Fatigue, cramps, dizziness … A vitamin D deficiency affects the ability of the immune system to protect us from infections. What are its symptoms? What causes and treatments? Advice from Dr. Nina Cohen-Koubi, nutritionist and psychosomatician.
Vitamin D plays an essential role in the body. Running out of it can expose the body to more infections. The risk of deficiency “is greater in autumn-winter since there is less sun,” recalls Dr. Nina Cohen-Koubi, nutritionist and psychosomatician. What are the causes of vitamin D deficiency? The consequences? Symptoms? And the treatments to cure it? Taking capsules is a good idea? Answers with our interlocutor.
What is vitamin D deficiency?
A vitamin D deficiency results in “a vitamin D concentration between 16 and 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood,” and a deficiency “in a concentration below 16 nanograms per milliliter of blood,” explains Dr. Cohen-Koubi. According to her, the deficiency must be noted by blood test ” to see its extent and if it exists so that a doctor can suggest a prescription based on the results. If the person is around 28 or 29 ng/ml, then she is not deficient and does not need to be supplemented with vitamin D. ”
There are two possibilities to obtain your daily intake of vitamin D:
- Sun: Vitamin D is made by UV rays on the skin. “It then passes to the level of the liver and kidneys where it is activated,” specifies our interlocutor.
- Food intake from foods such as fatty fish (salmon, herring, sardines, etc.), dairy products, and cod liver oil.
What are the symptoms?
A lack of vitamin D can be detected through characteristic symptoms and signs:
- Muscle weakness.
- “The patient can also feel pain in the muscles”, explains Dr. Cohen-Koubi because the body is deprived of a vitamin that promotes the renewal of muscle fibers.
- Unusual fatigue.
- Muscle cramps.
- Signs of dry skin.
- Some signs of depression: “Vitamin D deficiency can affect morale because serotonin is less well regulated.”
- Weight gain. “If there is a deficiency, the body regulates insulin less well and the person tends to crave more sugar and put on weight.”
- Tingling may appear “certainly because of the lack of vitamin D and its action on the muscles”. However, the expert adds that this tingling can also be due to a lack of potassium or magnesium.
What are the causes of vitamin D deficiency?
The human body does not produce vitamin D on its own. Its contribution must therefore be external. In fact, the causes of a deficiency can be multiple:
- The lack of sun. The sun is one of the two sources of vitamin D: “If the patient does not expose himself between 15 and 20 minutes a day, face uncovered and arms uncovered, the body does not synthesize enough vitamin D to meet the daily requirements.”
- An insufficiently balanced diet. “Foods rich in vitamin D are essential to avoid deficiencies” explains the nutritionist. “But without the sun, these foods may not be enough and supplementation may be necessary.”
What are the (natural) treatments when you lack vitamin D?
Vitamin D deficiency can be treated with natural solutions:
→ The nutritionist advises to be in the sun for 15-20 minutes each day if possible and to consume foods rich in vitamin D.
→ Turn to food supplements in different forms, including prescription ampoules. “These are very useful for giving a boost to the patient,” explains the nutritionist. However, the dosage must be respected because taking too much vitamin D can cause an overdose: “I do not recommend self-medication. Even capsules. Without blood tests and without medical advice, the patient does not know if he has a deficiency and its extent, so he risks consuming more vitamin D than he needs, “ warns Dr Cohen-Koubi.
→ In the event of pregnancy: “I can prescribe vitamin D to a pregnant woman who has gestational diabetes because this vitamin helps to better regulate insulin.”
→ At menopause: ” For postmenopausal women, the elderly or people with osteoporosis, daily intake of Zyma D3® in drops is strongly recommended” to preserve bone solidification. Vitamin D3 is the one that is best assimilated by the human body.
→ Children can also take prescription vitamin D.
Role of vitamin D
- At the bone level: “Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and its fixation on the bones.” It allows the skeleton to be properly mineralized and it “strengthens the bones”, specifies the health professional who confirms that “vitamin D is essential to avoid bone fractures which tend to occur more often with age”.
- At the muscular level: “It promotes the contraction and renewal of fibers.”
- At the level of the vascular wall: “Vitamin D would play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular pathologies.”
- For morale: “It protects neurons and acts on mood. Serotonin, often called the” happiness hormone “, is partly synthesized in the brain from an amino acid which is activated by vitamin D . ”
- At the immune level: “It acts on the army of immune defenses against viruses because it strengthens their action.”
What are the consequences of a vitamin D deficiency?
A lack of vitamin D has several repercussions on the body:
→ On the immune system: “Vitamin D is essential for strengthening immunity” recalls the nutritionist. In case of deficiency, it weakens. Even more, if the person is stressed: “Stress, morale, food, come into play to have an effective immune system” continues our interlocutor. A March 2020 study published by Inserm shed light on the relationship between stress and reduced functioning of the immune system. Stress hormones stimulate receptors called “β2-adrenergic” , and researchers have found “that the β2-adrenergic receptors, in particular, inhibit the response of certain immune cells, the Natural Killer (NK) cells. Stimulated by stress hormones, the β2-adrenergic receptors prevent these Natural Killers from producing a particular type of cytokine required to allowing the elimination of viruses. ”
→ Vitamin D deficiency and Covid-19: “It has been observed that a large number of people developing severe forms of Covid-19 were deficient in vitamin D. If this finding is interesting, we cannot confirm for the moment that the absence of vitamin D deficiency makes it possible to avoid contamination with Covid-19. Studies are underway to find out whether vitamin D can play a role in the prevention or treatment of Covid-19 “ explains Dr. Cohen-Koubi.
→ A vitamin D deficiency can also cause muscle aches, dizziness, a weight gain of tingling of the skin dryness signs or cause unusual tiredness.
Thanks to Dr. Nina Cohen-Koubi, nutritionist and psychosomatician, for her advice.