Vitamins and nutrients are central to absolutely everyone’s diet. You need to eat the right nutrients and get a proper serving of vitamins each day. Otherwise, you might wind up with health issues. But many people don’t realize that missing even just one specific vitamin in your diet can severely affect your overall health.

And lacking vitamin D could result in plenty of health concerns and conditions¹. According to recent research findings, doctors believe that a vitamin D deficiency could be linked to ailments like joint pain, depression, and even certain types of cancer.

If a vitamin D deficiency is linked to a number of illnesses and conditions like these, you need to know more. You need to know what might happen if you don’t get enough vitamin D.

What Happens When You Aren’t Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a nutrient that’s produced by your skin. However, exposure to sunlight is needed to get that dose of vitamin D².

Although vitamin D is something you can get any time you step into the sunlight, it’s a powerhouse within the body. According to the Cleveland Clinic³, vitamin D helps your body in the following ways:

  • Keeps bones strong.
  • Helps the body absorb calcium, which builds and strengthens bones.
  • Helps the parathyroid glands, which balance calcium levels in the body.

So, when you don’t get enough vitamin D, your body is forced to figure out how to function without it. This can deplete your calcium, which in turn affects your bones and their strength. It can also potentially result in other health issues and concerns.

The following are three serious health problems that are linked to a vitamin D deficiency.

The Link Between Vitamin D and Depression

Vitamin D may be centered around calcium and bone health, but it also may play a role in your overall mental health. And lacking vitamin D could be associated with feelings and thoughts related to depression.

According to WebMD⁴, a recent research study examined the potential link between vitamin D and depression, and researchers discovered that increasing vitamin D intake may help relieve some depression symptoms. A number of women who were on antidepressants with vitamin D deficiencies began taking vitamin D therapy, and after 12 weeks they began to see improvements in their depression. With the increase in vitamin D, the study’s participants noted that their “depression scores” improved from severe to mild. One saw her depression decrease to just minimal symptoms.

This research study and its findings indicate that ensuring you’re getting enough vitamin D may be key to helping with some symptoms of depression. The appropriate amount of this vitamin may be able to make you feel better and more positively. As WebMD⁵ notes, vitamin D can improve serotonin levels in the brain, which is what antidepressants also work on.

The Link Between Joint Pain and Vitamin D

Joint pain is a common ailment, especially when you’re growing older. Plenty of people experience joint pain, whether it’s the result of aging or a condition like arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. But what many people don’t realize is that a vitamin D deficiency can cause joint pain – it’s actually one of the physical symptoms.

According to Medical News Today⁶, people who aren’t getting enough vitamin D can experience joint pain, as well as muscle pain in the joints. Additionally, low vitamin D levels may even bring on rheumatoid arthritis pain, which commonly brings pain in the knees, legs, and hips⁷.

There is some research that indicates a vitamin D deficiency may be linked to rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that vitamin D can have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can relieve joint pain – and a lack of this important nutrient can do exactly the opposite⁸.

If you’re worried about your joint pain, speak with your doctor about your vitamin D levels.

The Link Between Vitamin D and Cancer

Cancer is one of the biggest, most pressing health concerns. And there are plenty of risk factors that can potentially lead to cancer. Surprisingly, something as seemingly simple as a vitamin D deficiency might play a role too.

Research studies are discovering that there may be a link between certain types of cancer and vitamin D. A lack of vitamin D may increase your risk of developing these specific cancers.

According to BreastCancer.org⁹, women who have low levels of vitamin D may be at a higher risk for breast cancer. This may be because vitamin D affects breast cell growth. Additionally, Healthline10 notes that a vitamin D deficiency may also increase a man’s risk for prostate cancer. Some studies have found that vitamin D may slow prostate cancer’s onset, others have found that prostate cancer is less common in areas with a lot of sun exposure.

Ultimately, it’s a good idea to ensure you’re getting the recommended amount of vitamin D. If you’re worried about your risk for cancer, talk with your doctor about vitamin D and other potential risk factors.

How You Can Prevent a Vitamin D Deficiency

There’s still more for the medical community to learn about the links between vitamin D deficiency and health concerns like joint pain, cancer, and depression. But there is something you can do right now. You can make sure you’re getting proper nutrition and meeting the daily recommended amount of vitamin D.

Currently, the Institute of Medicine11 recommends 600 IU of vitamin D for people up to age 70 and 800 IU for individuals over age 70. You can change your diet to ensure you’re getting nutrients from your food or take vitamin D supplements if needed. You can also talk with your doctor if you aren’t getting enough vitamin D.

Taking action now, and correcting or avoiding a vitamin D deficiency, could prevent potential health issues in the future. You could potentially change your risk of developing certain conditions, making vitamin D an important piece of your nutrition.