8 Ways to Tell if You Are Vitamin D Deficient

8 Ways to Tell if You Are Vitamin D Deficient

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Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin that has powerful effects on several systems throughout the body (1).

Unlike most vitamins, vitamin D actually functions like a hormone and every single cell in your body has a receptor for it. Your body makes it from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight.

It’s also found in certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, although it’s very difficult to get enough from diet alone. The recommended daily intake is usually around 400-800 IU, but many experts say you should get even more than that.

Vitamin D deficiency is very common. It’s estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of the vitamin in their blood (2).

According to a 2011 study, 41.6 percent of adults in the U.S. are deficient. This number goes up to 69.2 percent in Hispanics and 82.1 percent in African-Americans (3).

These are common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency:

  • Having dark skin.
  • Being elderly.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Not eating much fish or milk.
  • Living far from the equator where there is little sun year-round.
  • Always using sunscreen when going out.
  • Staying indoors.

People who live near the equator and get frequent sun exposure are less likely to be deficient, because their skin produces enough vitamin D to satisfy the body’s needs.

Most people don’t realize that they are deficient, because the symptoms are generally subtle. You may not notice them easily, even if they are having a significant negative effect on your quality of life.

Here are eight signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.

1. Getting Sick or Infected Often

One of vitamin D’s most important roles is keeping your immune system strong so you’re able to fight off the viruses and bacteria that cause illness.

It directly interacts with the cells that are responsible for fighting infection (4).

If you become sick often, especially with colds or the flu, low vitamin D levels may be a contributing factor.

Several large observational studies have shown a link between a deficiency and respiratory tract infections like colds, bronchitis and pneumonia (5, 6).

A number of studies have found that taking vitamin D supplements at dosages of up to 4,000 IU daily may reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections (7, 8, 9).

In one study of people with the chronic lung disorder COPD, only those who were severely deficient in vitamin D experienced a significant benefit after taking a high-dose supplement for one year (10).

Bottom Line: Vitamin D plays important roles in immune function. One of the most common symptoms of deficiency is an increased risk of illness or infections.

2. Fatigue and Tiredness

Feeling tired can have many causes and vitamin D deficiency may be one of them.

Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked as a potential cause.

Case studies have shown that very low blood levels can cause fatigue that has a severe negative effect on quality of life (11, 12).

In one case, a woman who complained of chronic daytime fatigue and headaches was found to have a blood level of only 5.9 ng/ml. This is extremely low, as anything under 20 ng/ml is considered to be deficient.

When the woman took a vitamin D supplement, her level increased to 39 ng/ml and her symptoms resolved (12).

However, even blood levels that aren’t extremely low may have a negative impact on energy levels.

A large observational study looked at the relationship between vitamin D and fatigue in young women.

The study found that women with blood levels under 20 ng/ml or 21–29 ng/ml were more likely to complain of fatigue than those with blood levels over 30 ng/ml (13).

Another observational study of female nurses found a strong connection between low vitamin D levels and self-reported fatigue.

What’s more, the researchers found that 89 percent of the nurses were deficient (14).

Bottom Line: Excessive fatigue and tiredness may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Taking supplements may help improve energy levels.

3. Bone and Back Pain

Vitamin D is involved in maintaining bone health through a number of mechanisms.

For one, it improves your body’s absorption of calcium.

Bone pain and lower back pain may be signs of inadequate vitamin D levels in the blood.

Large observational studies have found a relationship between a deficiency and chronic lower back pain (15, 16, 17).

One study examined the association between vitamin D levels and back pain in more than 9,000 older women.

The researchers found that those with a deficiency were more likely to have back pain, including severe back pain that limited their daily activities (17).

In one controlled study, people with vitamin D deficiency were nearly twice as likely to experience bone pain in their legs, ribs or joints compared to those with blood levels in the normal range (18).

Bottom Line: Low blood levels of the vitamin may be a cause or contributing factor to bone pain and lower back pain.

4. Depression

A depressed mood may also be a sign of deficiency.

In review studies, researchers have linked vitamin D deficiency to depression, particularly in older adults (19, 20).

In one analysis, 65 percent of the observational studies found a relationship between low blood levels and depression.

On the other hand, most of the controlled trials, which carry more scientific weight than observational studies, didn’t show a link between the two (19).

However, the researchers who analyzed the studies noted that the dosages of vitamin D in controlled studies were often very low.

In addition, they noted that some of the studies may not have lasted long enough to see the effect of taking supplements on mood.

Some controlled studies have shown that giving vitamin D to people who are deficient helps improve depression, including seasonal depression that occurs during the colder months (21, 22).

Bottom Line: Depression is associated with low vitamin D levels and some studies have found that supplementing improves mood.

