Subtle Signals in Vitamin D3 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin D3, the storage form of vitamin D, is essential to human health. The vitamin D3 deficiency symptoms, however, can be hard to detect. Here is what you need to know about the subtle signals that your levels of vitamin D need to be corrected now.
Vitamin D3 Deficiency Where You Would Never Expect It
Johnny won the lottery. A hard core surfer, he moved to Maui where he could surf the north shore every day of the year, and especially in the winter. Johnny spent all day, every day shirtless in the full sun, and he was, aside from the consumption of some illicit substances, in the best health of his life.
Despite living out his dreams, Johnny started feeling run down. He started feeling depressed. He started getting excruciatingly painful kidney stones. His bones ached even when he could find any kind of bruising, cuts, or scrapes from bumping the rocks on the shore. He got constipation and nausea and bad breath. Finally, Johnny went to the doctor.
Johnny's doctors knew his vitamins, so he ran tests of both the active form ( 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D) and the storage form (25-dihydroxy vitamin D) of vitamin D. Johnny had plenty of the active form of vitamin D, but he was almost totally depleted of the storage form of vitamin D. This was because the tiny parathyroid glands were working overtime to activate vitamin D, due to a tumor.
You don't have to have a tumor to have an abnormality in the regulation of vitamin D. In fact, a scientific study found that housewives in Wisconsin who take supplemental vitamin D can have more nearly normal vitamin D level than surfers in Maui. Just because you get lots of sun does not mean you get all the vitamin D you need. Only testing will tell for sure.
What Your Doctor May Not Know About a Vitamin D3 Test
A simple blood test can tell whether you are vitamin D3 deficient. Choosing the right blood test is the important consideration. If you really are vitamin D deficient, then one of the kinds of vitamin D will be low to nearly non-existent but the other kind of vitamin D may be higher than normal.
And since so many doctors do not know which kind of vitamin D to test, you could be told you have normal levels of D3 when actually your vitamin D3 levels are low. Here is the important distinction:
- The right blood test to determine your vitamin D3 levels is 25 (OH) vitamin D, also known as 25-hydroxy vitamin D.
- The wrong blood test to determine your vitamin D3 levels is 1,25 (OH)2 vitamin D, also known as 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D.
Why is it so important to choose the right test to determine whether or not you suffer vitamin D insufficiency?
- The 25-hydroxy form of vitamin D stays in your bloodstream about 12 weeks. The 1,25-dihydroxy form of vitamin D stays in your bloodstream about 48 hours. The first kind of vitamin D tells you a great deal more about your long-term vitamin levels.
- When your vitamin D levels begin to drop, your parathyroid glands pump out a hormone that activates the conversion of 25-hydroxy vitamin D into 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D. Measuring your 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels gives you a much earlier warning of vitamin deficiency.
Is There Anyone Who Definitely Needs a Test for Vitamin D3 Levels?
In late 2010 researchers published a study of pregnant women in the US state of South Carolina. Located at a southerly latitude, South Carolina is farther south than Los Angeles, most Mediterranean beaches, and many locations in the Sahara desert. South Carolina gets a lot of sun. One group of South Carolinians, however, was found to have widespread vitamin D deficiency.
That group was pregnant women, especially women of African descent. An astonishing 94% of African-American women were vitamin D "insufficient" during pregnancy, insufficiency meaning not enough vitamin D for good health. The study found that 48% of African-American women were vitamin D "deficient," meaning they had so little vitamin D that bone problems were highly likely in their children.
Vitamin D deficiency was also found in 38% of pregnant Hispanic women and 14% of white women, due to the fact that white skins make more vitamin D. No matter what your race, if you are a woman who is pregnant, make sure to get your vitamin D, at least 600 IU a day.
Hamilton SA, McNeil R, Hollis BW, Davis DJ, Winkler J, Cook C, Warner G, Bivens B, McShane P, Wagner CL. Profound Vitamin D Deficiency in a Diverse Group of Women during Pregnancy Living in a Sun-Rich Environment at Latitude 32°N. Int J Endocrinol. 2010;2010:917428. Epub 2010 Dec 9.