Vitamin D is produced naturally in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Vitamin D actually functions as a steroid hormone in the body, where it can influence the activity of various genes, turning them on or off.
I’ve written quite a bit about Vitamin D before, but in this article I will go into detail about Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms.
If you would like more info on Vitamin D, check out some of my other posts on the subject:
- Vitamin D function and health benefits
- Causes of Low Vitamin D levels
- What does Vitamin D do for the body
I would like to divide Vitamin D deficiency symptoms into two categories: short-term symptoms and long-term symptoms.
The short term symptoms are the ones you might be experiencing today, affecting your daily life. The long term symptoms may not show up until old age.
Short term Vitamin D deficiency symptoms
Rickets: Rickets is caused by a deficiency in Vitamin D, calcium or phosphorus.
It used to be a common symptom of vitamin d deficiency but has not been a major problem since food manufacturers started fortifying milk and other foods with small doses of Vitamin D.
Depression: There is some evidence to show that low Vitamin D levels have an association with depression. Studies have shown that Vitamin D3 can alleviate seasonal depression during winter months.
Weakened immune system: Most cells in the body contain receptor sites for Vitamin D and these include immune system cells.
Vitamin D has been shown to enhance the activity of those cells, and to decrease chances of developing autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis.
Mysterious health issues: Vitamin D has many varied effects on the cells in the body, and if you have any mysterious health issues then you should have a blood test done to make sure you are not Vitamin D deficient.
Long term symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
Osteoporosis: An important role of Vitamin D is regulating calcium absorption in the digestive tract and calcium balance in the bones.
Weakened and brittle bones are common symptoms of deficiency, where severe cases end with osteoporosis.
Cancer: Many research studies have found an association of Vitamin D deficiency with various forms of cancer.
This makes the recommendation to avoid sun exposure to reduce chances of skin cancer seem questionable, since avoiding the sun and therefore lowering vitamin d levels may increase risk of other forms of cancer.
Heart Disease: Higher Vitamin D levels have been shown to have a favourable effect on cardiovascular disease.
One study found that older adults who were Vitamin D deficient had twice the chances of developing cardiovascular disease (the #1 killer) compared to those who had adequate levels.
If you would like more info on research regarding Vitamin D, I recommend you take a look at the Vitamin D Council’s Research Section.
There are many other health issues that have been associated with low Vitamin D levels, including: muscle weakness, obesity, fatigue, chronic pain, cognitive impairment in older adults, increased risk of bone fractures, diabetes, and many more.
Correcting Vitamin D levels alone is probably not going to completely fix the above symptoms, but it sure might help.
There is a high risk of a deficiency in Vitamin D for people who live in northern areas where sun is not abundant year round.
People may not even know they are deficient since these vitamin d deficiency symptoms may often be subtle and perhaps never noticed until in old age, when there is an increased chance of developing serious illnesses.
The only way to know for sure if you are deficient or not is to have your doctor do a blood test for 25(OH)D. If your levels are below 30ng/ml then you have a deficiency.
In that case, increasing sun exposure or taking Vitamin D3 as a supplement can get your levels back to normal.