5. Impaired Wound Healing

Slow healing of wounds after surgery or injury may be a sign that vitamin D levels are too low.

Results from a test-tube study suggest that the vitamin increases production of compounds that are crucial for forming new skin as part of the wound-healing process (23).

One study on patients who had dental surgery found that certain aspects of healing were compromised by vitamin D deficiency (24).

It’s also been suggested that vitamin D’s role in controlling inflammation and fighting infection is important for proper healing.

One analysis looked at patients with diabetic foot infections.

It found that those with severe vitamin D deficiency were more likely to have higher levels of inflammatory markers that can jeopardize healing (25).

Unfortunately, at this point there is very little research about the effects of vitamin D supplements on wound healing in people with deficiency.

However, one study found that when vitamin D deficient patients with leg ulcers were treated with the vitamin, ulcer size reduced by 28 percent, on average (26).

Bottom Line: Inadequate vitamin D levels may lead to poor wound healing following surgery, injury or infection.

6. Bone Loss

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption and bone metabolism.

Many older women who are diagnosed with bone loss believe they need to take more calcium. However, they may be deficient in vitamin D as well.

Low bone mineral density is an indication that calcium and other minerals have been lost from bone. This places older people, especially women, at an increased risk of fractures.

In a large observational study of more than 1,100 middle-aged women in menopause or postmenopause, researchers found a strong link between low vitamin D levels and low bone mineral density (27).

However, a controlled study found that women who were vitamin D deficient experienced no improvement in bone mineral density when they took high-dose supplements, even if their blood levels improved (28).

Regardless of these findings, adequate vitamin D intake and maintaining blood levels within the optimal range may be a good strategy for protecting bone mass and reducing fracture risk.

Bottom Line: A diagnosis of low bone mineral density may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Getting enough of this vitamin is important for preserving bone mass as you get older.

7. Hair Loss

Hair loss is often attributed to stress, which is certainly a common cause.

However, when hair loss is severe, it may be the result of a disease or nutrient deficiency.

Hair loss in women has been linked to low vitamin D levels, although there is very little research on this so far (29).

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease characterized by severe hair loss from the head and other parts of the body. It’s associated with rickets, which is a disease that causes soft bones in children due to vitamin D deficiency (30).

Low vitamin D levels are linked to alopecia areata and may be a risk factor for developing the disease (31, 32, 33).

One study in people with alopecia areata showed that lower blood levels tended to be associated with a more severe hair loss (33).

In a case study, topical application of a synthetic form of the vitamin was found to successfully treat hair loss in a young boy with a defect in the vitamin D receptor (34).

Bottom Line: Hair loss may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency in female-pattern hair loss or the autoimmune condition alopecia areata.

8. Muscle Pain

The causes of muscle pain are often difficult to pinpoint.

There is some evidence that vitamin D deficiency may be a potential cause of muscle pain in children and adults (35, 36, 37).

In one study, 71 percent of people with chronic pain were found to be deficient (37).

The vitamin D receptor is present in nerve cells called nociceptors, which sense pain.

One study in rats showed that a deficiency led to pain and sensitivity due to stimulation of nociceptors in muscles (38).

A few studies have found that taking high-dose vitamin D supplements may reduce various types of pain in people who are deficient (39, 40).

One study in 120 children with vitamin D deficiency who had growing pains found that a single dose of the vitamin reduced pain scores by an average of 57 percent (40).

Bottom Line: There is a link between chronic pain and low blood levels of the vitamin, which may be due to the interaction between the vitamin and pain-sensing nerve cells.

Correcting a Vitamin D Deficiency is Simple

Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common and most people are unaware of it.

That’s because the symptoms are often subtle and non-specific, meaning that it’s hard to know if they’re caused by low vitamin D levels or something else.

If you think you may have a deficiency, then it’s important that you speak to your doctor and get your blood levels measured.

Fortunately, a vitamin D deficiency is usually easy to fix. You can either increase your sun exposure, eat more vitamin D rich foods or simply take a supplement.

Fixing your deficiency is simple, easy and can have big benefits for your health.

via EcoWatch

Improve Your Health By Doing This For 30 Minutes

Improve Your Health By Doing This For 30 Minutes

A walk in the park is all the nature you need

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I always say – and I’ve written it many times – that gardening is a great antidepressant. As beautiful as nature is to look at, there is something deeply healing about engaging with it.

But if you’re not into getting dirt under your fingernails or dealing with spiders, you can still reap the benefits Mother Nature has to offer. There are so many studies that point to this, I hardly know where to begin.

For starters, a study published in 2013 showed that outdoor recreation was associated with higher mental well-being among military veterans.

Another study published in July of 2015 revealed that people who took a walk in nature spent less time ruminating over negative self-talk compared with people who walked along a busy California street.

