You most likely have vitamin D deficiency and don’t know it.
Unless you live in a warm, sunny place year-round or supplement daily, there’s a great chance you’re not getting enough of the “sunshine vitamin.”
But first: What exactly is Vitamin D and why is it so important?
Vitamin D, despite its name, is actually a hormone, which is responsible for the body’s proper absorption of other essential nutrients, including calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphate. As it promotes the body’s optimal functioning, vitamin D prevents and fights off infections and viruses, cardiovascular diseases, chronic inflammation, and even metabolic disorders. A devoid in D increases your chances of acquiring such adverse health conditions, as well as mental health illnesses like depression.
Vitamin D is primarily obtained through sunlight exposure, which is why deficiency is so common. Although it is crucial to protect yourself from overexposure to sunlight, it is still essential to have at least minimal exposure to sunlight without sunscreen, as sunscreen inhibits the skin’s vitamin D absorption.
Now, some of you may be wondering about your D-fortified milk or vitamin-D consumption from food sources, including salmon. Although both of these sources supply the body with some source of vitamin D, it’s simply not enough (and if you’re vegan, these food sources are not even feasible options, anyway). Either way, sunlight exposure is the superior source of this vitamin-hormone.
If you are unable to expose yourself to sunlight on a daily basis (read more about how much your body exactly needs here), then a holistic supplement is your best bet. There are plenty of supplements which tailor to allergen-free and vegan diets, too.
Here are five signs you’re deficient in vitamin D:
1. You have little exposure to sunlight. I’m emphasizing this point, because it is surely the most important. Whether you’re outside in the sun and wearing sunblock or covered in layers of clothing, live in the Northern Hemisphere, or spend most of your time indoors, your skin is simply not getting enough D-contact.
2. You have dark skin. The darker your skin, the higher concentration of melanin, a pigment which in fact, reduces the skin’s ability to absorb vitamin D via sunlight exposure.
3. You feel depressed. Vitamin D boosts serotonin, the “happy hormone” production in the brain. When you’re deficient in vitamin D, you are, in turn, less likely to produce serotonin.
4. You have a gastrointestinal health condition. Gut conditions like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, inhibit the body from fully absorbing fat. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is much more difficult for those living with such conditions to obtain adequate amounts of the vitamin.
5. You’re obese. Studies have proven that those with a BMI exceeding 30 have lower levels of vitamin D.
You can find out if and how much you are (officially) deficient in vitamin D by taking a blood test.