Take our quiz to see if you are showing any signs of vitamin D deficiency. If you can answer yes to one or more of the questions below, you need to take action!
Question #1: Do you live in a northern climate?
Scientists have found that those who live in the colder northern latitudes are more likely to have signs of vitamin D deficiency. This is caused by the darker northern winters when days are short and skies are overcast. The lack of natural sunlight means the body is unable to make sufficient vitamin D. Even if you have no visible symptoms of a lack of vitamin D, it’s a good idea to boost vitamin D intake in other ways, such as through daily supplements and a diet high in oily fish, maitake mushrooms, cheese and eggs.
Question #2: Do you suffer from sadness and depression?
If you have bouts of feeling "blue" or depressed for no rational reason, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a medically recognized condition caused by lack of bright light and sunshine. It may be due to living in a less sunny climate or having an indoor lifestyle with artificial lighting. Recognize the dangers by getting outdoors on a bright day and topping up with foods high in vitamin D as in Q1.
Question #3: Do you have darker skin?
African Americans and those with a naturally darker skin have an increased risk of developing the signs of vitamin D deficiency. This is because the pigment in your skin acts as a natural sunscreen, protecting you from harmful UV rays, but also blocking out the sun's exposure which allows the body to make vitamin D. According to Dr. Michael Holick, a leading researcher into vitamin D research, those with darker skin may need up to 10 times more exposure to the sun to generate sufficient vitamin D.
Question #4: Do you have digestive upsets?
If you suffer from gastric problems including Crohn’s, celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity or inflammatory bowel disease, fat-soluble vitamin D in your diet may not be properly digested and absorbed. This means that getting outdoors whenever possible and taking a daily vitamin D supplement is even more important to avoid the signs of vitamin D deficiency.
Question #5: Do you have aching bones?
Dr. Holick states that many people who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome are actually suffering from typical signs of vitamin D deficiency. This important vitamin is essential for strong bones and teeth. A lack of vitamin D can cause osteoporosis in later life; and also reduces the calcium in the collagen of the bone structure, causing throbbing aching bones. Try vitamin D supplements first and see if that solves the problem. The Vitamin D Council recommends that adults lacking sunlight take 2,000 IU daily.
As you can see, vitamin D is essential for optimal health, preventing everything from rickets and osteoporosis to cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. Taking a daily supplement is the only way to ensure that you consistently have enough, and boosting levels with careful exposure to sunlight and eating vitamin D rich foods will help to support a healthier you.