15 Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency That Most People Ignore

The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency are easy to ignore, but they're also important to recognize. Are you getting enough sunshine in your day? Here are some of the obvious signs that you need more vitamin D.

Vitamin D can provide essential aid to your digestion of minerals such as calcium and iron. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find vitamin D in many foods, so we need to look elsewhere for a source. That's where the sun comes in!

The main way of getting the necessary amount of vitamin D is via your skin's absorption of the sun's rays. Your body will do all the work for you by absorbing sunlight via your outer dermis and then activating the vitamin D nutrients via processes in your kidney and liver. 

Because it's dependent on your exposure to the sun, it can sometimes be hard to tell when you're in need of more vitamin D. Here are 15 signs that will help you know if you're vitamin D deficient.

1. Muscle Weakness

You should be aware that muscle weakness can present as general body fatigue. If you’re experiencing a more general fatigue in your body, these muscle weakness issues may stay hidden and go unnoticed for months. 

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Above all else, always listen to your body. If you notice anything seriously out of the ordinary, it’s recommended that you contact your physician for a checkup. They know what to look for and will get you and your muscles on the right track to good health!

2. Bone Pain

Shunning the sun and avoiding dairy can leave you with a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to bone pain. This can be difficult to distinguish from muscle or joint pain, but it generally manifests itself as a deep, full pain that can't be isolated to an exact area.

There are some ways we can help differentiate bone pain from muscle pain. Muscle pain is usually centralized to one point and is exaggerated by movement or physical activity. Bone pain, on the other hand, is broader and deeper.

Ultimately, medical professionals will be the best resources for determining if you’re experiencing bone or muscle pain. They will perform an MRI or x-ray to examine your body and help determine the source of your pain. If vitamin D is suspected as the cause of your discomfort, your healthcare provider will recommend supplements that should get you back to your regular self.

Studies have shown that vitamin D3 is the most beneficial type of a vitamin D supplement; it’s in the form that is naturally produced by your body, and it converts into a more active form quicker than D2 supplements. D3 can also help your kidneys recycle phosphate back into the blood, keeping it at the right pH. It can also be used to treat osteoporosis.

Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D3, but if you spend most days at the office or you don’t want to put your skin at risk, you could use vitamin D3 supplements to combat deficiency and create a healthier you.

3. Constant Respiratory Problems

Studies show that vitamin D may help defend against respiratory illness, and this is especially true in children. If your child has severe asthma, you may want to increase their vitamin D intake.

Constant respiratory problems may present in different ways. Someone suffering from these issues may feel easily winded after a task they'd normally be fine handling. Or it may be as simple as struggling to catch a breath for an extended period of time.

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Breathing issues need to be addressed by a medical professional quickly because they can lead to other issues. Often, a person suffering constant respiratory problems will also suffer from an anxiety disorder, like panic attacks. The inability to take a full breath may quickly spiral into a panic that your life is in immediate danger. You can help avoid breathing problems—and any resulting panic issues—by making sure you’re getting enough vitamin D!

4. Sweaty Head

Years ago, doctors used to ask new mothers if their newborns' heads were sweating more than normal. This can be a very early sign that a baby is vitamin D deficient. If you're breastfeeding, it may be helpful to consume more foods that are rich in vitamin D or include some vitamin D drops to make sure your baby is getting a sufficient amount.

Foods that contain higher concentrations of vitamin D include fatty fish (such as tuna), orange juice, soy milk, and some cereals. You'll also want to stock up on dairy products that are enriched with vitamin D, such as cheese.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that head sweating from a lack of vitamin D only affects infants. If you find sweat pouring from your forehead in situations that wouldn’t normally cause you to perspire, then you need to get outside and soak up some of the sun’s rays!

5. Depression

As it turns out, the sun is vital to keeping a smile on your face. Vitamin D is often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin," because it is activated in your skin by sunlight. If you live in a place that sees less sunlight than normal, the lack of light could literally kill your mood. 

According to the Vitamin D Council, this essential nutrient helps your brain's neurotransmitters produce serotonin, which affects our feelings of happiness. Studies have linked low levels of vitamin D with episodes of depression. This happens especially during the winter months because of the lack of sun during that time of year.

