Vitamin deficiency is what happens when your body lacks certain vitamins to keep your body working at its best. Out of all of the vitamins it needs, though, vitamin D is a curious one. For starters, vitamin D is absolutely essential to your overall health. It is what allows your body to absorb calcium and ensure that your bones are healthy.
This essential vitamin keeps your bones strong from the beginning stages of your life, up until old age. Children who lack enough vitamin D are at risk of having soft bones, and adults who do not have sufficient vitamin D in their systems suffer from fragile bones, more commonly known as osteoporosis.
And, many people struggle with this problem — 42% of adults in the United States do not get enough vitamin D.
So how exactly do you determine if you are vitamin D deficient?
If you fall into one of the groups below, then you will want to call up your doctor and schedule a consultation and blood test.
People most likely to be vitamin D deficient
1. Vegans and vegetarians
One of the main sources of vitamin D aside from the sun is by eating animal products.
But, if you are a vegan or a vegetarian, this obviously poses a problem. Milk and yogurt are filled with vitamin D as well, but those are not options for vegans.
So, what can vegetarians and vegans do to ensure they are getting the vitamin D they need?
There are other sources of vitamin D out there, though they aren’t quite as potent as meat and eggs. You can find vitamin D in things such as:
- shiitake mushrooms
- almond milk
- orange juice
As a vegan or vegetarian, it is wise to keep close track of your vitamin D intake and consider taking supplements if your blood test shows you aren’t getting enough.
2. Those who suffer from depression
Though doctors aren’t sure of the true reason for the connection, studies have found that people who suffer from low levels of vitamin D are twice as likely to suffer from depression.
It is possible that this is due to the fact that serotonin, the hormone in your brain that helps with your mood, rises when people spend more time in bright light and falls when sun exposure decreases. Thus, if you’re not spending enough time in the sun and your vitamin D levels drop low, your brain is triggered to experience a corresponding drop in mood.
If you happen to live in a place that does not have the option of the sun as much as others, it’s important that you take a supplement to make up for it. Research has shown that women who suffered from depression showed an increase in their levels of happiness when their intake of vitamin D was increased.
3. People taking certain medication
The side effects of medication are no stranger to anyone who owns a television. The ads for medication that come across our screens bring along with them a whole slew of side effects. One such side effect is a decrease in your body’s ability to absorb and metabolize vitamin D.
The medications that seem to cause this vitamin deficiency the most are:
- Drugs that lower cholesterol
- Drugs for weight-loss
- Corticosteroid medications
If you’re taking any of the above medications, you likely suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
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4. Those who suffer from chronic headaches
In a 2017 study, it was found that the people who had the lowest vitamin D levels were twice as likely to have chronic headaches.
Though the connection between chronic headaches and vitamin D deficiency are not by any means clear, it is thought that this vitamin may play a major role in fighting inflammation that, left untreated, can cause migraines.
Similarly, brain fog is something you may experience from a lack of vitamin D.
When your levels of vitamin D are not high enough, according to a number of studies, brain fog sets in. It may not be extremely noticeable, but you will likely feel as if you’re still partially asleep or in some serious need of caffeine.
By upping your vitamin D intake, chances are good your brain fog will disappear and you will feel more clear-headed and able to focus.
5. Suffers from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Did you know that up to 70% of people with IBD are lacking the proper amount of vitamin D in their bodies?
This is because inflammatory bowel disease causes your body to struggle immensely with properly absorbing fat. And, since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it would make sense that if you have IBD and aren’t able to properly take in fat, then you will be deficient in this vitamin.
Remember that under the category IBD falls a number of gastrointestinal problems such as:
- Crohn’s disease
- Non-celiac gluten sensitivity
6. Those working a 9-5
Most people who work a 9-5 job in an office are not spending much time in the sun.
Because they’re stuck indoors during most daylight hours, office workers are not able to get the natural vitamin from the sun that they need, and thus are highly likely to be vitamin D deficient.
7. Those who are over 55 years old
As people age, they become less mobile. Getting outside seems more difficult, and thus less of an occurrence. However, that means that people who are more elderly are not getting the exposure to the sun they need in order to get their daily vitamin D.
In addition, skin that is aging struggles more with efficiently synthesizing this vitamin, so any vitamins that you’re getting from the sun may not be put to their best use in older adults.
Kidneys also decline in efficiency as people age, and as a result, cause older adults to struggle with converting this vitamin into its usable form.
8. People with a BMI of 30 or more
The higher your body mass index (BMI), the harder it is for vitamins to circulate throughout your body, vitamin D in particular.
If you weigh in with a BMI of 30 or more, chances are good that this vitamin is struggling to properly circulate in your body. You’ll likely need to turn to supplements to help until you’re able to lose some weight and bring your BMI down.
9. Those suffering from chronic joint and muscle pain
Feeling constant pain in your joints and muscles may be a result of not having enough vitamin D. If you’ve been diagnosed with something such as arthritis, look into your vitamin levels to see if you’re getting enough.
For those who are active and find themselves with pain after running or other exercises that last for days, that’s a red flag that you are probably deficient in this vitamin.
10. People with vein health issues
When your body does not have enough vitamin D, your blood vessels will likely suffer. Vitamin D helps to keep your arteries and blood vessels loose enough and relaxed enough to support proper blood flow. Thus, when vitamin D levels are low, your veins will struggle to do their job properly, and vein issues may arise.
As you can see, when your body is low on vitamin D, far more than your tan suffers. Vitamin D is, without a doubt, a vital nutrient that your body needs in order to properly function.
Interested in finding more ways to live a healthier lifestyle? Explore our collection of food and diet topics.
Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Yan Katsnelson is a philanthropist, business owner, and highly skilled cardiac surgeon. He is the Founder and CEO of USA Vein Clinics, which is part of USA Clinics Group, the parent company of USA Fibroid Centers, USA Vascular Centers, and USA Oncology Centers, with more than 100 facilities nationwide. Dr. Yan has established himself as a strong advocate for accessibility and affordability of the most advanced medical care close to home. His mission is to create a positive experience for each patient with compassionate, personalized, and expert care.