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Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 25.04.2023 | 3 min read

There are many possible symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, although it is also possible to have no symptoms at all. Here in this article, Caidr will walk you through both what Vitamin D does, why it is so important and what the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are so that you can be on the lookout.

What is vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for your body to form strong bones and teeth, along with many other benefits. It helps your gut absorb calcium and phosphate which form part of your bones. It also helps muscles function correctly and can help boost your immune system.

What are the symptoms

If you do not get enough vitamin D, you may have no symptoms at first, or you might just feel a bit tired and achy. As vitamin D deficiency becomes severe or prolonged, bone pain or bone deformities can develop. For children, over time the long leg bones can permanently bend, making the legs look bowed, in a condition known as rickets. Bones are already set in adults, but prolonged severe vitamin D deficiency can cause a condition called osteomalacia (a problem where the bones become soft and sometimes deformed), where sufferers complain of bone pain and muscle weakness.

Caidr pharmacists' top tips

Vitamin D supplements available at the pharmacy or health food stores, and this usually comes in a version called vitamin D3, or colecalciferol. You can buy this on its own or combined with other vitamins such as calcium, or in multivitamins. If you are in a high-risk group or for anyone living in the UK in winter, you do not need to check vitamin D levels, you can just start taking supplements. If you are worried, you can get your levels checked in a blood test from a private clinic or lab.

Vitamin D comes as tablets, capsules, oral sprays or oral liquids. You can take it daily or at a higher dose weekly. It comes in a variety of strengths, depending on your personal preference.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that you maximise absorption by taking it with healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, eggs, or a dressing made with olive oil.

When should I see my doctor?

Vitamin D is considered safe for most people to take. If you take certain medications, you may need to check with your doctor before starting vitamin D. These include digoxin or so-called water tablets (diuretics) such as bendroflumethiazide, budesonide, indapamide and spironolactone.

You can speak to your local pharmacist or book a routine visit with your doctor if you are concerned you have vitamin D deficiency or have any symptoms.

Your doctor will ask you about your past medical history, any current symptoms and any risk factors for vitamin D deficiency. They may do a general examination and give you advice. You are recommended to eat a broad balanced diet, and if you are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency then you may not need to do a blood test but just take vitamin D supplementation.

If you do test and your vitamin D level is slightly lower than normal (‘vitamin D insufficiency’), or it is the winter months, or you are in a group that is higher risk (any heritage other than white caucasian, or live in a country with low sunshine exposure such as the UK), your doctor will suggest you buy supplements yourself. If your doctor advises a test, and it shows a severe vitamin D deficiency then your doctor will prescribe you vitamin D supplementation, this will be a higher amount than people who are taking vitamin D for maintenance in the winter months.

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