Vitamin D may be labeled as a vitamin, but it functions more as a collection of steroids or hormones within your body. We typically talk about vitamin D as a singular thing, but it is actually a group of fat-soluble vitamins that function as a steroid unit. No matter your typical intake of these nutrients, a lacking absorption of the vitamin can be detrimental to your health in the long run. Here’s how to identify a vitamin D deficiency in your body.
The Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D2 (which comes from animal sources) and vitamin D3 (which comes from plant sources) are especially crucial for a human’s health. As a hormone, vitamin D has over a hundred biological functions, including its major function of maintaining blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Well known for its means as disease protection, the combination of these nutrients can also increase our immunity, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes, or cancer, and create strong bones and muscles.
Don’t forget skin and beauty either—this hormone is necessary for the correct function of our skin and hair. Hair loss or red, dry skin can be signs of deficiency. While a majority of individuals typically receive enough vitamin D, others tend to lack it, especially during the winter months when the Earth is turned away from the sun. Since there are only three ways to receive vitamin D—sun exposure, dietary food sources, and supplements—shortages are more common than people think.
Risks and Signs of Deficiency
You should be aware if you are more at risk for this nutrient deficiency. These individuals include people with limited sunlight exposure, those who are darker-skinned, those who take certain medications, and those who have medical conditions such as celiac disease, kidney or liver diseases, as well as those who are aging and those with a higher body mass.
Signs and symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can be quite subtle. Without a blood test, these signs can be non-specific enough that they’re simply hard to catch in adults. Deficiency can be present with a variety of unique symptoms from diverse individuals. Common signs include a weakened immune system, fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness or aches, and mood changes such as depression. If you want to know for sure how to identify a vitamin D deficiency within your body, you’re going to need a take a proper blood test to identify your levels.
How To Test Vitamin D Levels
People can get tested for vitamin D deficiency with blood tests provided by a doctor at an office visit or with at-home blood spot tests that can be sent to clinical labs for testing. These personal spot tests are a fairly inexpensive and efficient method to collect a blood sample for analysis. Since a vitamin D shortage is typically simple to correct, it’s crucial to screen specific these hormones for imbalances. Your blood can provide an abundance of beneficial information to monitor any biological changes and improve your health for many years to come.