerals.
You also want to make sure the supplement you choose has vitamin D in the form of cholecalciferol or calcitriol. These are the two forms of vitamin D that are most easily absorbed by the body.
Make sure to take a look at the dosage before you purchase a supplement. The recommended dose of vitamin D is 600 IU per day for adults. However, some people may need more or less depending on their health status.
In addition, you’ll want to consider the following:
Treatment Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D supplements
Sometimes calcium and phosphate supplements
Treatment of vitamin D deficiency involves taking high doses of vitamin D, usually daily by mouth, for about 1 month. After 1 month, the dose is usually reduced gradually to the usual recommended dose.
If muscle spasms are present or calcium is thought to be deficient, calcium supplements are also given. If phosphate is deficient, phosphate supplements are given. Usually, this treatment leads to a complete recovery.
People with a chronic liver or kidney disorder may require special formulations of vitamin D supplements.
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Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are at risk for vitamin D deficiency because their bodies need more of the vitamin than usual. During pregnancy, the baby’s needs for vitamin D increase, so the mother needs to have enough of the vitamin to meet her own needs and the baby’s.
Breastfeeding mothers also need extra vitamin D to ensure that their babies are getting enough of the vitamin.
Youre Often Tired And Feel Sluggish
Many studies have shown a direct link between fatigue and low levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream. One such study, published in The Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, showed that women low in vitamin D reported fatigue and an overall lower quality of life. Chronic fatigue impacts your life dramatically, and not in a good way. An easy fix to boost energy is to increase vitamin D intake.
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Complications Of Vitamin D Deficiency In Children
Rickets, a condition involving the softening of the bones, so that the skeleton develops deformities is a very common condition related to vitamin D deficiency and affects children worldwide.
In children, vitamin D deficiency primarily causes skeletal diseases because the growth of the skeleton demands certain levels of calcium, and lacking vitamin D impairs the bodyâs uptake of calcium. Vitamin D deficiency can therefore cause hypocalcemia , which in turn can cause rickets and osteoporosis.
Children experiencing hypocalcemia as a result of vitamin D deficiency may exhibit additional symptoms and health problems, such as seizures or tetany . If you are concerned that your child, or a child you know, may be affected by vitamin D deficiency, get a free symptom assessment by downloading the Ada app.
Youre Down And Depressed
There are times in our lives when a heavy veil falls over our mind and body. This could be due to loss and/or times of uncertainty. But for many, it occurs once a year, as soon as the days become shorter and the sun loses its presence in our lives. This is known as seasonal affective disorder .
SAD is a very real condition for a lot of people. And lack of vitamin D from sun exposure is the primary culprit. It makes sense then, that low vitamin D and depression go hand-in-hand. A 2008 study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, shows the direct correlation between low vitamin D and depression. Participants in the study who were overweight and/or obese found significant relief from their blues after taking high doses of vitamin D over a medically supervised period of one year.
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Youre Prone To Stress Fractures
Most people think of a lack of calcium when talking about bone health, which is true. However, without vitamin D, calcium doesnt get absorbed properly, says Jennifer Giamo, a nutritionist, certified personal trainer, and founder of New York City-based Trainers in Transit. Vitamin D, specifically D3, which increases calcium absorption, is critical to preventing bones from becoming thin and brittle. A study in The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery found that people who participate in higher-impact activities may need greater levels of vitamin D to reduce their risk of stress fractures. Note, people with high levels of calcium in their bodies due to underlying illness may need to use low doses of vitamin D as a supplement, or avoid it altogether. In addition to the vitamin D deficiency symptoms that can put you at risk, make sure you know these signs of a calcium deficiency.
Joint Pain And Inflammation
There’s a long list of conditions responsible for joint issues, but this is one you don’t hear about very often. “Low vitamin D levels in the blood cause an inflammatory response, causing pain and inflammation in the joints,” Springer says. So, if there’s no other explanation you can think of behind your joint pain, your vitamin D levels could be the culprit.
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Why Is Vitamin D Important For Your Health
You might know about the link between vitamin D deficiency and rickets .
Rickets is a condition which affects the bones. It causes them to become soft and weak, often leading to deformities and fractures.
In fact, vitamin D3 was first recognised when scientists were trying to work out why cod liver oil was so effective in dealing with rickets.
But our bones are not the only parts of our bodies that rely on enough vitamin D.
Lack of vitamin D has also been linked to muscle weakness and fatigue. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to an impaired immune system.
Vitamin D receptors in our brains help brain cells receive and understand chemical signals a lack of vitamin D is likely to affect the way our brain communicates.
What Does It Mean To Have A Vitamin D Deficiency
A vitamin D deficiency is, simply, when you dont have enough vitamin D in your body. In winter and when we’re spending more time indoors, we arent able to get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight, and we may need to top it up.
Some people will never get high enough vitamin D levels from sunlight as they dont get enough exposure to the sun. In these cases, its recommended to take a daily vitamin D supplement all year round.
With lockdown measures still in place across the UK, we need to stay home as much as possible. But were allowed to spend time outside to exercise, which on sunny days could be an excellent boost for your vitamin D, as well as providing other health benefits.
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Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Headaches
Research is finding an association, if not yet a cause and effect, between low levels of vitamin D and an increased risk for headaches.
A piece in Health.com reported on a study out of Finland in middle-aged men that found those with low-serum vitamin D were at greater risk for frequent headaches in comparison to those with higher vitamin D levels.
In fact, the article reported that men with the lowest levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to have headaches at least once a week in comparison to those with the highest levels.