Most recently, researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ) and the Australian Research Council for Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (ARC CEED) found that simply wandering around a park for a half-hour can improve physical and mental health. The findings are significant, as this is the first study to recommend a minimum amount of time people should be spending outdoors.

Richard Fuller, an associate professor at UQ, said in a press release:

“We’ve known for a long time that visiting parks is good for our health, but we are now beginning to establish exactly how much time we need to spend in parks to gain these benefits. We have specific evidence that we need regular visits of at least half an hour to ensure we get these benefits.”

For the study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, researchers analyzed data from 1,538 residents of Brisbane City, Australia, comparing the amount of time they spent in nature with four health outcomes.

The team found that, overall, a longer duration spent in nature resulted in increased physical activity, and lower prevalence of high blood pressure and depression with an average of 30 minutes spent outside.

Based on their analysis, the researchers estimated that spending a minimum of 30 minutes outside could cut the number of depression cases by 7% and the number of high blood pressure cases by 9%.

Some 40% of Brisbane residents don’t visit a park or other outdoor space on a weekly basis, but the researchers don’t think it will be that hard to get people to do so.

Researcher Danielle Shanahan said:

“So how can we encourage people to spend more time in green space?

We need more support and encouragement of community activities in natural spaces. For example, the Nature Play programs in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia provide heaps of ideas for helping kids enjoy the great outdoors.” [1]

She added:

“If everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven per cent fewer cases of depression and nine per cent fewer cases of high blood pressure.

Given that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at 12.6 billion dollars a year, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense.” [2]

Just being near a “green space” has been shown to be beneficial to mental and physical health.

People who live in urban areas are more prone to stress, depression, and other forms of mental illness. In fact, people who live in cities have a 20% higher risk of anxiety disorders, and a 40% higher risk of mood disorders than people who live in rural areas.

Parks are the most obvious way for urbanites to get out and enjoy nature, but urban gardening has exploded in popularity as more city dwellers have opted to use what little space they have to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

It’s good to know that even if you don’t have the time to devote to an urban garden, or a yard to sunbathe in, just strolling through a park once a week can boost your health in powerful ways.

Sources:

[1] UPI

[2] Business Standard

This article was written by Judie Fidler and first appeared on Natural Society 

Does Alexandria’s Genesis exist?

Does Alexandria’s Genesis exist?

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Characteristics of Alexandria’s Genesis

For a while now there has been a picture circulating on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and other internet sites regarding a genetic mutation called Alexandria’s Genesis. Supposedly the characteristics of this mutations consist mainly of pro’s without the con’s (unless you think the whole purple eye thing is a con): you get purple eyes, people with this condition only have hair on their heads, long lifespan, high metabolism, and women with this condition do not menstruate. For about three seconds after reading this I thought: “now that’s cool, why wasn’t I born with this condition?” Before realising, that it’s just too good to be true.

The supposed origin of the myth dates back 1000 years

Supporters of this myth claim that Alexandria’s Genesis can be dated back to over a thousand years. The legend started in Egypt when a mysterious light flashed in the sky, and everyone who was outside at the moment it happened, developed pale skin and purple eyes. Eventually these people were said to have moved north, were they eventually disappeared.

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Alexandria’s Genesis is a fabrication of author Cameron Aubernon

Around the year 2000 author Cameron Aubernon was writing a Daria fan fiction and thought it would be fun for some of her characters to have a genetic mutation she called Alexandria’s Genesis. The characteristics of this mutation we have already listed above (purple eyes, no body hair, no menstruation yet still fertile, long lifespan, high metabolism), and as soon as Aubernon posted it online, they internet took over and it spread like wildfire. Since then Aubernon has explained and dispelled the myth on her blog.

Could Alexandria’s Genesis technically exist?

There is not enough scientific evidence to support the myth. Purple eyes would be technically possible through severe lack of eye pigmentation (e.g. albinism), but any eyes that would have this mutation would be extremely sensitive to sunlight, not what the original myth perpetrates. A lack of body hair could also be possible, but not as selective as with Alexandria’s Genesis. Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome can result in a lack of body hair, but it only happens to women, and since women affected with this syndrome have no uteri, they are infertile. Another aspect of Alexandria’s Genesis debunked. The two other aspects of Alexandria’s Genesis – long lifespan and high metabolism – are also highly unlikely as anyone with such a high metabolism would have an extremely high body temperature that would not be medically possible, and a long lifespan that would result in people becoming on average 150 years old is also highly unlikely.

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All in all, though it’s a fun thing to imagine, people with Alexandria’s Genesis do not – at this time – exist. Yet who knows what the future will bring, mutations occur all the time. We are after all mutated from single-celled organisms to being the dominant form of reproductive life on this planet.

Source: sciencedump.com