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Vitamin D has powerful effects that are pervasive throughout our body, evidenced by the fact that its receptor is found in every single one of our cells. Vitamin D is NOT just a “vitamin.” It functions as a hormone at a cellular level.

Vitamin D deficiency affects 1 billion people worldwide. The overall prevalence rate of Vitamin D deficiency in the United States is a whopping 41.6%, with the highest rate seen in blacks (82.1%), followed by Hispanics (69.2%).

Vitamin D deficiency is hard to diagnose. Symptoms are usually vague and unrecognizable but can have a significant negative impact on your quality of life. Here are examples.

Getting sick often: Vitamin D is a key player in supporting a healthy immune response. If you find yourself contracting colds, respiratory infections or the flu often, low vitamin D levels could be the culprit.

Fatigue and feeling tired: Low levels of vitamin D can cause these symptoms. A large study looking at the relationship between fatigue in young women and Vitamin D showed that those women with levels under 30 ng/ml were more likely to complain of this symptom.

Depression: Feelings of depression could be a sign of Vitamin D deficiency. Several studies support the link between depression and Vitamin D. Studies have also shown that giving people Vitamin D who are deficient, improves their depression, including those suffering from seasonal depression (usually occurring in the winter).

Hair loss: Low Vitamin D levels in women have been linked to hair loss as well as alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease characterized by loss of hair from the head and other parts of the body. It may also be a risk factor for developing the disease.

Muscle pain: Vitamin D deficiency can be the offender in both children and adults. Nerve cells, called nociceptors sense pain, and all have Vitamin D receptors. Studies show that patients with chronic pain are found to be Vitamin D deficient. Taking high dose of Vitamin D has been shown to significantly reduce pain in both children and adults.

Impaired wound healing: Vitamin D is needed during the healing process to not only control inflammation and fight infection, but for the production of specific growth factors necessary for new skin formation that occurs during wound healing. If you don’t think you heal well, check your Vitamin D because it may be low.

Chronic low back pain: There appears to be a correlation between back pain and Vitamin D levels. Several studies support the relationship between Vitamin D deficiency and chronic low back pain, particularly in post-menopausal women.