14 Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

14 Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D is vitally important to health and quality of life. It helps us absorb other vitamins and minerals including magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. Unfortunately, many don’t get enough vitamin D. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 1 billion individuals worldwide and 35% of adults in the United States are deficient in vitamin D. What are some of the signs of a possible vitamin D deficiency? Read on to find out.

infographic showing 14 signs of vitamin d deficiency
Man looks tired while working on his laptop and drinking coffee.

1. Feeling Low on Energy

One of the most common signs of low vitamin D is feeling tired all of the time.** This is a difficult sign to spot, since many factors can contribute to low energy such as lack of sleep. However, low vitamin D can sap energy levels since this vitamin supports the healthy function of the cell’s power center, mitochondria.

2. Bone and Joint Discomfort

Vitamin D is required for bones to absorb nutrients needed to create and maintain bone structure, such as calcium and phosphorus.* The ongoing process of bone remodeling uses up these nutrients on a regular basis, meaning without adequate nutrition, bone mass can decrease. Weakened bones can put pressure on surrounding joint structures and cause even further discomfort.

Woman with sore muscles massages her neck

3. Muscle Weakness

As mentioned, vitamin D is important for mitochondria function. Our muscles are powered by a chemical substance called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which utilizes mitochondria to assist in the process of creating this fuel. Studies suggest a lack of vitamin D may indirectly contribute to muscle weakness and spasms.**

4. Low Mood

When vitamin D enters the body, it is converted into a hormone-like substance that affects a wide range of bodily functions.* Vitamin D may play a role in the regulation of serotonin in the brain, which influences our outlook.* Adequate serotonin levels can promote a positive mood.

Woman looking in the mirror while brushing her hair.

5. Hair Loss

Vitamin D seems to support the differentiation of hair follicles which may promote healthy hair.** Limited studies show there is a possible connection to low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D within the blood and hair loss, but more research is needed.

6. Impaired Sleep

Did you know that low vitamin D may affect how well you sleep? This is due to vitamin D supporting the synthesis of melatonin.* Melatonin is a hormone made in the body that regulates sleep and wake cycles.

Man eating from a bowl, looking uninterested in his meal.

7. Loss of Appetite

For reasons not completely understood, some individuals may have a decrease in appetite when their vitamin D levels are low.* This could be due to a feeling of low mood which may suppress hunger in some people, but more studies are needed to explore the link between low vitamin D and loss of appetite.

8. Weakened Immune Function

Our immune system keeps harmful pathogens and other invaders in check with a sophisticated defense system made up of white blood cells. As more research is conducted on just how vitamin D affects the immune system, some scientific studies suggest that vitamin D may help modulate immune function by increasing immune cell count.*

9. Pale or sallow skin tone

Is your skin looking a little lackluster? Vitamin D supports collagen producing fibroblasts and other repair processes within the skin.*

10. A “Pins-and-Needles” Sensation in the Extremities

A study among young children demonstrated that nerve signals in those with adequate vitamin D levels were better than those with low vitamin D.* Other studies have also suggested a link between vitamin D and healthy nerve signaling.

11. Abnormal Gait 

One of the more interesting signs of low vitamin D is an abnormal gait or waddling style of walking. It is believed that weakened bone structure within the hip may lead to an adjustment in how you walk to compensate.* Taking in vitamin D is one way to promote stronger bones.* For the elderly population, a severe deficiency in vitamin D can increase the risk of falls.

12. Wounds Take a Long Time to Heal

Vitamin D aids in the wound healing process by encouraging the creation of substances called cathelicidins. Cathelicidins are essential to help protect the wound area while it heals.

13. A History of Broken Bones

This sign is one of the more obvious results of low vitamin D. Given its effect on maintaining strong bones, it is expected that low vitamin D would make one more susceptible to broken bones.*

14. Unexplained Weight Gain

There are many potential reasons for unexplained weight gain, however, one possibly overlooked factor could be insufficient vitamin D. Studies have delineated a connection between low vitamin D in the bloodstream and excess weight gain.** For reasons not completely understood, the body seems to store more fat when vitamin D is low.* Scientists have also observed that vitamin D is more likely to be sequestered within fat cells, leading to lower levels in the blood.* Taking vitamin D does not promote weight loss by itself, but it may help your metabolism function in a more optimal manner.*

Sources of Vitamin D

Certain lifestyle factors can affect your risk of vitamin D deficiency. If you spend most of your time indoors you receive less sunlight that can be converted to vitamin D. Similarly darker skin tones have higher levels of natural sun protection that can diminish vitamin D production. Some medications and even bariatric surgeries (weight loss) can influence the level of vitamin D in the body.

Because of the risks that come with sun exposure, it is a good idea to get your vitamin D from a variety of sources. To increase your vitamin D consider eating foods that are high in this nutrient. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines are all great options. Beef liver egg yolks and cod liver oil all have a high percentage of vitamin D. Mushrooms are the best plant-based choice for supporting vitamin D intake. Of course, supplements like Nature’s Lab Vitamin D3, Six Daily and Vitamin D3 Plus K2 are a convenient way to ensure your vitamin D levels are adequate. Find out the difference between Vitamin D2 and D3 in this article.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

** Limited scientific studies support this benefit.

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