Vitamin D deficiency: The ‘common’ symptoms of a deficiency – sensations and infections

Lorraine: Dr Amir says spine could shrink if deficient in vitamin D

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Hypovitaminosis D – otherwise known as a vitamin D deficiency – is the “most common nutritional deficiency worldwide”, experts at Ada Health reported. Here’s what to look out for. There can be physical signs of a vitamin D deficiency, as well as the rise of infections and the development of telling sensations. Considered “common” symptoms of the condition, physical signs can include:

  • Hair loss
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Bones more prone to fractures.

As for bodily sensations, one might experience bone and muscle pain, fatigue, and depressed mood.

Moreover, a person with a vitamin D deficiency is more prone to bacterial and viral infections.

Vitamin D

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explained vitamin D is “produced endogenously when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis”.

Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure – as well as foods and supplements – must undergo two “hydroxylations” in the body for activation.

To elaborate, the first hydroxylation occurs in the liver whereby vitamin D is transformed into 25-hydroxyvitamin D (also known as calcidiol).

Secondly, the second hydroxylation occurs primarily in the kidney and forms the physiologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D; this is known as calcitriol.

Vitamin D helps to promote calcium absorption in the gut, enabling normal bone mineralisation, preventing cramps and spasms.

Furthermore, vitamin D is needed for bone strength, helping to prevent osteomalacia in adults (i.e. the softening of the bones that lead to fractures).

Vitamin D also plays a role in reducing inflammation, modulates cell growth, and improves immune function.

While vitamin D can also be obtained from the flesh of fatty fish, such as trout, few foods naturally contain the nutrient.

Therefore, the NHS advises people to take daily vitamin D supplements – and some people could benefit from taking them all year round.

People with darker skin, for instance, would benefit from taking vitamin D supplements daily.

Those who are often indoors, or usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin while outdoors, would also benefit from vitamin D supplements every day throughout the year.

The NHS recommends adults to take 10mcg (micrograms) of vitamin D supplements daily.

Children over the age of one are also advised to have 10mcg of vitamin D daily.

Babies, on the other hand, require 8.5mcg to 10mcg of vitamin D daily.

“You can buy vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D (for under fives) at most pharmacies and supermarkets,” the NHS added.

The health organisation did caution that more is not always better, especially when it comes to vitamin D.

People are advised not to take more than 100mcg of vitamin D daily as it could be “harmful”.

For instance, too much vitamin D can lead to hypercalcaemia, which can damage the kidneys and heart.

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