11 scary things that can happen if you don't get enough vitamin D

PX HereVitamin D is essential to a person’s overall health.
  • Vitamin D is a hormone that’s created in your body when your skin is exposed to the sun.
  • Without the proper amount of vitamin D, you could develop health problems, including heart conditions and weakened bones.
  • Children who have vitamin D deficiencies are at a higher risk of developing rickets.

With fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures, it can be challenging to get enough vitamin D during the winter months.

Without the proper amount of vitamin D, you could develop health problems, including heart conditions and weakened bones. Children who have vitamin D deficiencies are at a higher risk of developing rickets, a condition in which bones become soft and weak.

Vitamin D is a hormone that’s created in your body when your skin is exposed to the sun. It helps your body absorb calcium and sustain healthy amounts of phosphorus. Some supplements and foods, such as fatty fish, help your body produce vitamin D, but the best way to get enough is from the sun.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended amount of vitamin D is 400 international units for children up to 1 year old, 600 international units for people from 1 to 70 years old, and 800 international units for people over 70 years old. However,more may be necessary for healthy adults, according to a 2008 study.

A 2010 study found that 41.6% of the US adult population has a vitamin D deficiency.

A vitamin D deficiency, as defined by the study, occurs when someone has less than 20 nanograms per milliliter in their blood. In order to have sufficient levels of vitamin D again, people in the study needed to take 5,000 international units to reach 30 nanograms per milliliter, according to Healthline.

Read on to find out the risks of becoming deficient in vitamin D.

Your head might start sweating excessively.

ShutterstockIt’s one of the earliest signs of a vitamin D deficiency.

Dr. Michael Holick of Boston University Medical Center told HuffPost that an excessively sweaty head is “one of the first, classic signs of vitamin D deficiency.”

You could be a lot more tired than usual.

Flickr/jazbeckIf you’re feeling tired, ask your doctor if you’re getting enough vitamin D.

A 2015 study of female nurses found a strong connection between fatigue and vitamin D deficiency. Another study found that taking a vitamin D supplement could help.

“There is mounting evidence that vitamin D deficiencies are associated with fatigue and sleep disorders,” California State University, Fresno, professor Catherine Jackson told Reader’s Digest.

Your immune system could be weakened.

ShutterstockIf you’re getting sick often, lack of vitamin D could be the culprit.

Scientists have long considered vitamin D important for calcium levels, but studies have shown it’s also important for your immune system. If you have low levels of vitamin D, you’re more likely to get sick often.

A study from the University of Eastern Finland found that people with low levels of vitamin D are more than 2 1/2 times as much at risk of developing pneumonia than people with high vitamin D levels.

You’re more likely to be depressed.

ShutterstockMultiple studies have found a correlation between vitamin D levels and depression.

Vitamin D can also affect your mood, a 1998 study found. Other studies have also found links between vitamin D deficiency and depression, though some controlled trials haven’t found that same link, according to Healthline.

You could develop heart conditions or high blood pressure.

John Moore/Getty ImagesHigh blood pressure is associated with a vitamin D deficiency.

According to research presented at the American College of Cardiology, people with lower levels of vitamin D were more likely to have coronary artery disease, and have it more severely.

A study from 2013 also found a causal link between hypertension, or high blood pressure, and vitamin D deficiency.

Your bones are more likely to fracture, and children could develop rickets.

Because vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, if you aren’t getting enough, your bones could become weaker, which puts you at an increased risk of fractures.

“Without vitamin D, calcium doesn’t get absorbed properly,” nutritionist Jennifer Giamo told Reader’s Digest. “Vitamin D, specifically D3, which increases calcium absorption, is critical to preventing bones from becoming thin and brittle.”

If adults have a vitamin D deficiency, they are also at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and osteomalacia, according to MDMag. Osteomalacia causes bones to hurt, and osteoporosis causes bones to get thinner and easier to fracture.

In children, a severe vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, which can cause skeletal deformities such as bowed legs or breastbone projection.

You’re at higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

PixabayExposure to sunlight might be associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

Some research has shown that vitamin D can lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, and for people who already have MS, vitamin D can lower the severity of their symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Further, there seems to be an association between a lack of exposure to sunlight and the development of MS.

The risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia could be higher.

Chinnapong / ShutterstockThe study associating the two isn’t conclusive.

A 2014 review of eight observational studies concluded that people with vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia but that more clinical trials are needed to confirm the review.

You have a higher possibility of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Older adults who have moderate to severe vitamin D deficiencies are at greater risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2014 study.

You could have a harder time surviving cancer.

ShutterstockA 2014 study looked at vitamin D levels in people with cancer.

According to another 2014 study, people who have cancer and have higher levels of vitamin D have higher survival rates than people who have cancer and are vitamin D deficient.

“The results suggest vitamin D may influence the prognosis for people with breast cancer, colorectal cancer and lymphoma, in particular,” said Dr. Hui Wang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai.

You could die prematurely.

tk/ShutterstockVitamin D is important for your overall health.

People with low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the main circulating form of vitamin D, are more likely to die earlier than people with healthy levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, according to research published in The American Journal of Public Health that analysed 32 studies for the correlation between all-cause mortality and vitamin D.

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