If you work indoors and wear sunblock regularly, you’re doing a good job of protecting yourself from skin cancer, but chances are you could have some level of vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency is common among all age groups, and it’s estimated that 1 billion people worldwide have inadequate levels (it’s recognized as a pandemic!). Additional factors such as dark skin, low HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”), low dairy consumption, and obesity also increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency.
I’m not saying that you should stop protecting yourself against skin cancer, but if you’re having vague symptoms of tiredness, aches, and pains, or frequent infections and don’t know why, it could be that you aren’t getting enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D is also important in calcium absorption, so some of the signs of not getting enough are related to insufficient calcium (e.g., relating to bone strength). The best way to find out is to see your physician and have a blood test to check your levels.
Symptoms that may indicate vitamin D deficiency:
1. Frequent bone breaks or fractures
2. Inadequate bone growth in children
3. Muscle weakness and aches
4. Frequent colds, flu, respiratory tract infections
5. General lethargy, tiredness, aches, and pains
There are also some pretty serious potential long-term consequences of vitamin D deficiency, including increased risk of common cancers, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, immune function, hypertension, muscle weakness, and infectious diseases.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children and adults, and 800 IU for elderly (over 70) and pregnant or lactating women.
If you plan to take a supplement, D3, not D2, is the form you want. Also, vitamins A, K2, and magnesium help your body use vitamin D.
Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, so if you're trying to boost your vitamin D intake with food, you need to be very specific. Sources include fatty fish like salmon, sardines, or tuna; egg yolk; liver; and cod liver oil.
Some foods such as dairy products and cereals are fortified, but you would need to eat a high quantity (meaning: eat them every day) for them to make a difference.
If you're having trouble absorbing your supplement, the Vitamin D Council recommends: