A person may not realize that they have a vitamin D deficiency, but there are some symptoms to look out for.
This article explores the signs and symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, as well as possible complications, treatments, and when to see a doctor.
Vitamin D is important for health. Some of its roles in the body
- helping with the absorption of calcium
- maintaining healthy bones
- regulating genes and cell growth
- preventing rickets and osteoporosis
- modulating the immune system
Vitamin D is naturally present in very
According to a
The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is highest among older adults, people with obesity, and people in hospitals and other care facilities.
Frequent infections or illnesses
Vitamin D helps support the immune system — it
It can also help
Fatigue and muscle weakness
Because vitamin D is key to bone health, an insufficient amount can cause bone and muscle weakness, which can lead to fatigue.
Researchers behind a
Bone and joint pain
Vitamin D can
Joint pain could also result from issues such as rheumatoid arthritis. A
Adequate vitamin D in the body helps maintain bone strength by supporting the absorption of calcium.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, this is particularly important for females after menopause, which can cause bone density to decrease and the risk of osteoporosis to increase.
If someone has a fracture, the doctor might test their vitamin D level, depending on the person’s age and health history.
The authors of a 2019 review have found that lower levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of depression.
There are vitamin D receptors in the brain, and the research indicates that the vitamin has a protective anti-inflammatory effect.
As a result, the scientists conclude, a person with very low vitamin D levels and depression may benefit from taking a supplement of the vitamin.
Slow wound healing
If wounds take longer than usual to heal, it might be a sign of low vitamin D levels.
Results of an
Another study has found that people with leg ulcers were more likely to have vitamin D deficiencies. Those who took 50,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D every week for 2 months experienced better wound healing, the researchers observed.
The deficiency can develop at an early age. In response, U.S. health authorities mandate that infant formula is fortified with
Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in children include:
- bone pain or fractures
- deformities of the teeth
- developmental delays
A vitamin D deficiency can lead to further health issues.
Rickets develops from a vitamin D deficiency, and it is rare in the U.S.
The condition tends to occur in babies and preschool-age children, though it can arise in older kids. It affects the development of the bones, wrists, knees, and joints in the ribs, and it can cause bowing of the legs.
Doctors treat rickets with vitamin D supplements and by ensuring that there is enough calcium in the diet.
An older review found that low vitamin D levels are linked to other conditions that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease — conditions such as hypertension and metabolic syndrome.
Vitamin D is a natural immune modulator, and
- type 1 diabetes
- multiple sclerosis
- rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn’s disease
The National Institute for Health and Care Management have the following guidelines for doctors about managing vitamin D deficiencies:
- Recommend treatment if a person’s vitamin D level is under 25 nanomoles per liter (nmol/l).
- Recommend treatment if the level is 25–50 nmol/l, and there are other indications of the deficiency.
- If the level is adequate (above 50 nmol/l), give advice about how to prevent the deficiency.
Adults with vitamin D deficiency
When a blood test shows that the person’s level of vitamin D has adequately increased, the doctor may recommend a 2,000 IU daily maintenance dosage.
They may also suggest a calcium supplement and give other dietary and lifestyle advice.
It can help to ensure that the diet includes plenty of vitamin D. Below are some foods that contain
|Food source||Portion size||Percentage of daily value|
|Cod liver oil||1 tablespoon||170|
|Cooked rainbow trout||3 ounces||81|
|Cooked sockeye salmon||3 ounces||71|
|White mushrooms exposed to UV light||0.5 cup||46|
|Fortified 2% milk||1 cup||15|
Supplements and fortified foods contain vitamins D-2 or D-3.
Manufacturers use fungi and yeasts to manufacture D-2, and this form is suitable for people on a vegan diet. They use lanolin from sheep wool to produce D-3.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of vitamin D deficiency should speak to a doctor.
Many people have no symptoms but can find out if they have adequate levels with a simple blood test.
Vitamin D deficiency is common, and people may not realize that they have it.
Anyone with symptoms of the deficiency should see a doctor. Also, it is important to consult a healthcare provider before taking supplements that would exceed the recommended daily intake.