Only 9.6% of the study population reported chronic headaches however, on average, those had lower levels of vitamin D compared to those without headaches . D are reported in both nanomoles per liter and nanograms per milliliter . One nmol/L is equal to 0.4 ng/mL, and 1 ng/mL is equal to 2.5 nmol/L.)
The study itself references numerous other studies with beneficial associations between vitamin D and headaches, although the study authors point out further research is needed.
This article from verywellhealth.com details three studies on vitamin D deficiency and the relation to headaches. The first study says the prevalence of migraine and tension headaches increased the closer to the North and South Poles and farther away from the equatorwith the sun being the presumed differentiator.
Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Now that weâve covered what causes low vitamin D levels, letâs talk about the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
In adults, symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may include:
- Thinning hair
- Mood changes, including depression
Among children, long-term deficiency can cause rickets, a rare disorder that leads to stunted growth, weakness in muscles, pain in bones, and deformities in the joints. Children who are deficient in vitamin D may also experience sore, weak, or painful muscles.
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What Does Sunlight Have To Do With Getting Enough Vitamin D
There are health benefits of sunlight. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to sunshine, or rather, the ultraviolet B radiation that the sun emits. The amount of vitamin D that your skin makes depends on such factors as:
- The season: This factor depends a bit on where you live. In areas such as Cleveland, OH, the UV-B light does not reach the earth for six months out of the year due to the ozone layer and the zenith of the sun.
- The time of day: The sun’s rays are most powerful between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- The amount of cloud cover and air pollution.
- Where you live: Cities near the equator have higher ultraviolet light levels. It is the UV-B light in sunlight that causes your skin to make vitamin D.
- The melanin content of your skin: Melanin is a brown-black pigment in the eyes, hair and skin. Melanin causes skin to tan. The darker your skin, the more sun exposure is needed in order to get sufficient vitamin D from the sun.
Why Are We So Vitamin D Deficient
Many people across the globe are deficient in this essential vitamin for a number of reasons. First off, its hard to get vitamin D through sources of food alone. While egg yolks and some fatty fish contain vitamin D, they dont contain enough to give us what we need over the long term.
The primary source of this essential nutrient is the sun itself. And weve all been taught to stay out of the sun, because the sun causes skin cancer, right? Like anything and everything, moderation is key including sun exposure. To prevent a vitamin D deficiency, you need to let your skin drink in the sun in moderate amounts, without sunscreen.
If you think you may be low in vitamin D, you can ask for a blood test from your doctor to confirm your levels. X-rays to check for bone loss are also available, as bone loss is a surefire sign you need more vitamin D. And you can take the proper steps to increase your vitamin D intake, which well discuss further on.
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What Exactly Is Vitamin D
Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is important for regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate we have in our bodies. These are the nutrients our body uses to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Typically, during the sunnier months, we get most of our vitamin D from spending time outdoors.
One of the ways our bodies manufacture vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight, says Dr McClymont. But recently lockdowns, home working and shielding may all have led to us spending less time in the great outdoors than wed like. And now we’re in winter, its even more important to think about vitamin D and the other sources we can get it from.
How Is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated
The goals of treatment and prevention are the sameto reach, and then maintain, an adequate level of vitamin D in the body. While you might consider eating more foods that contain vitamin D and getting a little bit of sunlight, you will likely be told to take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 and D3. D2, also called ergocalciferol, comes from plants. D3, also called cholecalciferol, comes from animals. You need a prescription to get D2. D3, however, is available over the counter. It is more easily absorbed than D2 and lasts longer in the body dose-for-dose. Work with your doctor to find out if you need to take a vitamin supplement and how much to take if it is needed.
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How Do I Treat A Vitamin D Deficiency
There are three ways to help a vitamin D deficiency:
- Try to get more sun exposure around 15-20 minutes, three times a week is enough
- Eat vitamin D-rich foods
- Take a vitamin D supplement
If youre worried about low vitamin D levels or youre experiencing symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, its best to get it checked out by a doctor.
Could A Vitamin Or Mineral Deficiency Be Behind Your Fatigue
The world moves at a hectic pace these days. If you feel like you’re constantly running on empty, you’re not alone. Many people say that they just don’t have the energy they need to accomplish all they need to. Sometimes the cause of fatigue is obvious for example, getting over the flu or falling short on sleep. Sometimes a vitamin deficiency is part of the problem. It might be worth asking your doctor to check a few vitamin levels, such as the three we’ve listed below.
For more ways to combat fatigue, buy Boosting Your Energy, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
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Relation To Vitamin D Deficiency
Some researchers believe that lack of vitamin D in the patient can be one of the causes for chronic fatigue. This vitamin is the key to strong bone health, which in turn is the key to overall health. Its deficiency can lead to many disorders like osteoporosis, arthritis, and joint pain. It is one of the vitamins that the body produces naturally with the help of sunlight.
It helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are the backbones of sound bones and teeth. If the body is not adequately exposed to sunlight, a deficiency of vitamin D occurs, and the body starts showing the effects in the form of fatigue and joint pain. Its benefits are:
- It plays a key role in the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
- It is also necessary for a good immune system.
- It reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis, which is a serious disorder.
- It also helps in maintaining desired weight.
- It helps in the prevention of asthma.
- It is also essential for a healthy brain.
Now as we can see, the fatigue symptoms include joint and muscle pain, and lack of this vitamin can also lead to joint pain, thus, there is an obvious relation between the two disorders. If a person avoids sunlight and also the food sources of vitamin D, the body is bound to be deprived of this essential vitamin, and then starts showing up the symptoms. As we had seen in the previous paragraphs, prolonged fatigue can lead to many harmful effects.