Are shorter days contributing to this health issue?
Winter is approaching, and the days are getting shorter – which means your exposure to the sun is, too.
But while it’s easy to associate a vitamin D deficiency with a lack of sun exposure, the sun does not always guarantee you the vitamin D you need. You should also be wary of too much unprotected exposure. Although it’s true that individuals who lack regular sun exposure are more prone to vitamin D deficiencies than those who spend more time in the sun, lack of sunlight is not the only reason a person can become deficient in this crucial vitamin.
According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin D deficiencies occur when an individual’s intake of vitamin D is lower than the suggested amount, exposure to sunlight is limited or when absorption of vitamin D from the digestive track is inadequate.
“Some people also process the sunlight differently, and vitamin D is not made at all, which is another reason people can be deficient in vitamin D,” says Dr. Sharon Moy, a family medicine physician with Advocate Eureka Hospital’s El Paso Family Practice in El Paso, Ill.
Symptoms that can signal a vitamin D deficiency include a weakened immune system, depression or low moods, fatigue, bone and back pain, muscle pain and hair loss. Luckily, there are alternatives other than the big ball of light in the sky that can help correct a vitamin D deficiency and improve your symptoms and overall health.
The NIH and Dr. Moy suggest that individuals who are deficient in vitamin D eat foods that are rich in vitamin D, such as:
It is important to know if you are deficient in vitamin D, because vitamin D helps with the immune system, mood regulation, blood pressure and can even aid in fending off diabetes and certain cancers.
“Consider a follow-up with your doctor for a simple blood test to check how deficient your vitamin D levels are, since medications may be required,” says Dr. Moy.
About the Author
Danielle Sisco, health enews contributor, is a recent graduate of Illinois State University and a former public affairs and marketing intern at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and Advocate BroMenn Medical Center. She has a Bachelor's of Science Degree in public relations and is currently working at a public relations agency in Chicago. In her free time, Danielle enjoys going to country music concerts, playing volleyball, traveling, blogging and spending quality time with her family, friends and puppy.