Vitamin D is a nutrient that’s important for bone health, inflammation, and immune function. Vitamin D is also needed for red blood cell production. As a result, a low level may lead to anemia. It’s an indirect, but important, relationship.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that’s essential for bone health, proper immune function, regulating inflammation, and several other body functions. Vitamin D deficiency is quite common, affecting about
Anemia occurs when your level of red blood cells is lower than normal. Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body. Blood loss, low iron or B12 levels, or some health conditions and medications can cause anemia. In the United States, it’s estimated that 6.86% of the population has anemia.
At first glance, anemia and vitamin D deficiency seem to be unrelated, but there’s a potential association. Vitamin D has several roles that help maintain normal red blood cell levels. Also, people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have anemia.
Hepcidin also protects your body by blocking the absorption of too much iron. High iron levels can be harmful to your organs. When there’s inflammation in your body, hepcidin levels go up. It’s a protective measure when your body is dealing with infection or inflammation.
High hepcidin levels mean that less iron is available to make new red blood cells. This can cause red blood cell levels to drop, resulting in anemia.
Vitamin D and hepcidin
Research suggests that low vitamin D levels can also increase hepcidin levels. This reduces red blood cell production. When vitamin D levels are increased, levels of hepcidin have been shown to
Vitamin D may also help reduce inflammation. When inflammation decreases, it lowers hepcidin levels, and your body can make more red blood cells again.
There’s also emerging evidence that vitamin D plays a more direct role in the production of red blood cells. Vitamin D may
It’s important to remember that it’s not just low levels of vitamin D that can lead to anemia. Your body also needs other nutrients, including iron and B12, to create red blood cells.
Typically, our main source of vitamin D has been sunlight. Our bodies create vitamin D from sun exposure. With the risk of skin cancer and winter conditions in colder areas, it’s not always possible to get enough vitamin D from the sun.
Many people take vitamin D supplements to ensure they’re meeting their daily vitamin D needs.
Adults up to 70 years or age need
If you have low vitamin D levels, you may need a higher amount of vitamin D at first to get your levels back into a normal range.
Sources of vitamin D
There are only a few food sources of vitamin D. It’s hard to get enough from diet alone. Food sources include:
- milk fortified with vitamin D
- fatty fish
- egg yolks
- mushrooms treated with ultraviolet (UV) light
- other foods fortified with vitamin D, including cereal and yogurt
There are a lot of variables, though, depending on the climate where you live. People with darker skin and older adults have a
Many of the symptoms of anemia are due to lower oxygen levels in the blood. There are many causes of anemia, but the symptoms will be similar.
Typical symptoms of anemia include:
If you’re experiencing symptoms of anemia, the next step is to get a blood test.
The blood test results will provide information about the health of your red blood cells. Iron and B12 levels are often checked at the same time. Low levels of these nutrients can cause anemia. Vitamin D isn’t usually checked when you’re screened for anemia. You can discuss with a healthcare professional whether your vitamin D levels should also be checked.
Untreated anemia can cause anemia symptoms to get worse. Feeling tired, light-headed, and short of breath can make daily activities more difficult. In cases of severe anemia, a
Treatments for anemia include:
- Iron supplements: Oral supplements are typically the first-line treatment for iron-deficiency anemia. There are many types and doses available.
- B12 supplements: If low B12 levels are contributing to anemia, oral B12 supplements or B12 shots can help increase levels.
- Intravenous (IV) iron: This is a way to quickly boost iron levels in severe anemia or if oral iron supplements aren’t an option.
- Blood transfusions: This may be an option if blood loss is the reason for low red blood cells. It can also be used in cases of severe anemia to help normalize levels.
Vitamin D deficiency happens when levels of vitamin D are low in your body. It’s a common deficiency, affecting about
Researchers have discovered a link between low vitamin D levels and anemia. Low vitamin D levels may affect your body’s ability to make new red blood cells. This could lead to anemia.
Regular blood work is the best way to monitor your vitamin D levels and screen for anemia. While there are no standard guidelines to monitor the association between vitamin D levels and anemia, your vitamin D levels can still be an indicator of your overall health. Vitamin D deficiency and anemia are both treatable conditions.