Scientists are still mystified by how vitamin D actually works in the brain, but more is being learned every year. The number of legitimate studies on the topic has only grown with more understanding of their connection. In time, researchers believe they will uncover the full truth about the link between vitamin D and depression.

In Alaska and other locales with significantly less sunlight for months out of the year, depression due to lack of sun exposure is treated very seriously as a medical issue. Residents are encouraged to purchase light boxes. These devices emit therapeutic light that will help maintain vitamin D levels during dark winter months.

It's important that light therapy be used to deal with depression caused by vitamin D deficiencies because the two can become seriously intertwined.

There are many different types of light boxes that can improve your health. The Sperti Vitamin D Light Box is “the only recognized ultraviolet light box for Vitamin D production,” and The NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp, a bestseller on Amazon, “balances your body clock, leaving you feeling rested, refreshed, and nourished all over.” Each type has the potential to improve your health, but choose one based on what you hope to get out of it.

Depression creates despondent moods that leave a person feeling dejected and sad. These moods are often accompanied by asocial behavior that keeps a depressed person indoors and away from others. This lack of a desire to go out (and see sunshine) can further exacerbate the issues caused by a lack of vitamin D and vice-versa.

6. Chronic Infections

Vitamin D is known to have an effect on over 2,000 genes in the human body, so it’s no surprise that the strength of your body’s immune system is also tied to how much vitamin D you are taking in. When there’s a healthy amount of vitamin D being processed by your body, your immune system is resilient and able to fight off infections and disease. However, a lack of vitamin D can be devastating to your overall health and leave you vulnerable to constant attacks on your health.

Getting a blood test from your doctor will go a long way toward ruling out serious health issues and helping to determine the cause of your infections. If the problem is related to vitamin D, you’ll be required to take in plenty of supplements and sunshine! Vitamin D supplements are sold everywhere, but make sure your doctor helps you select the best options for your health needs.

7. Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular diseases are heart conditions that may include damaged blood vessels or frequent blood clotting, among other issues. Now, there’s proof that vitamin D could be related to heart trouble. Articles published by the National Institutes of Health have shown that deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to congestive heart failure.

Some cardiovascular disease–related symptoms that are easier to spot are dizziness, heavy bloating (particularly in the legs), respiratory issues, and chest pain. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Make sure your body maintains the proper amounts to guard against the risk of heart disease. Get exercise and your daily recommended nutrients to help avoid serious cardiovascular issues down the road. If you really want to make sure you’re on the right path, home tests are available to check for a lack of vitamin D. These tests will screen your blood and possibly show you if you need to make some changes in your supplementation routine.

8. Psoriasis

Psoriasis may present itself as a scaly rash on your scalp or other parts of your body. Often it can be agitated by stress (which finding out you have psoriasis tends to cause). Although psoriasis is not always connected to a lack of vitamin D, the vitamin is sometimes used during treatment. The Mayo Clinic claims that if you have a lack of vitamin D, it will be harder for your body to defend itself against psoriasis.

There is no cure for psoriasis, but it is controllable with treatment. Besides reducing stress and getting your vitamin D, there are other methods for dealing with troubles caused by psoriasis. For example, specially medicated shampoos can be prescribed to keep your scaly rashes at bay. Depending on the severity of your condition, there are also ointments, oils, and other treatments that could help reduce your psoriasis-related discomfort.

9. Chronic Pain

If you experience chronic, widespread pain throughout your body, it could be due in part to a lack of vitamin D. This connection was only recently discovered. In 2010, researchers began looking into the link between chronic pain and a lack of vitamin D.

Studies have now shown that low vitamin D levels affect a person's chances of having chronic pain; supplements can sometimes help relieve it. Talk to your physician about the best way to boost your vitamin D intake.

If you want to try a preliminary test for determining if what you’re experiencing is the same thing as chronic pain, doctors have a recommendation: Press against the area of your chest known as your breastbone (also called your sternum). If you feel a sharp pain when you press down on that area, it’s likely that you’re experiencing chronic pain related to vitamin D deficiencies.

10. Tiredness

Vitamin D is one of the necessary vitamins for your body to create energy, and without it, you can end up feeling tired most of the day. This will make it hard for you to get around or even get to work.  Without your energy, you may start changing your daily behavior in negative ways, which may also impair your overall health.

