Being a Southern native living in Central New York has tested me in many more ways than one, but one of the biggest hurdles I have had to overcome is battling intense “seasonal depression” (aka vitamin D deficiency). It can happen anywhere (yes, even in sunny Florida) but it is especially intense here in the great white north, where the winters last FOREVER. I have to stay on top of my vitamin D game, or I am a hot mess who has no business being in the company of anyone, much less taking care of small children.
Sometimes it sneaks up on me, and takes me down to the depths of despair and sadness for a couple of days, rendering me an aching, pudgy, rabid raccoon crying in a corner surrounded by snacks before I realize what is happening. Other times, I can instantly pinpoint the deficiency and nip it in the bud before I take a trip to crazy town.
Listed below are 7 signs or symptoms of lacking sufficient amounts of vitamin D that anyone can notice on their own. I have personally experienced each symptom, and feel it is important to share what I have gone through, in hopes that it may help someone else recognize that vitamin D deficiency might be the root of their own health problems. I have included links throughout the post to direct you to more information on specific benefits, supplementation, and suggested dosages.
Depression or Anxiety
Fatigue, brain fog, and general weakness
Joint and muscle pain
Muscle spasms or twitching
Moodiness and irritability
1. Low Immunity
Are you or the kids coming down with little bugs more often than usual? Your immune system could be struggling due to not having sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Everyone automatically thinks of vitamin C when they think of immune-boosting vitamins, but very little people realize that vitamin D is just as, if not more important when it comes to immune health. For more information, check out this super scientific article that tells you all about it.
2. Depression or Anxiety
So many people around me have been struggling with depression and anxiety recently. I know that I certainly have had my moments, too. My very first question for every single one of them has been “are you taking a vitamin D supplement?”.
And every answer? “….no.”
I would have thought that people who live in these extreme weather conditions would have had vitamin D supplements shoved down their throats their whole lives. But, nope. No one seems to talk about it. (I am sure there are a lot of exceptions, mind you. This is just among my small pool of friends. I have not spent any time surveying around for this opinion. If you are one of the many Northerners that stay on top of your vitamin D regimen, this post is not for you, as you are doing great!)
“There are several clinical trials that have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and mental illness. According to these studies, low levels of vitamin D are thought to be involved in anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, learning, memory, and social behavior. Much of this research has offered evidence that supplementing low levels of vitamin D can improve psychological well-being in many cases.” Read more here.
3. Fatigue, Brain Fog, and General Weakness
This is usually my first sign of low vitamin D. Getting out of bed becomes harder than usual, and I have zero energy to do anything or even think about doing anything. Just thinking about things makes me feel exhausted. That’s not good! This is also the case for a lot of you out there. Many studies have shown the importance of vitamin D supplementation in those that experience chronic fatigue and/or conditions that cause symptoms of chronic fatigue, such as fibromyalgia and Lupus.
Read here for more information on these underlying conditions and how vitamin D can help.
4. Joint and Muscle Pain
Another big sign of vitamin D deficiency is experiencing joint and muscle pain. In my personal experience, this one tends to affect me the worst. Pain can be felt in every single joint in your body, but particularly the back, hands, arms, knees, and feet. It can feel like you suddenly have arthritis. Everywhere. Your muscles and joints can ache so much that you feel like you are aching to your bones, or straight to your core. Or you can be one of the lucky ones out there that never have any joint or muscle pain at all. Everyone experiences vitamin D deficiency differently!
5. Muscle Spasms or Twitching
Do you ever seem to be extra twitchy? Like, you’re just sitting there, and suddenly your thigh starts twitching uncontrollably. Or you get that super annoying eye-twitch that keeps coming back throughout the day? I used to think that it had something to do with not being properly hydrated, or lacking potassium or magnesium (all are definitely parts of the problem), but now I realize that vitamin D deficiency also plays a major role due to decreased ionized calcium. Since your body relies on vitamin D to absorb calcium, having a deficiency results in all sorts of problems caused by insufficient calcium absorption.
6. Moodiness and Irritability
I am sure that the people around me will say this it the worst symptom for them because I inevitably take out my moodiness and irritability on them! This is also how I know when my non-milk drinking 5-year-old is having some vitamin D issues. He turns into Mr. Cranky-Pants McGee. I try to keep that guy at bay by adding a few vitamin D drops to his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He is none the wiser, and we can all get along. I buy these drops and use them for the entire family.
7. Weight Gain
Ugh. The struggle. And lacking vitamin D does not help.
“It has been discovered that in women, both total and abdominal fat were associated with lower vitamin D levels, but that abdominal fat had the greatest impact. In men, however, lower vitamin D levels were significantly linked with fat in the liver and abdomen.
Across both sexes, more belly fat predicted lower levels of vitamin D.”
It is important to note that not everyone with experience all, or any of these symptoms. I am not a doctor, nor do I mean for this post to diagnose any conditions. Please take the time to read my disclaimer pertaining to health advice found at the bottom of this blog.
If you suspect that you have low vitamin D levels, it is always wise to consult your doctor and see if they can run a blood panel for you. If you continue to have issues after taking supplements for low vitamin D, there could be an underlying condition causing malabsorption of the vitamin and you should see your doctor so you can both try to discover the root of it.