Vitamin D deficiency symptoms: The sign in your sleep that may signal you lack the vitamin
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are nutrients that play an essential role in keeping the bones, muscles and teeth healthy. Failing to get enough vitamin D can therefore cause the body to undergo a number of adverse changes. The most commonly cited change is bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
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A growing body of evidence also suggests lacking the sunshine vitamin can disrupt your sleep-cycle.
One study published in the journal PLoS found a link between Vitamin D deficiency and shorter sleep duration.
The study found the association to be particularly pronounced in adults aged 50 and older.
Strengthening the link, more than half of the people included in the study were deficient in vitamin D.
The research is also consistent with a study published by scientists at China’s Qingdao University.
The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of several studies which investigated the role vitamin D plays in sleep.
Their analysis identified significant connections between low levels of vitamin D and a lack of sleep.
It is worth noting that the researchers also identified a link between vitamin D deficiency and poor sleep quality.
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Am I at risk of a vitamin D deficiency?
Some people won’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure.
At-risk groups include people who:
- Aren’t often outdoors – for example, if you’re frail or housebound
- Are in an institution like a care home
- Usually wear clothes that cover most of your skin when outdoors
If you have dark skin – for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background – you may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.
According to the Department of Health, you should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if you fall into one or more of these at-risk categories.
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Can I take too much?
According to the NHS, taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia).
“This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart,” explains the health website.
To keep the risks at bay, the health site advises staying with the recommended limits of 10 micrograms a day.
This advice applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17 years.
It is important to note that some people have medical conditions which means they may not be able to safely take as much, says the NHS.
“If in doubt, you should consult your doctor,” advises the health body.
It adds: “If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.”
Which foods contain vitamin D?
Vitamin D is found in a small number of foods, including:
- Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods – such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals
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