Three signs a vitamin D deficiency has gone on too long

Dr Ellie on why people should be taking Vitamin D supplements

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The NHS explains that vitamin D “helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body”. Government advice states that “everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter”. As the body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin, on overcast, dreary and dark days, you might not be getting any vitamin D at all.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) warned of vitamin D deficiency.

Health complications from a vitamin D deficiency include osteomalacia, osteoporosis, and fragility fractures.


Versus Arthritis says “osteomalacia is the name of a condition where bones become soft and weak”.

Bone is a living tissue, the charity explains, which means old bone cells are continuously being replaced with new bone cells.

Inside the bone, there’s the “matrix”, which is a soft, light structure.

The matrix is protected by layers of calcium and phosphorus that form the outer shell.

“Vitamin D controls levels of calcium and phosphorus in your body,” Versus Arthritis states.

“For example, vitamin D will help your body take calcium out of food so it can be used to make bones strong.”

Without an adequate supply of vitamin D, there will be less calcium and phosphorus available to create a strong protective outer bone shell.

Soft and weak bones are more prone to painful fractures, such as from a fall or simple knocks.

There are other warning signs of osteomalacia, which can include:

  • Pain felt in the bones and joints
  • Muscle pain and weakness, particularly following exercise
  • Difficulty walking and a change in how you walk – possibly with a waddle
  • Muscle cramps
  • Pins and needles in the hands and feet because of low calcium levels.

“Most people with osteomalacia will recover with treatment,” the charity assures.

“However, it can take months for bones to recover and for muscles to become strong again.”


Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle, the Mayo Clinic points out.

Mild movements, such as bending over or coughing, could lead to a broken bone if you develop this condition.

Most commonly, fractures occur in the hip, wrist or spine when you have osteoporosis.

Symptoms of osteoporosis can include:

  • Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
  • Loss of height over time
  • A stooped posture
  • A bone that breaks much more easily than expected.
  • Fragility fractures
  • NICE said fragility fractures refer to broken bones caused by “low-level trauma”.

“Osteoporotic fragility fractures can cause substantial pain and severe disability,” NICE warned.

If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, speak to your GP who can arrange a blood test.

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