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Ask the Pharmacist: Unusual signs of D deficiency

Suzy Cohen
Columnist
Vitamin D

When talking to your physician it’s critical that you’re as open and forthcoming about your symptoms as possible. Many doctors need to know all your symptoms in order to figure out if they’re connected. This ensures optimal treatment.

Let’s say you have high blood sugar, frequent skin rashes, erectile dysfunction, a weak urine stream, a perspiring head and bouts of sadness. And then you go to the doctor but focus only on blood sugar.

You’ve done yourself a disservice. Why? Because if you focus on blood sugar, your physician will chase it down with conventional pills such as Metformin. You will be given instructions for a special diet, and you’ll have to start testing your blood sugar with finger sticks.

Nothing is wrong with any of that, but had you mentioned all the other symptoms you deal with, it’s likely your physician would have picked up on a vitamin D deficiency and suggested that you take D before prescribing all the pills and pricks.

A deficiency of D can cause all the symptoms I’ve mentioned plus more. And if you have a good doctor that is truly listening to you, the seemingly random list of symptoms make sense from a broader perspective to them. Furthermore, the treatment you would receive will make a huge difference because it would be nice to clear all your symptoms up by restoring D levels, rather than chasing down the right drug for every symptom you have.

While maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D is important, the greatest benefits can come from healthy lifestyle changes.

Vitamin D receptors grab hold of the activated hormone form of vitamin D and then impacts the expression of about 900 genes! So, if D is low (or high) there are literally hundreds of symptoms that you could experience. Many signs and symptoms of D deficiency get medicated. For example, the “winter blues” results in part from insufficient D and yet, it’s treated with antidepressants. Whether D deficiency is the driving factor, or a contributing factor, it is something that your physician should check.

Here are some other unusual signs of D Deficiency in case you are wondering if you have any. It’s not me just saying this, there are randomized, controlled studies that have confirmed the following symptoms and related diseases are associated with insufficient D:

  • Skin rashes
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Tearfulness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritable bowel
  • Bloating
  • Fractures 
  • Cognitive decline
  • Muscle weakness
  • Neuropathy
  • Macular degeneration
  • Wheezing
  • High blood pressure
  • Frequent infections

If you decide to supplement, it’s a good idea to get your baseline levels of D, and then begin your supplementation. I have a longer version of this article posted at my website in case you’re interested. Even though it’s a nutrient that is sold everywhere, have a practitioner supervise you and test you periodically. Vitamin D is available in two forms, one that is animal (sheep) derived, and one that is plant (moss) derived. There is no difference in terms of how you absorb either version, or what benefits each provide. It just comes down to personal preference and sustainability.

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.