Vitamin D deficiency tends to be more common in the winter months because the sun, the main source of the vitamin, is in shorter supply. It’s important the body gets enough vitamin D as it helps regular calcium and phosphate, which is needed for strong and healthy bones, teeth and muscle. A person with severe vitamin D decency is at increased risk of loss of bone density and fractures. There are a number of symptoms that can indicate a deficiency – four signs are related to the eyes.
Research published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, showed vitamin D deficiency is strongly associated with dry eyes.
And there are four sins of dry eyes you should be wary of, according to the NHS.
- Feelings of dryness, grittiness or soreness that get worse throughout the day
- Burning and red eyes
- Eyelids that stick together when you wake up
- Temporarily blurred vision, which usually improves when you blink
The health body adds: “Some people may also have episodes of watering eyes, which can occur if the eye tries to relieve the irritation by producing more tears.”
According to the researchers of the study, vitamin D plays a role in dry eyes due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
They added vitamin D may help prevent dry eyes by inducing cathelicidin, an anti-microbial protein that can help heal eye wounds.
The study involved 50 women who were deficient in vitamin D and 48 women sufficient in vitamin D.
Only pre-menopausal women took part in the study, as postmenopausal hormonal changes have been found to be associated with dry eye.
Summarising the findings of the study, the researchers said: “To our knowledge, our study is the first to demonstrate the association between dry eye and clinical parameters of hypovitaminosis D such a fatigue, functional impairment and pain.”
They added: “We are of the opinion that vitamin D plays a protective role in the development of dry eye, probably by enhancing tear film parameters and reducing ocular surface inflammation…vitamin D supplementation may be useful for dry eye symptoms, including ocular discomfort, soreness, redness, ocular fatigue, sensitivity to light and blurred vision.”
Other symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include fatigue, bone and back pain and hair loss.
While the best source of the vitamin is from sunlight, it can also be gained by eating certain foods.
The Association of UK Dieticians recommends nine foods to eat to help your body get vitamin D:
Oily fish – this includes salmon, sardines, pilchards, trout, herring and kippers. Eels also contain reasonable amounts of vitamin D.
Cod liver oil contains a lot of vitamin D, but pregnant women are advised against taking it.
Egg yolk, meat, offal and milk contain small amounts but the levels can vary during the different seasons.
Finally, margarine, some breakfast cereals and some yoghurts have added or are ‘fortified’ with vitamin D.
Alongside eating a vitamin D-rich diet, taking vitamin D supplements is recommended.