Does Vitamin D Deficiency Make You More Tired?

When you hear someone talk about vitamin D, you're likely to associate it with the sun. Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin because a lot of the naturally derived vitamin D our bodies absorb come from sunlight (via Healthline). Specifically, when the sun shines on your skin, your body utilizes the exposure to turn cholesterol into vitamin D. From enhancing immunity to maintaining bone density, vitamin D is an essential nutrient that our bodies need to thrive.

Vitamin D deficiency occurs when your body doesn't have enough of the vitamin to complete its vital functions, like creating enough calcium in the bones and maintaining muscle health, according to Cleveland Clinic. The good news is that vitamin D deficiency is treatable, but you must first know how to recognize signs that your body may not have enough. Adults over 65 years of age are the most likely to be affected by vitamin D deficiency, but anyone of any age can experience a deficiency of vitamin D. Signs of vitamin deficiency include muscle aches, pains, and weakness, as well as pain in bones and changes in mood regulation. Another common symptom of vitamin D deficiency is fatigue, which can lead to becoming tired sooner and for longer periods of time. Here's what you should know about vitamin D deficiency and how it can make you feel tired.

The cycle of Vitamin D deficiency and fatigue

Worldwide, an estimated one billion people experience vitamin D deficiency, with half of the population considered to be insufficient (via Omegaquant). Fatigue is a common symptom of vitamin D deficiency. However, you may be surprised to learn all of the ways in which fatigue can become compounded when someone is experiencing vitamin D deficiency. Feeling chronically tired can lead to a negative cycle of behaviors that make the fatigue increasingly worse. 

For example, if you're feeling tired, then you're less likely to exercise – and a lack of exercise can result in low energy levels. Similarly, when you're lacking energy, it can be easy to grab the nearest bag of chips or other junk food to quickly satisfy your appetite, instead of putting together well-balanced meals. Not eating a nutritious diet can exacerbate feelings of fatigue if you're filling up on processed foods (which are likely to be high in added sugars) rather than nutritious meal choices. Cleveland Clinic reports that food is a primary source of vitamin D, so eating foods without adequate nutritional value can further decrease levels of Vitamin D in the body.

Children are also susceptible to vitamin D deficiency, which often results in sleep disturbances and poor sleep quality (per Healthline). When a child experiences vitamin D deficiency, they might be more likely to delay bedtime and sleep for shorter periods of time than their age and development require.

Treating vitamin D deficiency and fatigue

Breaking the cycle of fatigue that can accompany vitamin D deficiency is possible — though it's admittedly difficult to start the process. Seemingly simple tasks like making appointments with your healthcare provider can be difficult when you feel fatigued. But there are many ways that you can get more vitamin D. Supplements are a useful option in treating vitamin D deficiency as they are a concentrated source. If an adult is diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, it is usually recommended that they consume 6,000 international units (IU) daily, or 50,000 IU per week, for eight weeks. However, always adhere to the advice of your healthcare provider when it comes to taking supplements.

When it comes to children, infants from birth to 12 months of age should obtain a daily minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D, and children and adolescents should receive a daily minimum of 600 IU, reports Reuters. Utilizing warm, sunny weather is a good opportunity to get kids outside and exposed to the necessary sunlight their bodies need to maintain vitamin D levels. Recommendations for both children and adults to maintain healthy vitamin D levels include eating salmon, tuna, vegetables, and fortified dairy including milk, yogurt, and eggs. Fortified cereals are also a recommended option for increasing vitamin D through diet.