With flu season upon us and serious new viruses like Enterovirus D68 making the rounds, keeping blood levels of vitamin D at optimal levels can be truly lifesaving especially for children and the elderly.
Flu is actually vitamin D deficiency disease, not a happenstance occurrence in your life because you didn’t get a flu shot or sat next to a coughing person on the train to work.
Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council and one of the most preeminent Vitamin D researchers in the world today, has identified that vitamin D helps produce the antimicrobial peptides that protect against the flu. This is why people are more prone to the flu in winter when Vitamin D producing sunshine is minimal or nonexistent at some latitudes, or people are too bundled up to get enough skin exposed in the first place.
Bolstering Dr. Cannell’s suggestion that vitamin D deficiency is why people get the flu, a study published in the journal Nature Immunology further explains how vitamin D protects us by properly activating T cells, an important part of the immune system:
“When a T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it extends a signaling device or ‘antenna’ known as a vitamin D receptor, with which it searches for vitamin D.
This means the T cell must have vitamin D or activation of the cell will cease. If the T cells cannot find enough vitamin D in the blood, they won’t even begin to mobilize.”
This is troubling given that vitamin D levels were reported by the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009 to have plummeted for every single age, race, and ethnic group in the United States over the past two decades.
Vitamin D deficiency is such that it can lurk unnoticed until it is too late and you are already sick. Another challenge is that it takes time, usually at least several weeks, to raise vitamin D levels and so a few days of taking supplements is not going to cut it especially if you have a serious deficiency challenge to overcome or already have the flu.
Below are 10 signs that vitamin D is likely a problem and potentially a serious deficiency that needs to be addressed immediately. If any of these symptoms are an issue for you, a simple vitamin D blood spot test can verify that this is the case.
If low levels do indeed need to be addressed, the best whole food based supplement to bring vitamin D levels into optimal range without the danger of overdosing (like with prescription vitamin D drops) is fermented cod liver or skate liver oils.
1. Chronic Pain
Bone pain and chronic pain in general is a subtle symptom of serious vitamin D deficiency. Don’t take this symptom lightly! Get your vitamin D levels checked and address the problem.
A study conducted by Greg Plotnikoff, MD, senior consultant with the Allina Center for Health Care Innovations, makes the point. 150 people living in Minneapolis who came to a health clinic complaining of chronic pain were tested for vitamin D levels. Virtually every single one, 93%, suffered from extremely low vitamin D. “The group with the lowest levels of vitamin D were white women of childbearing age,” Plotnikoff says.
2. Muscle Weakness
Here’s a shocker most folks don’t realize: most muscle weakness issues are low vitamin D related. The National Institutes of Health reports that a person suffering from a vitamin D deficiency will have trouble with proper muscle function.
This extremely common skin issue is an autoimmune disorder that many don’t realize can be vitamin D related. This nutrient plays an important role in the treatment of psoriasis. Psoriasis gets worse over time and spreads, so even if you only have a little spot on your elbow or knee, get your vitamin D levels checked and be sure to be taking a daily dose of fermented cod liver oil.
4. Constant Fatigue
Vitamin D is necessary for the body to produce energy. If you are constantly tired or must lean heavily on that morning cup of Joe to get going in the morning, best to play it safe and get your levels checked.
No, it’s not all in your head! Feelings of hopelessness can be related to simple nutritional deficiency. The Vitamin D Council reports that vitamin D is critical for the brain to produce the happy hormone seratonin. Some folks only suffer from depression during winter months, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is caused by lack of sun exposure and hence vitamin D during this time of year.
6. Sweaty Head
This is quite possibly the weirdest symptom of vitamin D deficiency. Old time doctors apparently used to ask new mothers if their heads were sweatier than normal in order to pinpoint a lurking vitamin D deficiency as reported by NDHealthFacts. A sweaty head is also a subclinical symptom of rickets, possibly the most prominent and dangerous form of vitamin D deficiency in children.
7. Constant Respiratory Problems
This warning symptom is related to flu as a vitamin D deficiency disease. If low vitamin D puts people at risk for flu, it stands to reason they would be at risk for other respiratory problems too and possibly on a chronic basis. Studies have demonstrated that vitamin D protects against respiratory illness particularly in children, who require hospitalization most frequently due to bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
Scared of Enterovirus D68? The most proactive step you can take is to make sure your children are taking a daily dose of fermented cod liver or skate liver oil!
8. Hypertension and/or Cardiovascular Disease
My mother helped resolve serious high blood pressure issues with a daily dose of fermented cod liver oil. Her success in this regard is in line with the Vitamin D Council which recommends adequate vitamin D levels in order to avoid this silent, symptomless killer which afflicts 1 out of every 3 US adults (and 4 in 10 worldwide).
In addition, the National Institutes of Health has identified vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor which can lead to congestive heart failure.
9. Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease is a growing health concern and a primary and powerful predictor for premature cardiovascular disease.
Not surprisingly, given that cardiovascular disease itself indicates a likely vitamin D deficit, research indicates that those that suffer from chronic kidney disease are also D deficient in a big way.
10. You are an Infection Magnet
If you suffer from one infection after another, it is wise to get those vitamin D levels checked pronto. As described above, T cells which are an important part of the immune system, are properly activated by vitamin D. So, if levels are low or even undetectable, adequate and effective immune response to any infection in the body will be severely hampered.
Do you suffer from any of these 10 symptoms? If so, do you suspect a vitamin D deficiency? Did you already take action and get a blood spot test or start taking fermented cod liver or skate liver oil? What did you find out and what have your results been?
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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