Claudia Jackson (RN)
Dr Adam Abbs
Next Review: Sep 1, 2025
Functions of Vitamin D02
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?03
What happens when vitamin D is extremely low?04
Can low vitamin D cause headaches?05
Can low vitamin D cause breathlessness?06
Can low vitamin D cause menstrual problems?07
Articles related to Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin D is a nutrient that is vital for our bodies to work properly.
Around 90 to 95% of vitamin D is made by our bodies when exposed to sunlight, while the rest is found in food sources such as oily fish, egg yolks, and red meat.
Functions of Vitamin D
- Helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus, minerals vital for healthy muscles, teeth and bones.
- May (it is not fully understood) boost your immune system, control infections, and reduce inflammation
- May protect against some chronic conditions like osteoporosis, and depression.
It’s important to have the right levels of vitamin D in our bodies as having too much or not enough can lead to health problems.
Vitamin D deficiency is common, especially people over the age of 50 and those with darker skin. Because the body needs sunlight to make vitamin D, deficiency is more common in the winter months and in those who spend a lot of time indoors or cover their skin with modest clothing.
Let`s take a look at the symptoms of low vitamin D, some health problems caused by low vitamin D, and how you can check your levels of vitamin D at home.
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency often goes undiagnosed as symptoms can be vague, take a long time to develop, and may resemble symptoms of other conditions. You may experience all or some of the vitamin D deficiency symptoms listed below, or you may have no symptoms at all.
Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:
- Muscle aches —may include muscle pain, weakness, or cramps.
- Bone pain —vitamin D is important for strong bones and bones and bone pain is a common symptom of vitamin D deficiency.
- Fatigue and reduced endurance — vitamin D deficiency can cause extreme tiredness and lack of energy not relieved by rest. You may not have enough energy for day-to-day activities.
- Low mood— may include feeling sad, angry, or anxious.
- Problems sleeping —may include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or poor quality sleep.
- Excessive sweating—low levels of vitamin D may cause you to sweat more than usual, especially from the head.
- Losing hair —vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common causes of thinning hair and hair loss (alopecia) in both men and women.
- Slow wound healing —Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to slower wound healing, though more research is needed.
- Dizziness —people with vitamin D deficiency may experience episodes of severe dizziness.
- Weight gain—A 2015 review found a link between vitamin D deficiency and being overweight or obese, though the reasons for this are not clear.
- Reduced cognitive function —vitamin D is important for brain function and low levels have been linked to poor memory, low mood, and depression.
What happens when vitamin D is extremely low?
Severe vitamin D deficiency can cause loss of bone density, making your bones fragile and more likely to break. In children, this can cause conditions such as rickets (where bones become soft and may become deformed). Severe vitamin D deficiency in adults can lead to osteomalacia (soft bones) and osteoporosis (brittle bones).
Can low vitamin D cause headaches?
Studies have shown that the majority of people suffering from regular headaches have vitamin D deficiency. These studies appear to show a strong link between low levels of vitamin D and migraine, but the reasons for this are not clear. More studies are needed to look at the link between vitamin D deficiency and other types of headaches.
Can low vitamin D cause breathlessness?
Vitamin D deficiency can decrease exercise tolerance. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that affects the lungs, is more common in people with vitamin D deficiency, especially in people who smoke.
Can low vitamin D cause menstrual problems?
A 2018 study looked at 77 women, half with low levels of vitamin D and half with normal levels. The results showed that women with low levels of vitamin D were almost 5 times more likely to have menstrual (period) problems than those with normal levels. Of the women in the low vitamin D group, 40% experienced longer periods, 27% had lighter, infrequent periods (oligomenorrhea), and 13% had no periods (amenorrhea). Vitamin D may also help with period pain by reducing the production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins which are known to trigger menstrual cramps.
The importance of vitamin D for our health is still not fully understood, and research continues into how vitamin D is used by the body. But some studies and the experience of lots of doctor and patients suggests that Vitamin D is essential for the healthy functioning of many systems in teh body, so a deficiency can cause many problems. Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem worldwide, and one that often goes undiagnosed and untreated. If you have vitamin D deficiency, treatment is simple and can improve your quality of life and reduce your risk of many diseases.
It’s easy to check your vitamin D levels at home with a simple at-home vitamin D test. The test is quick and easy, requires a single drop of blood and the results take around 10 minutes. It costs just £19.99 including free delivery.
An at-home test may be a good idea if:
- You have symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
- You are in a high-risk group such as over 50, from the Indian subcontinent or Sub-Saharan Africa, or spend a lot of time indoors.
- You have had low levels of vitamin D, or vitamin D deficiency in the past and would like to check your levels.
We recommend buying a combined test and follow-up online GP consultation by video link to discuss your results and any necessary treatment.
PubMed: Effect of Vitamin D Deficiency on the Frequency of Headaches in Migraine July 14th, 2018 (Accessed July 27th, 2022)
NICE: Scenario: Management of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency January 2022 (Accessed August 11th, 2022)
PubMed: The Role of Vitamin D in Primary Headache–from Potential Mechanism to Treatment January 12th, 2020 (Accessed July 27th, 2022)
BMC Pulmonary Medicine: Vitamin D deficiency is associated with respiratory symptoms and airway wall thickening in smokers with and without COPD: a prospective cohort study May 4th, 2020 (Accessed July 27th, 2022)
PubMed: The Relationship between Vitamin D Status and the Menstrual Cycle in Young Women: A Preliminary Study November 10th, 2018 (Accessed July 27th, 2022)
Harvard School of Public Health: The nutrition source: Vitamin D January 2022 (Accessed July 27th, 2022)
Healthline: Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, causes, and treatments. March 10th, 2022 (Accessed July 27th, 2022)
Wiley Online Library: Obesity and vitamin D deficiency: a systematic review and meta-analysis February 17th, 2015 (Accessed July 28th, 2022)
PubMed: Vitamin D and cardiovascular health May 2021 (Accessed July 27th, 2022)
PubMed: The Role of Vitamin D in Prevention and Treatment of Infection July 11th, 2013 (Accessed July 28th, 2022)
Science Direct: Vitamin D Production after UVB Exposure Depends on Baseline Vitamin D and Total Cholesterol but Not on Skin Pigmentation February 2nd 2010 (Accessed July 28th, 2022)