Are aching, creaking joints making your simple daily activities uncomfortable? For many of my patients, joint pain prohibits them from exercising and that’s not a good thing. I have to tell them that sore, aching joints does not have to be a function of getting older.
The truths is, sore, aching joints and bones, are more likely due to nutritional deficiencies, specifically Vitamin D! That’s right. In fact, many health researchers believe there is an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency today, especially amongst older people.
Most of my patients, like many people across the country, are deficient in Vitamin D. They work indoors all day and don’t spend much time in the sun. Recent studies have shown that Vitamin D plays an important part in making synovial fluid, the substance that surrounds joints and keeps them moving freely without pain.
Could You Have A Vitamin D Deficiency?
If you have aching and painful joints, the first and best thing you can do for yourself is to get a Vitamin D level test the next time you visit your doctor. Other symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency might include:
- Fatigue – constant tiredness, even chronic fatigue syndrome, can be from Vitamin D deficiency.
- Difficulty controlling your weight – vitamin D regulates weight levels. If your weight is stuck at a certain level or bounces back and forth, your Vitamin D levels may be off.
- Body aches – notably aching bones and joints.
- Race – very dark skinned people such as Hispanics, African Americans, and East Indians, are all at much higher risk than Caucasians of developing Vitamin D deficiency. Their skin is full of melanin, a natural sunscreen, which blocks the type of sunlight necessary to make Vitamin D.
What Can You Do About Vitamin D Deficiency?
There are several lifestyle changes you can make to guard against Vitamin D deficiency. They include:
Diet: When my patients ask about Vitamin D deficiency, I ask them what they are eating (or not eating!) on a regular basis. By what they say, I can tell if they’re likely to have a Vitamin D deficiency. A Vitamin D-friendly diet consists of dark green leafy vegetables, fatty type ocean fish, a little red meat, and sun-dried vegetables like mushrooms or tomatoes which contain good levels of Vitamin D.
Supplements: To truly combat Vitamin D deficiency in today’s world where food is over processed and soils depleted of nutrients, Vitamin D supplements are crucial. Even if you take a good multivitamin that contains Vitamin D, likely the 400 mg provided in them is not enough to get rid of your deficiency as adults require 2-4,000 units a day! Vitamin D3 is the type of Vitamin D supplement you want to look for, or ask your doctor for, as most prescription Vitamin D is the D2 form.
Sun Exposure: If you work indoors all year long and exercise in a gym rather than outdoors, you’re likely to have a Vitamin D deficiency. Taking a 15 minute break and going for a walk or run in midday sun is a good way to absorb enough of the sun’s building blocks to make Vitamin D.
As people age, one of the most debilitating ailments is the inability to move, or get around without joint pain or locking, stiff joints. It severely decreases your ability to participate in the activities of everyday life and most importantly, exercise, which is one of the most crucial aspects to staying healthy at any age.
Knowing the role Vitamin D plays in keeping your joints healthy and moving without pain is significant. Make sure you get adequate levels of Vitamin D everyday to ensure your joints will get the help they need to stay strong and healthy throughout the rest of your life!