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5 Unusual Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

5 Unusual Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

 
Isolation has most of us indoors more than we're used to, so it's imperative that we're mindful about getting
adequate sunlight, or finding alternative ways to get vitamin D.

You need vitamin D for healthy bones – and you might also know that low levels of this essential nutrient can make you feel fatigued, lethargic, and even depressed. You also need vitamin D to maintain a healthy immune system- which what we all need right now!

There are some other more unusual and lesser-known signs that your vitamin D levels might be low. We'll talk about 5 of them here, and then give you some practice tips to help you replenish them! 

 

1. Insomnia, early waking, or restless sleep

Healthy levels of vitamin D have been linked to better quality sleep [1],  and any drop in these levels can have serious effects on your snoozing.

The part of the brain stem that is thought to control our sleep patterns contains a multitude of vitamin D receptors – without enough vitamin D, sleep quality can suffer. Research has shown that the lower the levels of vitamin D are  in the blood, the more likely you are to be woken up during the night, or to wake early in the morning [2] [3].  So boost your vitamin D for more restorative rest!

2. Can't stay focussed? Blame low vitamin D

Vitamin D protects the brain against inflammation, oxidative damage, and the formation of plaque – and also allows nerve signals to pass between neurons, and even promotes the growth of new nerve tissues. Recent research has found that vitamin D is needed for the activation of many enzymes in the brain and the cerebrospinal fluid, many of which are linked to focus and learning.

Two European studies found that people who had a vitamin D deficiency performed terribly on a series of mental tests. Most notably, it took those with low vitamin D levels much longer to process information and maintain focus on learning than those with higher levels [5]. 

The upshot? Your brain might feel strained if you don't have  enough vitamin D in your system.

3. Frequent infections and slow healing

The immune system requires an abundance of vitamin D for most of its functions, from fighting off infections to healing cuts and scrapes. Immune cells love this nutrient, and are packed full of vitamin D receptors – without it, immune cells wouldn't be able to tell friend from foe, or mount attacks on pathogens.

If you have low levels of vitamin D, you might experience:

  • More colds and flus. Get sick every time you're around someone with the sniffles? Your immune system might benefit from a vitamin D boost.
  • Slow recovery. Low vitamin D has been linked with colds turning into respiratory infections, and coughs that are hard to shake. [4]

 

Vitamin D keeps us healthy and happy

4. Low vitamin D levels can hurt

People with lower levels of vitamin D tend to experience heightened levels of pain and use more pain killers [6]. Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body, and can stop the creation of a pain-inducing chemical called prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). In chronic pain conditions, there is often a high level of PGE2 in circulation, and leading to – you guessed it – pain. Reseachers found that boosting  vitamin D levels helped to reduce the severity of chronic pain, and assisted people to get off pain killers [6]. 

 

5. Red eyes, blurred vision, or sticky eyelids

Vitamin D reduces inflammation in the eyes, and having low levels of this essential nutrient has been linked with a condition called keratoconjunctivitis sicca – commonly known as “dry eye syndrome”. 

Despite its name, dry eye doesn't always feel dry. It can present as redness, a feeling of “grittiness” or itching in the eyes, tiredness, sticky eyelids, or blurred vision. One study showed that boosting vitamin D levels was an effective treatment for some people – it strengthens the membranes of the eyes, helps to keep the cornea and the eyelids moist, and relaxes the muscles and lenses to prevent redness [7]. 

 

Quick Tips:

  • Just 10 – 20 minutes of sun three times a week is enough for most people to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D.
  • Pop mushrooms in the sun for 20 minutes before you cook them – they naturally convert UV rays into active vitamin D! Magic.
  • Vitamin D becomes active in the body through a series of reactions that happen in the kidneys and liver. Taking care of those organs can help to support vitamin D levels.
  • Magnesium and B vitamins are used in these reactions, too – so get lots of those by eating whole grains and green leafs vegetables.
  • If you suspect you;re low on vitamin D, ask your doctor for a blood test to confirm your levels before you start taking a supplement. Taking too much supplemental vitamin D can be toxic.

 

Take your Ajnamat session into the sunshine, and get your vitamin D hit at the same time! 

 

 

References:

[1] Jung YS, Chae CH, Kim YO, et al. The relationship between serum vitamin D levels and sleep quality in fixed day indoor field workers in the electronics manufacturing industry in Korea. Ann Occup Environ Med. 2017;29:25. Published 2017 Jun 24. doi:10.1186/s40557-017-0187-7 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5482959/ 

 

[2] Bertisch SM, Sillau S, de Boer IH, Szklo M, Redline S. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentration and Sleep Duration and Continuity: Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Sleep. 2015;38(8):1305–1311. Published 2015 Aug 1. doi:10.5665/sleep.4914 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4507736/ 

 

[3] Han B, Zhu FX, Shi C, Wu HL, Gu XH. Association between Serum Vitamin D Levels and Sleep Disturbance in Hemodialysis Patients. Nutrients. 2017;9(2):139. Published 2017 Feb 14. doi:10.3390/nu9020139  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5331570/

 [4] Prietl B, Treiber G, Pieber TR, Amrein K. Vitamin D and immune function. Nutrients. 2013;5(7):2502–2521. Published 2013 Jul 5. doi:10.3390/nu5072502 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3738984/ 

[5] Balion C, Griffith LE, Strifler L, et al. Vitamin D, cognition, and dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurology. 2012;79(13):1397–1405. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e31826c197f  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448747/ 

 

[6] Wu, Z., et al. (2016) Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Pain Physician, 19:7, 415 – 427. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27676659/ 

 

[7] Bae SH, Shin YJ, Kim HK, Hyon JY, Wee WR, Park SG. Vitamin D Supplementation for Patients with Dry Eye Syndrome Refractory to Conventional Treatment. Sci Rep. 2016;6:33083. Published 2016 Oct 4. doi:10.1038/srep33083

 

 



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