Foods and supplements that contain vitamin D float in front of a shining background.

Lupus and Vitamin D

Last updated: October 2022

I never realized just how important vitamin D is in our bodies until I experienced becoming extremely deficient. I had been feeling very unwell for a number of weeks but I thought it must be a bad flare, and I figured that if I just gave it some time, then it would probably subside–only it didn't.

It reached the point where I could barely walk or get out of bed when I knew I had to get myself checked out with my rheumatologist.

Some of my symptoms included:

  • Hair loss
  • Deep pain in my left hip - nothing could shift it
  • Low mood
  • Crushing fatigue

Vitamin D levels

My rheumatologist ordered a panel of blood tests and discovered that my vitamin D levels were extremely low. I was shocked to learn from her that she had noticed a connection with her other lupus patients, who mostly had a similar deficiency to me. I decided to do some of my own research, and from various web searches, there seemed to be a link.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient required to build healthy bones and maintain a healthy body and immune system.

Once we knew that my levels were low, she started me on a medicine called Adcal D3. This was a combination of vitamin d3 and calcium - she informed me in order for our bodies to absorb the calcium, it’s vital that we have good vitamin D levels.

Tips for increasing vitamin D levels

Unfortunately, you can't derive much of it through food consumption, but my healthcare provider told me these are the best types of food to eat if you need to include more vitamin D in your daily diet:

  • Salmon or most oily fish
  • Fortified cereals
  • Egg yolks
  • Red meat
  • Cheese

The main source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight, and of course, as we all know, when we have lupus, we can experience photosensitivity, so we tend to avoid going out in the sun due to the risk of a severe flare-up. This is certainly true in my case.

Vitamin D deficiency signs

Other reasons could be that it appears that darker skin is associated with deficiency due to having higher amounts of the pigment melanin, which acts as a natural sunscreen, and also wearing sunscreen can block out vitamin D absorption.1

Some other signs of vitamin D deficiency other than the ones I experienced are:1

  • Frequent infections
  • Slow wound healing
  • Fractures
  • Joint pain

I suffer from malabsorption issues. That is why my doctor suggested that I try a mouth spray. I feel lucky that this did the trick in raising my levels.

It might be a good idea to have a chat with your medical team if you’re concerned your levels have never been checked or if you feel like you might have a deficiency. It helped me feel a lot better once my levels were restored.

How about you? Do you have a vitamin D deficiency? What did your doctor recommend? Are you struggling to get your levels to a better place? Let's keep the discussion going. Let me know what worked for you in the comments below.

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