If you struggle to stay alert and focused during your workday, then you’re not alone. Around 75% of Americans are tired and fatigued on the job. Much of the blame is likely placed on an under-reported epidemic: Americans don’t get enough vitamin D.
About half of America suffers from a vitamin D deficiency. The most common symptom of the lack of vitamin D is tiredness and fatigue. This can make it difficult to go about your day even when you’re getting enough sleep.
Vitamin D deficiency and fatigue will sap the energy from your life. Don’t let it. We’ll cover how easy it is to diagnose and treat a vitamin D deficiency.
1. What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a key nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium, phosphate, and magnesium. While some foods contain vitamin D, the most common source comes from sunlight. When the skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation via sunlight, it turns cholesterol into vitamin D.
Since it aids in calcium absorption, it’s an important component to maintaining healthy bones. Older individuals are more vulnerable to bone injuries and especially should work to improve their vitamin D intake.
Vitamin D has also been linked to better cardiovascular, and muscular health. This nutrient also boosts the effectiveness of the body’s immune system.
Although not confirmed, some research suggests that it can help prevent diabetes and certain kinds of cancers. No matter the case, there’s no denying that vitamin D is an important nutrient that provides a slew of health benefits.
2. Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
Since vitamin D is an important contributor to many areas of our physical health, several symptoms arise when the body doesn’t have enough.
Do you frequently become sick? Your immune system may have a critical lack of vitamin D. This means that the body will have a harder time fighting off bacteria and viruses.
When cuts, scratches, and other wounds are slow to heal, it may be caused by a vitamin D deficiency. It helps reduce inflammation throughout the body, which eases the healing process. But vitamin D is also an important component in creating new skin to repair the injury.
Since it’s such an important contributor to bone health, it’s no surprise that a vitamin D deficiency is associated with lower back pain. A weakened spine is more vulnerable to daily wear and tear.
Are you experiencing chronic fatigue? Low levels of vitamin D are strongly correlated with chronic fatigue. In one study, over 75% of fatigued patients reported an improvement in energy levels once they received vitamin D supplements.
3. What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency?
For younger individuals, the best source of vitamin D comes from the body’s own production. But when exposure to sunlight is limited, the skin can’t produce the vitamin D it needs. If you’re indoor often or live in areas that are cloudy or far from the equator, you might not be getting enough sun.
Along with this geographic concern, there are other factors that can cause a vitamin D deficiency. The skin of older individuals has a weakened ability to produce vitamin D, which means they need more sunlight or should opt for a diet high in vitamin D.
Even if you do frequent the outdoors, sunscreen can block the ultraviolet light your skin needs. People with darker skin are also more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency because a pigment known as melanin inhibits the process.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble. In obese individuals, it’s more difficult for the body to pull enough vitamin D from fat reserves.
Lastly, people with an inhibited digestive system will fail to adequately take in vitamin D found in digested foods. This may be a symptom of cystic fibrosis or Crohn’s disease.
4. Treating Vitamin D Deficiency and Fatigue
There are a variety of methods to increase your body’s production and intake of vitamin D. The easiest method is to spend more time outdoors. You need less sun exposure than you might think.
As little as 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure a day should provide the body with the vitamin D it needs. Keep in mind that clouds and heavy clothing may require you to spend more time outdoors.
If you can’t get daily sunlight, you can offset this by spending more time outside on better days. Aim for 30 minutes of sun exposure three times a week.
But what if you live somewhere with limited sun, or you’re still struggling even with plentiful sun exposure? That is where your diet can help.
Foods rich in vitamin D include fish, such as swordfish, salmon, and tuna. It also includes many dairy products, like milk, yogurt, and cheese. When these aren’t enough, fortified foods such as juice and cereal may be able to help.
But the truth is that most foods don’t contain enough vitamin D to adequately supplement your body’s needs. When sunlight alone is not enough, most doctors suggest a vitamin supplement to provide the nutrients your body needs.
Before you spring for the first vitamin you find, you should spend time choosing a multivitamin that is right for you. Different individuals will have varied nutritional needs, based on factors such as health and age.
Put the Spring Back in Your Step
Treating vitamin D deficiency and fatigue can dramatically improve your well-being. By opening the blinds and taking a multivitamin supplement every morning, you can shake off the sluggishness that inhibits your life.
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