14 Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

Reviewed on 6/22/2022
14 Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is usually treated with supplements.

The goals of treating and preventing the lack of vitamin D are the same. It is to reach and keep an adequate level of vitamin D in the body. Your healthcare provider will let you know how long you need to continue vitamin D supplements.

Eating more foods that contain vitamin D daily helps regulate vitamin D levels. Keep in mind that foods alone usually don't meet the daily recommended levels of vitamin D. An optimal physical activity is essential to make sure vitamin D is absorbed into the bone tissue.

14 vitamin D deficiency signs

Fourteen signs of vitamin D deficiency include:

  1. Aching muscles: They can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency because this nutrient is essential for keeping your muscles healthy. Without vitamin D, your muscles may become weak and achy.
  2. Binge eating: A sign of vitamin D deficiency is binge eating. Impaired satiety and the tendency to overeat are often seen in people who have low vitamin D levels.
  3. Painful bones: These can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency because vitamin D is essential for keeping your bones healthy. Without vitamin D, your bones may become weak and painful.
  4. Fatigue: It can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency because vitamin D is essential for cell metabolism. Without vitamin D, you may feel tired and run down all the time. This can make it difficult to get through your day-to-day activities.
  5. Reduced endurance: Without vitamin D, you may find it difficult to maintain your energy levels during physical activities. This can limit your ability to participate in physical activities and may lead to premature fatigue.
  6. Low moods: These may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency because vitamin D is essential for keeping your moods stable because it may have a role in neurotransmitter metabolism (especially serotonin). Without vitamin D, you may find it difficult to maintain your positive outlook on life and may experience frequent mood swings.
  7. Problems sleeping well: This can be a sign of low vitamin D levels for a few reasons. Vitamin D may influence the brain areas and neural paths that regulate the sleep-wake cycle. 
  8. Losing hair: This can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency because this nutrient is essential for the follicular cycle in the hair. Without adequate vitamin D, the new hair does not emerge from the hair follicles. 
  9. Slow wound healing: One potential sign that you may be deficient in vitamin D is that your wounds heal slowly. This is because vitamin D is essential for immune system functions.
  10. Dizziness: This can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency because, in the absence of vitamin D, the bones become weak. A weak cervical spine can cause dizziness.
  11. Heart problems: Low levels of vitamin D can lead to an increased risk of heart disease because this nutrient is essential for keeping your heart cells healthy, and without it, you may be at a greater risk of heart disease.
  12. Weight gain: This can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency because this nutrient is essential for keeping your metabolism stable. Without vitamin D, your metabolism may slow down, and you may find it difficult to lose weight
  13. Recurring infections: These can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency because this nutrient is essential for keeping your immune system up to date. Vitamin D has a role in white blood cell metabolism.
  14. Reduced cognitive function: One potential sign that you may be deficient in vitamin D is that your cognitive function (memory) may be affected. This is because vitamin D is essential for keeping your brain healthy, and without it, you may find it difficult to think clearly or remember things. This can make it difficult to do everyday activities, such as driving or cooking.

12 causes of vitamin D deficiency

Although there’s no single cause for deficiency, your overall risk may be higher as a result of certain underlying conditions or lifestyle factors. Some of the most common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency are having dark skin.

Twelve causes of vitamin D deficiency include:

  1. Having a darker complexion
  2. Staying in areas that receive little or no sun
  3. Being older
  4. Being overweight or obese
  5. Not eating enough fish or dairy (vegan lifestyle)
  6. Living far from the equator or in regions with little sunlight round the year
  7. Staying or working indoors
  8. Working overnight shifts
  9. Having chronic kidney disease, liver disease, or hyperparathyroidism
  10. Having a health condition that affects nutrient absorption, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease 
  11. Having gastric bypass surgery 
  12. Using certain medications that affect vitamin D metabolisms, such as statins and steroids 

People who live near the equator and get frequent sun exposure are less likely to have a deficiency because their skin produces enough vitamin D.

Some medications that can cause vitamin D deficiency include:

Always tell your healthcare professional about the drugs and any vitamin D supplements or other supplements or herbs/alternative health products that you take.

SLIDESHOW

Vitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough? See Slideshow

How to diagnose vitamin D deficiency

Your healthcare professional can order a blood test to measure your levels of vitamin D.

Two types of tests may be ordered that include:

  1. 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25-OH D) or calcidiol
  2. 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D or calcitriol

The most common test for vitamin D deficiency is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test because 25-hydroxy, or calcidiol, has higher concentrations and stays in your blood longer, which makes it easier to detect.

Moreover, you may be able to take an at-home test in which you collect a small drop of blood yourself through a simple finger prick. These tests are accessible and convenient, and your healthcare professional helps you understand the results.

What are the treatment options for vitamin D deficiency?

Although your body can synthesize vitamin D when exposed to the sun, this method is no longer recommended due to the erratic nature of absorption and the risk of skin cancer on being exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D deficiency is usually treated with supplements. If a healthcare professional finds that you have a deficiency, they may recommend the following options.

Oral supplements

Oral supplements are the main treatment option for vitamin D deficiency. You can easily buy these over the counter but should ask a doctor for dosage recommendations.

Magnesium helps activate vitamin D, so you can take this mineral. For severe deficiency, a doctor may recommend a prescription with vitamin D, which comes in much stronger doses of up to 50,000 IU. Your doctor may consider vitamin D injections.

Dietary changes

Eat more vitamin D-rich foods such as:

  • Fatty fish
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified milk and juices
  • Yogurt
  • Beef liver
  • Other dairy products, such as yogurt
  • Soy drinks

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References
Image Source: iStock image

Vitamin D Deficiency: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d--vitamin-d-deficiency

vitamin D Deficiency: https://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/vitamin-d-deficiency

vitamin D Deficiency: https://medlineplus.gov/vitaminddeficiency.html

vitamin D Deficiency: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532266/

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