Vitamin D is a pretty big deal. It helps our bodies absorb and regulate calcium and phosphorus – nutrients which are both critical for maintaining healthy bones, healthy hearts, and healthy immune systems.
It also supports our ability to heal from illnesses and injuries - and is even thought to reduce cancer cell growth. Not getting enough has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and other serious health problems - so making sure you’re getting the right level is quite important.
The good news is that between March and September you’re probably getting enough of it from just going out and about in the sunshine – because your body creates it just from direct sunlight on your skin. Pretty clever. But during the Winter months (especially in the UK) you might not be able to make enough of it…
Here’s 7 signs to look out for that might mean you’re starting to suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency.
One of the first things you’re likely to notice is feeling tired all the time. A lack of Vitamin D can cause you to feel fatigue - tiredness that doesn’t go away even if you get more rest. To make things even harder, a lack of Vitamin D can seriously affect the quality of sleep you get, too.
2. Bone and back pain
Because Vitamin D improves your body’s absorption of calcium which you need for healthy bones, not having enough of it can cause bone pain – particularly in the legs and lower back. It can even lead to bone weakness (osteoporosis) or softening, commonly known as rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults.
3. Muscle pain
Feeling weak or getting muscle cramps – again particularly in the legs – can also be a sign of a Vitamin D deficiency. So if you’ve got aches and pains without even having been to the gym, it’s worth thinking about whether Vitamin D could be the culprit.
4. Getting sick more easily and not healing well
If you find yourself picking up viruses or infections one after another, or getting cuts and scrapes that just aren’t healing as quickly as they usually do, it’s another sign that you could have low Vitamin D levels.
5. Hair loss
Hair loss, particularly in women, has been linked to low Vitamin D. If you notice your hair thinning or falling out, especially in conjunction with other symptoms, it’s worth thinking about Vitamin D.
6. Weight gain
Possibly associated with a lack of energy, weight gain – particularly around the belly - can also be a symptom of Vitamin D deficiency.
7. Depression and Anxiety
Low mood, depression and anxiety are all fairly common symptoms of not getting enough Vitamin D. If you’re struggling with your mood for several weeks or more, it’s probably time to take it to a GP and ask about whether your diet and in particular your Vitamin D levels could be playing a part.
How to check if you’re getting enough Vitamin D
While getting enough Vitamin D is important, having too much can also be bad for you – so it’s actually important to get yourself checked out properly.
You can find out if you’re making enough Vitamin D with a simple blood test.
You can ask your own GP for a test, or all Equipsme members (except for those on GP+) can get an annual Vitamin D test to do at home through our health check partners Thriva.
Find out more about Thriva home health-checks
How to get more Vitamin D
You can get more Vitamin D through your diet, with Vitamin D rich foods including things like oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified breakfast cereals. But the NHS also recommends that all adults in the UK should probably be taking a Vitamin D supplement between September and March. Children over 1 year and adults need 10 micrograms of Vitamin D a day.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D – NHS
Vitamin D - Healthline