Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, has many characteristics of a hormone. There are Vitamin D receptors on virtually every cell in the body.
Most of us are aware that Vitamin D is important for bone density and immune health. However, there are so many other important functions in the body that are often overlooked. Even active individuals who are outside every day can experience symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency, and it is actually very common for individuals to be low in this nutrient – sometimes even while supplementing with Vitamin D!
Key Symptoms of inadequate levels of Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is needed to create energy in the mitochondria of cells. When Vitamin D levels are low, you may experience fatigue and lethargy. Vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to sleep issues, which only further worsens the fatigue.
2. Bone Pain
Vitamin D well known for it’s role in promoting bone health. It improves the body’s absorption of calcium, and with the help of Vitamin K2, directs that calcium into your bones to maintain bone density. Bone pain, osteoporosis, and stress fractures may be indicative of low Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D helps to regulate many neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones all impact our mood, and sense of well-being. Studies have linked low levels of vitamin D with depression.
4. Susceptibility to Colds, Flus and Illness
The immune system requires a healthy amount of Vitamin D to fight off infections and prevent disease. Suboptimal levels of Vitamin D can make you more susceptible to infections, and may delay your ability to recover from the common cold or flu.
5. Hormonal Imbalance
Inadequate levels of Vitamin D can interfere with proper hormone production. Studies have also shown an inverse relationship between Vitamin D and anti-Müllerian hormone, a hormone that is used to assess fertility in women.
6. Inability to Lose Weight:
Vitamin D deficiency can interfere with the function of the leptin, the hormone that signals to your brain when you are full. In addition, Vitamin D is crucial in activating proper insulin-glucose regulation. Without proper activation of these hormones, it is much harder to stop eating and to resist cravings. Studies have found a strong correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and obesity.
Vitamin D Testing
“”Normal Lab Values” for Vitamin D currently range from 30-100 ng/ml. However, recent research has shown a much narrower ideal range. It is recommended you check with a Doctor trained in Naturopathic or Functional Medicine to assess your levels. Your doctor can determine if supplementation may be necessary for you.
Dr. Allison Wills Serrano is a Naturopathic Doctor in Monterey, California.