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What Are The Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency?

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Vitamin D is a necessary nutrient that aids in the absorption and usage of calcium. It also strengthens the immune system, teeth, bones, & muscles. However, due to inadequate exposure to sunlight, malabsorption, or accelerated breakdown of the nutrient, most people suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Let's get to know more about vitamin D, its benefits, causes of deficiency and how to prevent it.

What is Vitamin D Deficiency?

When the body does not get enough vitamin D (also called sunshine vitamin), it develops a vitamin D deficiency. Our skin contains a precursor of vitamin D (7-dehydrocholesterol), which, on exposure to sunlight, converts into vitamin D. Since many people do not receive enough sunshine and lack vitamin D-rich foods in their diet, they suffer from vitamin D deficiency. 

What are the Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency?

While some people may not experience any symptoms at all, vitamin D deficiency symptoms can vary widely.

1. Joint Pain

Weak bones are a prominent indicator of vitamin D deficiency and are also known as osteomalacia in adults. The absorption of calcium improves in the presence of vitamin D in the body. Therefore, low vitamin D levels interfere with the mineralization process, causing weak bones and joint pains. In children, vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, a disease marked by weak and malformed bones, stunted development, and bent legs.

2. Fatigue

A typical sign of vitamin D insufficiency is fatigue, both physical and mental. Even after a restful night's sleep, people with vitamin D deficiency frequently report feeling exhausted. Additionally, vitamin D deficient people could struggle with focus, lack of motivation, and mood changes. It is not clear yet why fatigue is caused by Vitamin D insufficiency. However, it is believed that fatigue can result due to insufficient ATP production in the body, in the absence of enough vitamin D. ATP is the source of energy that is used and stored in the body. 

3. Muscle Weakness

Vitamin D deficiency causes aches and pains in the muscles and joints. Some people may also experience muscular wasting, or the slow loss of muscular mass, in extreme cases. Muscle weakness can make it challenging for you to complete simple tasks that require coordination and physical power.

4. Impaired Wound Healing

Cathelicidin, a protein regulated by vitamin D, helps fight infections and aids in healing. According to studies, people with low vitamin D levels have a slower rate of wound healing and are more prone to developing infections. It is especially true for chronic lesions like diabetic foot ulcers and pressure ulcers. 

5. Hair Loss

A lack of vitamin D can also cause hair loss as hair follicles contain vitamin D receptors that aid in hair development and maintenance. A person can experience hair thinning, hair loss, and even baldness in the absence of vitamin D. While there are many potential causes of hair loss, such as heredity, stress, and hormonal changes, it's crucial to make sure your body is receiving enough vitamin D. 

6. Depression

A 2007 research indicated that vitamin D deficiency can play a major role in the development of depression. According to several other researchers, individuals who suffer from depression are more likely to be vitamin D deficient than those who are not depressed.  

Also read:   Your Weight Can Influence Vitamin D Absorption In Your Body! Know How

What are the Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Understanding the causes of vitamin D insufficiency is crucial to prevent and treat this condition. Some of the common causes include: 

1. Lack of exposure to sunlight: Not getting enough sunshine is one of the main reasons for vitamin D insufficiency. Those who spend most of their time indoors or in places with little to no sunshine are more likely to observe vitamin D deficiency.

2. Malabsorption of the vitamin: Medical diseases, including Crohn's disease and celiac disease, can hamper your ability to absorb vitamin D.

3. Other factors: Numerous other factors, such as pre-existing illnesses (diabetes & thyroid disorders), eating habits, and drugs, might contribute to vitamin D deficiency symptoms in adults and children. To prevent long-term health issues, it's critical to find and treat the source of vitamin D insufficiency.

What is the Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency?

The treatment of vitamin D deficiency include:

1. Supplements: Vitamin D and calcium supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, and liquid drops. You must ask the doctor for the right amount of dose as per your body requirements. 

2. Sun Exposure: Spending more time in the sun can help in improving vitamin D levels. It is advised to spend 10 to 15 minutes outside each day early in the morning. Do not step out in the sun in the middle of the day without wearing sunscreen.

3. Food sources: Vitamin D levels can be increased by including certain foods that are high in this vitamin in the diet. Food sources of vitamin D include: 

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified meals like cereal, and orange juice

How to Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency?

Ways to prevent vitamin D deficiency include:

1. Regular Check-up: Get your vitamin D levels checked routinely to ensure optimal levels of this nutrient.

2. Outdoor Activities: It is easier to maintain and boost vitamin D levels by spending time outdoors exercising, while absorbing sunlight.

3. Balanced Diet: Natural sources of vitamin D include cheese, fatty fish (such as salmon and tuna), egg yolks, and fatty meats. You can create a balanced diet by including vitamin D-rich food items in your daily meals.

4. Healthy Weight: The body's ability to absorb vitamin D is affected by excess body fat. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a healthy weight.

It is essential to prevent vitamin D deficiency to avoid long-term risks such as osteoporosis. Get enough sun exposure, eat foods high in vitamin D and take supplements, if required, to ensure optimal vitamin D levels in your body and prevent any deficiencies.


1. Does obesity influence the absorption of vitamin D?

Since Vitamin D is stored in adipose tissue, obesity can impact vitamin D levels. It can reduce the vitamin D absorption in the blood.

2. Does the risk of vitamin D insufficiency increase due to any medical condition?

Yes, several medical issues including liver or kidney dysfunctions, Crohn's disease, and celiac disease can affect the absorption of vitamin D in the body.

3. Is vitamin D overdose dangerous?

Excess intake of vitamin D through supplements can result in hypercalcaemia (buildup of calcium), nausea, vomiting & frequent urination. 

4. Does using sunscreen impact levels of vitamin D?

UV-B rays, which are required for the formation of vitamin D, can be blocked by a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF). You can go out in the sun early in the morning to reduce your exposure to harmful UV rays. 

5. What are the signs of vitamin D deficiency?

Joint pains, fatigue, hair loss, & slow wound healing are some of the common signs of vitamin D deficiency.


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.


General Health

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