Vitamin D deficiency: Three ‘often subtle’ signs which ‘might be down’ to low vitamin D

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Vitamin D is necessary for keeping bones and teeth healthy, so a lack of vitamin D can impact several areas. If you are spending a lot of time indoors, the NHS suggests you should take 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to keep your bones and muscles healthy. Indeed, falling short of the required amount could weaken immune defences.

Doctor Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi, has outlined some advice on how to keep a healthy level of vitamin D, on the site.

The doctor says that usually there are no symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, and “if they are present the signs are often subtle”.

These subtle signs can include getting illnesses or infections more often and wounds that heal slowly following surgery, infection or injury.

Some people also find that they are fatigued, have some hair loss, muscle pain, or bone or lower back pain, or have depression or low mood.

Symptoms can also include a waddling gait, chronic widespread pain or bone pain in the pelvis and foot.

Falling short of the required amount could weaken immune defences, but if low levels are left untreated, discomfort may also arise. Over-supplementation of vitamin D, however, can be just as harmful and should be avoided.

If you exceed the upper limit it can lead to feelings of nausea. Other signs you have taken too much include vomiting, muscle weakness, and loss of appetite.

The NHS says taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body which can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.

You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.

In April 2020, the NHS issued a statement, based on recommendations from Public Health England (PHE), that we should all consider taking 10 mcg/day vitamin D as a supplement, to keep our bones and muscles healthy.

This advice has been issued now, largely because of the restrictions imposed by quarantine and lockdown.

Nonetheless, the NHS says that in summer months, the majority of the population will get enough vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and a healthy, balanced diet.

Between October and early March the health body says we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight, so you need to get vitamin D from your diet.

Around 20 percent of adults may have low vitamin D status, and there are several main risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.

The NHS says risk factors include a lack of sunlight exposure, darker skin, being housebound, malabsorption, and being pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you or someone you care for is in a higher risk group they may need to take Vitamin D supplements.

You can take Vitamin D supplements as tablets, liquid or a spray, and they can be bought in a pharmacy.

The Cleveland Clinic says: “Do not take higher-than-recommended doses of vitamin D without first discussing it with your doctor.

“However, your doctor might recommend higher doses of vitamin D if he or she is checking your blood levels and adjusting your dose accordingly.

“Also, be cautious about getting large doses of vitamin A along with the D in some fish oils. Vitamin A can also reach toxic levels and can cause serious problems.”

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