Vitamin D Deficiency & Cold Hands

iThomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Having cold hands is a common symptom of anemia, which is linked to a vitamin D deficiency. Anemia is a condition characterized by a lack of the red blood cells needed to carry oxygen throughout your body. The elderly and people who do not get adequate sunlight are most at risk for vitamin D deficiency, which in turns increases the risk of anemia.

Anemia and Vitamin D

Having a vitamin D deficiency may increase the likelihood that you become anemic and therefore have cold hands and feet. A study published in the "Annals of Hematology" in May 2010 evaluated the prevalence of anemia in vitamin D-deficient people compared to the rest of the population. Forty-nine percent of vitamin D participants were anemic. Only 36 percent of people with healthy vitamin D levels were anemic. The study was conducted over three years in Southern California and included 554 patients.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with chronic kidney disease. A vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of anemia in these patients, reported Orlando Gutierrez, M.D., at the American Society of Nephrology meeting in November 2008. Gutierrez led a study involving 1,661 participants with kidney disease in 153 U.S. centers to determine the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and anemia. Overall, 41 percent of participants were anemic. The study found that the patients with the lowest vitamin D levels were ere 2.8 times more likely to be anemic than participants with the most vitamin D.

Anemia Symptoms

Having cold hands is just one symptom of anemia. The lack of oxygen due to reduced red blood cells tends to make anemic people tired. Pale skin, chest pain, dizziness, an irregular heart rate, shortness of breath, headache and cognitive issues are also signs and symptoms of anemia. If you have cold hands or any other symptom of anemia, see your physician.

Sources of Vitamin D

Increasing your vitamin D intake helps raise your levels if you are deficient. Vitamin D comes from four sources -- sunlight, natural foods, supplements or foods fortified with vitamin D. The best source of dietary vitamin D is cod liver oil, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, cod liver oil has high levels of vitamin A, which may become toxic over time. Salmon, tuna, herring, sardines and mackerel also have vitamin D naturally. Eggs are another source. Foods like milk and cereals sometimes have added vitamin D. Have your doctor check your vitamin D levels first to see if you are deficient. He can then tell you how much vitamin D you need and prescribe the right amount of supplements, if needed.