Continued tiredness can contribute to other symptoms caused by low amounts of vitamin D in the body. If you’re tired, you’re less likely to exercise or go outside. Avoiding activity or sunshine can amplify the effects of a vitamin D deficiency because you are not getting what your body requires to function properly. If you fall into a routine that involves avoiding strenuous activity or sunlight, you’re much more susceptible to issues like depression or mood swings.


Listen to what your body is telling you. Something might be seriously off if you notice that you just don’t have the drive to stay active anymore. You should consult your doctor if you have constant feelings of tiredness that last longer than a few days.

11. Hypertension

Harvard University conducted a study that showed that women with low levels of vitamin D have a 67 percent increased risk of hypertension, which is abnormally high blood pressure. High blood pressure can significantly increase your risks for serious health issues, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Do not panic if you think you’re suffering from hypertension: It’s a common health issue that affects more than 3 million people in the U.S. every year. It can be identified without any blood or medical tests but will require an official diagnosis from your doctor.

If you suffer from anxiety, you may want to consider purchasing vitamin D supplements and adding them to your daily routine. Vitamin D has been proven to have positive effects similar to antidepressants and may reduce your overall blood pressure.

12. Crankiness

Vitamin D also affects the levels of serotonin in your brain, which is what affects your mood. If you're feeling cranky, it might be because you're not producing enough serotonin! Vitamin D will help your moods stay balanced by ensuring your brain gets the vital nutrients it needs to stay energized and focused.

Getty Images Sport / Jordan Mansfield

If you notice mood swings that seem out of the ordinary, visit your doctor for a simple blood test. They will be able to identify what’s going on, and if a lack of vitamin D is the issue, they’ll help you make a plan to get better.

It may be as simple as getting out in sunlight more often or eating foods that are rich in vitamin D. For people who can’t handle too much direct exposure to the sun, supplements are readily available and a great booster for serotonin!

13. Chronic Kidney Disease

Kidneys help remove waste from your blood. When they’re not functioning correctly, your bloodstream can fill with waste and seriously damage your health. Doctors have recently connected kidney health to cardiovascular disease. They’ve also discovered how important vitamin D can be to your kidneys’ health.

As you get older your kidneys are not as efficient at processing vitamin D. Be sure to eat some vitamin D–rich foods or take a supplement—and if you take a supplement, also take vitamin K2 to activate the right proteins. Ensuring that your kidneys are working properly to process vitamin D is just as important as getting your proper nutrients.

How to tell if you may be experiencing chronic kidney disease? It can be tricky, as some patients’ kidney issues may only be found via lab tests. There are some obvious signs, though: If you experience unintentional weight loss, it could be a sign of malfunctioning kidneys. Check with your doctor!

14. Reduced Endurance

If you're an athlete and you're seeing your endurance decrease for no apparent reason, it might be because you have low vitamin D levels. Experts in athletic circles now realize that vitamin D is crucial to energy levels, especially when it comes to endurance. Even active people who get outside every day can experience these issues, despite getting more than the recommended amount of sunshine per day (20 to 30 minutes).

Fortunately, your endurance should return if you get your vitamin D levels back to normal. Remember that you don’t always need to swallow pills to get your proper dose of vitamin D. Try a supplement in powder or liquid form to mix with your smoothies or protein shakes! You’ll quickly see that a boost in vitamin D can really improve your performance.

15. People Over 50

If you're age 50 or older, chances are high that you already have a vitamin D deficiency. The body simply doesn't produce as much vitamin D as you age, so you should always make sure you're getting enough vitamin D through other sources. Whether it is via food, supplements, or just plain old sunshine, try to stay mindful of your vitamin D intake as you add years to your body.

Getty Images News / Christopher Furlong

As with all health-related issues, talk with your doctor or another medical professional if you are seeing any signs or symptoms that concern you. The state of your health can be (and normally is) related to many different factors. When we focus on just one issue related to our health, we run the risk of missing something obvious elsewhere.

Stay in tune with your body and listen when it tells you that it needs something! Vitamin D might be the key, but it's important to consult with a medical professional to be sure you’re always getting proper treatment.


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