Vitamin D Deficiency

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What is vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency is when you don’t have enough vitamin D in your body to be healthy. Vitamin D is responsible for keeping your bones, muscles, and teeth healthy, supporting your immune system, and maintaining the balance of electrolytes in your body. Low levels of vitamin D can cause symptoms like fatigue, abdominal pain, headaches, muscle aches and bone pain, and low mood (depression). Severe vitamin D deficiency can cause problems with bone development in children and it adults it causes  reduced bone density making bones more brittle and likely to break. 

What does vitamin D deficiency feel like?

Many people with vitamin D deficiency don’t know they have it, as symptoms can be vague, and are often put down to other factors like getting older, stress, or overwork. 

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include: 

  • Muscle aches 
  • Bone pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Low mood
  • Difficulty  sleeping
  • Sweating more than usual, especially from the head 
  • Hair loss
  • Slow wound healing 
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Weight gain 
  •  Getting ill more often than usual
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Headaches

When to see a doctor

If you have some, or all of the above symptoms, or feel you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, make an appointment and speak to GP. You are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency if you:

  • Are over 65 or under 4 years of age
  • Have darker skin
  • Spend a lot of time indoors
  • Wear clothes that cover most of your skin
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have a condition that affects you absorbing food, or problems with your liver or kidneys

Patients from the Indian sub-continent are particularly at risk as many have a combination of darker skin, a more indoor-lifestyle, wear more modest clothing, and may have dietary habits which can worsen vitamin-D deficiency. 

You can make a same-day online GP appointment with Medicspot or check your vitamin D levels at home with a quick and easy home test kit.

How to correct vitamin D deficiency

There are 3 main ways to increase your levels of vitamin D. 

  • Increase your exposure to sunlight
  • Dietary changes 
  • Supplements 

Vitamin D from sunlight

In the UK it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from sunlight, especially in the winter months between October and March. A range of sources including NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)  suggests that If you have fair skin, you’ll need on average 10 to 30 minutes of natural sun exposure a day to make enough vitamin D, more if you have darker skin. Be aware that prolonged sun exposure can damage your skin and cause skin cancer, so check with your GP or healthcare provider before exposing your skin to the sun. Please note this advice is for natural sunlight only, not sunbeds.

Vitamin D from food

Getting enough vitamin D from your diet can be difficult as it isn’t found in many foods. Some dietary sources of vitamin D include: 

  • Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, or herring
  • Red meat and liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified foods like some breakfast cereals and spreads

Vitamin D supplements

Taking a daily vitamin D supplement can be a good way to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D. The recommended dose for most people is 10mcg (400IU) a day, but your doctor may prescribe a different dose. Always take your vitamin D supplement exactly as directed. Do not exceed the dose of Vitamin D as this can make you unwell.

What if I take too much vitamin D?

Taking too much vitamin D can cause a build-up of calcium in the body (hypercalcaemia) that can lead to problems with your heart, bones, and kidneys. Adults and children over 11 years of age should not take more than 100mcg (4,000 IU) of vitamin D a day. Children under 10 should not take more than 50mcg (2,000 IU) a day.  If you think you may have taken too much vitamin D, seek immediate medical attention. 

You can help maintain optimal vitamin D levels by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This includes: 

  • Maintaining a healthy weight. Studies have shown a link between obesity and vitamin D deficiency.
  • Spending more time outside.
  • Reducing stress. Stress triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol which can reduce your body`s ability to use vitamin D.
  • Eating healthily. A balanced diet is vital for your overall health and eating plenty of healthy vitamin D-rich foods like oily fish and egg yolks can help boost your levels of vitamin D. 
  • Not smoking. Smoking can reduce some of the benefits of vitamin D including strengthening your immune system and reducing inflammation. 

Not drinking too much alcohol. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is linked to low levels of vitamin D, so stick to safe limits.

Online GP appointments for vitamin D deficiency

If you are worried you may have vitamin D deficiency, you can make a same-day online GP appointment at Medicspot for only £49. Consultations are by video at a time and place that suits you. Our GPs will ask about your age, general health, lifestyle, any medications you are taking, and your symptoms. They can then recommend further tests or prescribe any necessary treatment. 

Alternatively, you can check your vitamin D levels at home with a quick and easy home test kit from Medicspot for just £19.99.

Can a pharmacist help with vitamin D deficiency?

Your pharmacist can help with vitamin D deficiency by recommending over-the-counter supplements and giving advice about your diet and lifestyle. However, the only way to measure your vitamin D levels is to measure them in a test

Home tests for vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is diagnosed with a blood test called a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test which measures the amount of vitamin D in your blood. 

A result of over 50 nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL) means you have enough vitamin D in your body. A result between 30 and 50 ng/mL is considered insufficient. Less than 30ng/mL is diagnosed as vitamin D deficiency. 

Are there home tests for Vitamin D Deficiency?

Yes. You can buy a rapid home test for vitamin D deficiency at Medicspot for just £19.99. We recommend booking a video GP consultation with one of our GPs to discuss your test results and any necessary treatment. 

How do home tests work?

Ordering a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test from Medicspot is quick, easy, and reliable. The results are fast (10 minutes) with no need to send your sample to a lab to wait for your results. 

Simply order your test online and complete the test using a drop of blood from your finger. If you have booked a consultation with a GP you will be sent a code by email to arrange an appointment.


NHS: Vitamin D August 3rd, 2020 (Accessed 1st August 2022)  

Patient: Vitamin D deficiency. Causes, symptoms, and treatment 3rd February 2022 (Accessed 1st August 2022)  

PubMed: Vitamin D Deficiency: Consequence or Cause of Obesity? September 2019 (Accessed 1st August 2022)  

The Lancet: Association between vitamin D status and lifestyle factors in Brazilian women: Implications of sun exposure levels, diet, and health May 1st, 2022 (Accessed 1st August 2022) 

PubMed:  Vitamin D Deficiency, Smoking, and Lung Function in the Normative Aging Study October 1st, 2012 (Accessed 1st August 2022)

PubMed: Is vitamin D deficiency a confounder in alcoholic skeletal muscle myopathy? January 2013  (Accessed 1st August 2022)

NICE: Overview of sunlight exposure messages, page 7 July 2014 (Accessed 11th August 2022)

Cleveland Clinic: Vitamin D Deficiency February 8th, 2022 (Accessed 11th August 2022)

NICE: Scenario: Management of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency January 2022 (Accessed 11th August, 2022)