Vitamin D’s relationship with sunlight is known across most of the world; in fact, in many places, it is known as the vitamin of the sun. However, strictly speaking, Vitamin D is not truly a vitamin because vitamins are organic compounds that the individual must ingest in order to absorb in sufficient amounts. However, because humans are able to synthesize vitamin D through a process involving exposure to sunlight, it can, in fact, be considered a hormone.
Nevertheless, although the primary natural source of vitamin D is solar exposure, for most people, it is not enough, and a supplemental and robust dietary intake is also necessary. However, very few foods contain enough vitamin D for them to be relevant, and many of them are not frequently consumed. This is one of the main reasons why vitamin D deficiency has taken on epidemic proportions in many countries around the world.
Several studies have shown that the prevalence of many diseases, such as certain types of cancers, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and, of course, osteoporosis show specific geographical variations that correspond with higher latitudes where less sunlight is absorbed. These observations have led us to believe that vitamin D insufficiency could be involved in the pathogenesis and evolution of these diseases.
Since vitamin D has two primary functions in the organism: calcium and phosphorus homeostasis, and the modulation of the immune response, the consequences of a deficit tend to be of great clinical significance. Therefore, it is vital that we inform ourselves as much as possible about the potential symptoms most commonly present in patients with low Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
1Lowered Immune Function
Among its many functions, vitamin D plays an essential regulatory role in the homeostasis of calcium and phosphorus but also has an important role in the modulation of the immune response. For example, vitamin D binds to a specific receptor, called calcitriol receptor or VDR, that can be found in various members of the immune system, such as dendritic cells, macrophages, T cells, and B lymphocytes.
In the framework of immune function, Vitamin D can increase the antimicrobial effects of monocytes and macrophages, increasing their capacity for phagocytosis, chemotaxis, and the synthesis of antimicrobial peptides. As such, adequate Vitamin D levels are crucial in the control of infections.
In fact, Vitamin D is required to activate the immune apparatus, because, without it, the T cells-charged with eradicating viruses or bacteria can not react to a serious infection.