What symptoms or conditions suggest a Vitamin D deficiency?

Are there symptoms for vitamin D deficiency?

The last decade has seen a renaissance in our understanding of the many roles of Vitamin D in our well-being, with hundreds of vitamind-image3studies defining ever more precisely its role in health and disease. Vitamin D could as accurately be called a hormone as much as a vitamin. It influences the calcium metabolism in most every cell of the body, not just in bone. It also affects the immune system; helping us to fight infections, to find and clear precancerous cells and to moder
ate inappropriate autoimmune processes. How can one nutrient have such an effect in so many areas? It turns out that Vitamin D plays an important role in genetic expression, and that hundreds if not thousands of our genes are modulated by Vitamin D. Stated simply, if your genes are bathed in the right amount of Vitamin D, they respond more efficiently. If not, their maladaptive expression can provoke or allow a wide range of chronic health problems.

So, as low Vitamin D levels can affect every organ system, wouldn’t it be useful for a person to know if their body is telling them about a low Vitamin D level? To interpret what your body may be saying, I’d like to review some of the symptoms and conditions that can be associated with Vitamin D deficiency. A symptom is a physical complaint that is a noticeable deviation from normal, such as fatigue, or muscle aches. A condition is more of a definable quality or diagnosis, such as depression, asthma, osteoporosis or a lab result such as an elevated parathyroid hormone level. We should keep in mind that while a low Vitamin D level may be a major contributing factor to a problem, many times it is only part of a larger picture. After reviewing the clues that may lead us to suspect a low level, we will discuss what it takes to measure Vitamin D, and then some basic advice about interpreting and treating low levels. We have included click through links to some of the basic research related to many of the conditions we discuss below.

vitamind-image2Symptoms suggesting low Vitamin D levels include:

  • muscle weakness, feeling too easily fatigued.
  • excess daytime sleepiness
  • general aches and pains, particularly bone ache. A simple test for test for periosteal bone pain is to see if you have discomfort from placing firm pressure on your breastbone or shin bone.
  • a sweaty head. Strange as it may seem, excess sweating in the head vs. the rest of the body has been associated with low Vitamin D levels.
  • keep in mind that now that we are screening for Vitamin D, many people with low levels have no recognizable symptoms at all at the time of diagnosis. The goal is to get ahead of the problems that can emerge over months or years of having deficient levels.

There are many common conditions associated with low Vitamin D, where its deficiency may be a causal factor, or a part of disease progression. If you have one or more of these conditions, you should have your Vitamin D level evaluated and discussed with your personal physician. These could include:

Getting your Vitamin D level checked

Most physicians can readily obtain this blood test through local labs and hospitals. A typical retail cost through a clinic is $45-50, and it may be covered by insurance if medically indicated. It would be advisable to review this result with your personal physician, and to correlate it with any concerning symptoms or conditions you may have.
If you want to get this done on your own, you will pay $50-75, and they usually have you send in a blot of blood obtained with a finger pinprick. Some options include:

  • the Grassroots Health D*Action Study. This ongoing study is designed to both give you specific feedback on your Vitamin D levels and optimal dosing advice based on those results, for $70. They do ask you to fill out a questionnaire about whole Vit D Level Orderyour health to assist in determining the relationship of initial and treated Vitamin D levels on long term health. If you want to continue monitoring and participation, they recommend a recheck every 6 months. This is optional, but advisable, as you will need more than one data point to know you have achieved a new and optimal steady state level.
  • Doctor’s Option $57 for a home test kit and a three day turnaround for results, but no specific advice based on the results.

However you choose to do it, find out your Vitamin D status. I believe it won’t be long before this will be considered as important a ‘vital sign’ as your blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol level is today.

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