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8 Must-Know Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

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    You're Suffering from Stress Fractures

    This is the only true symptom of vitamin D deficiency, says Adrian Gombart, PhD, an associate professor in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University at Corvallis who studies vitamin D extensively. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium (the building blocks of bones) from food. "If you have less than 20 micrograms per milliliter of vitamin D in your blood, you don't have enough D to transport calcium into your bones."

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    You Live in a City

    Low-light areas mean less exposure to vitamin D–producing sunlight (we're looking at you, northerners). When studying residents in Buffalo, New York, nutrition researcher Peter Horvath of the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions found that nearly 50 percent of people have insufficient amounts of vitamin D and 25 percent may have vitamin D deficiency (having less than 30 micrograms per milliliter in their blood).

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    You're Moody

    The vitamin regulates the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin—you know, the neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Feeling low could be a symptom of a vitamin D deficiency.

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    Exercise Seems Harder

    Vitamin D is needed for muscle fibers to develop and grow, which explains why a meta-analysis published in the Health & Fitness Journal suggests that a vitamin D deficiency may affect muscle function and fitness levels.

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    You're Wishy-Washy

    You know how we talked about vitamin D's role in creating the all-important serotonin? Well, the neurotransmitter doesn't just affect your mood; it also influences other cognitive functions, like decision making and impulse control, according to a study published in FASEB Journal. If your resolve is all over the place, this could be a symptom that you're headed toward vitamin D deficiency.

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    You Have More Fat

    Insufficient vitamin D levels could make you hold on to more fat, according to a Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise study. Researchers looked at professional hockey players and found that higher fat mass was a symptom of vitamin D deficiency.

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    You Don't Get Enough Sun

    First of all, sunscreen is not a bad thing. We repeat: SUNSCREEN IS NOT A BAD THING. Buy it. Apply it. Reapply it. "But your body can't create vitamin D from sun exposure when you wear sunscreen," says Gombart. No need to choose between skin health and bone health: Gombart suggests talking to your doc about a supplement.

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    Your Doctor Says So

    If you're experiencing any of these symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, ask your doctor to test your levels, says Gombart. If your insurance doesn't pay for the test, consider an at-home kit. "They're surprisingly good," says Gombart. You can find a kit at the Vitamin D Council's website.