If you think you don't get enough vitamin D, you might be right -- and you're not alone. More than 1 billion people across the globe have a vitamin D deficiency, according to Harvard School of Public Health, making it a worldwide concern. You might not realize you have a deficiency because the symptoms are often barely noticeable; however, failure to take action can lead to a number of other chronic diseases.
Vitamin D contributes to muscle strength, so an inadequate intake of this vitamin in your diet can cause weakness and pain, according to Linus Pauling Institute. Muscle weakness can also make it difficult to move around, leading to falls and injuries. If you have developed a vitamin D deficiency, you might realize feel tired or in pain when carrying in the groceries or lifting the baby from his crib, when you had no trouble before.
Bone Fractures and Disease
Low levels of vitamin D can result in fractures because bones depend upon vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus for strength and development. A severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to the bone disease rickets, especially in children. Some symptoms of rickets are tooth decay, soft and malformed bones and bowed legs. Babies ranging from 3 months to 3 years old have a high risk for rickets, especially if exclusively breast-fed, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Those with a vitamin D deficiency -- particularly older women -- also run the risk of osteoporosis, or weakened and brittle bones.
If you notice that you or your family have an increased number of infections, colds or the flu, this could be a sign that you are not getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D gives your immune system a boost by producing proteins that fight infection, colds and flu. People who have low levels of vitamin D often contract repeated respiratory infections, according to Harvard School of Public Health. If you are concerned about excessive colds or infections, ask your doctor to check vitamin D levels with a simple blood test.
An effective way to prevent vitamin D deficiency is to go outside with your children without applying sunscreen and play in the sunlight for about 10 minutes each day, according to the Linus Paulding Institute. Sunscreen blocks your skin’s ability to produce vitamin D3. However, keep track of the time you are out in the sun without sunscreen to prevent sunburn. You can break up the 10 minutes exposure time into two 5-minute intervals, especially for those with fair skin who might burn easily. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of the skin after the five or 10 minutes is up. For an extra boost of vitamin D, serve foods rich in this nutrient to your family, such as fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified cereals, and vitamin D-fortified milk or infant formula.