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Are You Lacking Vitamin D? Could This Be the New No-Needle Way to Find Out?

If you’re squeamish about needles and shy away from blood work unless it’s a life-or-death situation, you may perk up at the fact that scientists say they can now measure your vitamin D levels from a sample of your hair.

Since the blood testing process requires expertise and hygienic conditions and equipment, this noninvasive test with hair could be the answer to assessing whether to prescribe vitamin D supplementation, ET Healthworld reports.

As mentioned in the featured article, vitamin D deficiency has become a worldwide epidemic. While the best way to get vitamin D is by spending a little time in full sun every day, the logistics of that solution aren’t applicable to much of the world all of the time. Subsequently, people look to supplements to get their vitamin D levels up.

And why would you want to do that? For one thing, a growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. There are about 30,000 genes in your body, and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them, as well as vitamin D receptors located throughout your body.

According to one large-scale study, optimal Vitamin D levels can slash your risk of cancer by as much as 60 percent. Keeping your levels optimized can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate and skin cancers.

Unfortunately, even though we know how vital it is to maintain good levels of vitamin D, many are still misled by the idea that you can get adequate levels of this sunshine vitamin by drinking fortified milk or eating fortified foods like bread or cereal — none of which are fortified enough to give you the vitamin D levels you need for good health. Subsequently, this can lead you to being vitamin D deficient, especially if you don’t have access to bright sun every day.

So how do you know if you’re vitamin D deficient? Here are five signs that you could be — if any of the following apply to you, you should get your vitamin D levels tested sooner rather than later, and take proactive steps to boost your level into the 60 to 80 ng/mL range:

1. Ongoing musculoskeletal pain and achy bones — According to vitamin D researcher Dr. Michael Holick, many who see their doctor for aches and pains, especially in combination with fatigue, end up being misdiagnosed as having fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, when actually it’s a vitamin D deficiency causing these pains.

2. Frequent illness/infections — Vitamin D regulates the expression of genes that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses, so frequent illness and infections of all kinds, including colds and flu, is a tipoff that your immune function is subpar, which likely means you're low on vitamin D.

3. Neurological symptoms — This includes depression, "feeling blue, cognitive impairment, headaches and migraines. In 2006, scientists evaluated the effects of vitamin D on the mental health of 80 elderly patients and found those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy doses.

4. Fatigue and daytime sleepiness — Studies show vitamin D deficiency can make you feel constantly tired and needing frequent daytime naps.

5. Head sweating — According to Holick, a classic sign of vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head. In fact, physicians used to ask new mothers about head sweating in their newborns for this very reason. Excessive sweating in newborns due to neuromuscular irritability is still described as a common, early symptom of vitamin D deficiency.

Also, be aware that several risk factors will influence your vitamin D levels including rarely spending time outdoors or always wearing sunscreen, having darker skin, being age 50 or older, being obese and having gastrointestinal problems that affect your ability to absorb fat and, as a result, fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D.

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