Vitamin D deficiency symptoms: The hidden sign you could be lacking the ‘sunshine vitamin’

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms may occur if a person’s isn’t getting all of the vitamin D they need from sunlight. The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors. From around late March and early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight. But between October and early March, with a change in weather and shorter daylight hours, some people may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.

According to research, one symptom of vitamin D deficiency to note is problems with breathing

Vitamin D is important because it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are vital nutrients for keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and osteomalacia in adults, which is why recognising symptoms of vitamin D deficiency is very important.

According to research, one symptom to note is problems with breathing.

A study carried out by The University of Western Australia, the Busselton Health Study and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital found vitamin D deficiency can contribute to poor respiratory functioning and health in middle-aged adults.

Alongside playing an important tour in maintaining healthy bones, the study suggested vitamin D may also play an important role in respiratory health through its effects on lung development and structure, respiratory muscle strength, inflammation and immune response to respiratory pathogens.

The researchers measured serum vitamin D levels, lung function and respiratory symptoms in more than 5,000 baby boomers at the Busselton healthy Ageing Study and found low levels of vitamin D were associated with respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis, and respiratory symptoms common to these conditions including wheezing and chest tightness.

They also found low lung function was significantly related to low vitamin D levels.

High levels of vitamin D were associated with better lung function suggesting it plays an important role in maintaining good respiratory health.

The effect of vitamin D on respiratory health remained the same even when factoring in other aspects that contribute to vitamin D levels such as seasonal fluctuation, obesity and other chronic diseases.

Vitamin D foods

Small amounts of vitamin D are found in some foods. During the winter months you may want to consider eating more of these:

  • Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified foods – such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals

Vitamin D supplements

Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.

Experts during the autumn and winter months to get vitamin D from your diet.

But since it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms should be considered.

But the NHS warns: “Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia). This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.

“If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people.

“Don’t take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful.”

Who’s at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

Some people may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure.

The Department of Health recommends you take a daily supplement if you:

  • Aren’t often outdoors – for example, if you’re frail or housebound
  • Are in an institution like a care home
  • Usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors

People with dark skin, for example people with an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background, may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Another symptom of vitamin D deficiency may link to a person’s sleep pattern. 

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