Food & Nutrition

9 Signs That Could Mean You’re Not Getting Enough Vitamin D

Your bones hurt

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Adults who don’t get enough vitamin D often have aches and pains in their muscles and bones, especially in the winter. Their joints are also a little stiffer in the morning. “Many aches and pains are symptoms of the classic vitamin D deficiency, osteomalacia,” says Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Soft bones are more likely to bow and fracture than ones that are healthy and hard.

You’re experiencing erectile dysfunction

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If you or your sexual partner is suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED), lack of vitamin D may be to blame. A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men with severe ED had significantly lower levels of vitamin D than those with mild cases of ED. Men diagnosed with ED often have cardiovascular disease, which is also associated with a lack of vitamin D. Some experts suggest that treating a vitamin D deficiency may decrease the risk of ED, says Angeline. Don’t miss these vitamin mistakes you don’t realize you’re making.

You’re prone to stress fractures

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“Most people think of a lack of calcium when talking about bone health, which is true. However, without vitamin D, calcium doesn’t get absorbed properly,” says Jennifer Giamo, a nutritionist, certified personal trainer, and founder of New York City-based Trainers in Transit (who has also run seven marathons). “Vitamin D, specifically D3, which increases calcium absorption, is critical to preventing bones from becoming thin and brittle.” A study in The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery found that people who participate in higher-impact activities may need greater levels of vitamin D to reduce their risk of stress fractures. In addition to these vitamin D deficiency symptoms that can put you at risk, make sure you know these signs of a calcium deficiency.

Your athletic performance could be better

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Insufficient vitamin D may impact your fitness levels and muscle function. “You may not even realize you’re not performing at your best,” says Paige Waehner, a certified personal trainer, author of The About.com Guide to Getting in Shape and the Exercise Expert at About.com. An analysis published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal found that vitamin D supplements improved the physical performance in those diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency. “Vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased inflammation. And after intense exercise, the body is inflamed,” says Giamo. “If adequate amounts of vitamin D are already in the bloodstream, then the speed of recovery from intense exercise is increased.” Giamo warns, though, not to take vitamin D supplements if you aren’t deficient in the nutrient because it’s unlikely you’ll improve your athletic performance or recovery rate. “Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone that doesn’t get excreted by the body, it could be potentially harmful if you take too much,” says Giamo. 

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