Vitamin D Deficiency: Signs and Symptoms

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Get some early morning Sun! It’s good for your bones!”. We have heard this from our elders over the years, not realising how important their advice is.

Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, simply because we absorb it throughout skin, when we expose ourselves to early morning sunlight. It helps your body absorb calcium, reducing the risk of deficiency which can lead to osteoporosis (low bone density) and becoming prone to fractures (broken bones or mild cracks).

While traditionally it was always associated with bone strength, studies on vitamin D show that it is equally important for cell proliferation, differentiation and immune function. It is an important factor in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, certain types of cancers, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and even psychiatric diseases. Sufficient intake of Vitamin D, along with other supplements, is very crucial for pregnant women.

The quantity and quality of sunlight are both equal contributors to substantial vitamin D absorption. Due to higher levels of pollution, the UV light of 290–300-nm wavelength gets filtered out, leading to higher rates of deficiency in urban populations.

Though not very easy to get naturally as some other nutrients, your body naturally makes some vitamin D when you are in the sun, and when you consume foods like fish, egg yolks, and fortified yoghurt, mushrooms, fortified milk, fortified soya products, as well as supplements.

Deficiency in this vital vitamin occurs when your body doesn’t get or process adequate amounts of vitamin D. Other low vitamin D symptoms include muscle weakness and cramps, hair loss, and tiredness or fatigue. It is often not diagnosed right away, because it either produces no symptoms, or its symptoms overlap with many other health conditions. When symptoms show up, an orthopaedic doctor may recommend a bone density test, among other things, to identify the root cause.

The good news is that vitamin D deficiency is relatively easy to treat with supplements, once your healthcare provider identifies it.

What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Signs and symptoms in adults include:

  • Fatigue and Tiredness
  • Muscle Pain and Weakness
  • Muscle aches or muscle cramps
  • Mood changes, like depression
  • Bone Fractures and Osteoporosis
  • Hair Loss
  • Eczema
  • Gum Disease and Tooth Loss
  • UTIs, Incontinence
  • Sleep problems

Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women has been found to be associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, preterm birth, and other tissue-specific conditions.

Severe lack of vitamin D in children causes rickets. Symptoms of rickets include:

  • Incorrect growth patterns due to bowed or bent bones
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Deformities in joints (This is very rare.)
  • Children with a mild vitamin deficiency may just have weak, sore and/or painful muscles.

The best way to improve vitamin D levels is consuming nutrient-rich foods, taking early morning walks, or sitting in the morning sun in order to expose your skin and absorbing this essential nutrient.

Simultaneously, it is always good to speak to your general physician about measures to improve your vitamin D, through foods and supplements.

To Schedule an Appointment to Get Back on the Path to Better Health, Call 1860 500 4424

Dr. Haritha Reddy
Consultant – Obstetrics & Gynecology
Hyderabad – Kondapur