Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Vitamin D

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The only way to know for sure if you’re vitamin D deficient is via blood testing. However, there are some signs and symptoms to be aware of as well.

1. You Have Darker Skin

African Americans are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, because if you have dark skin, you may need as much as 10 times more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a person with pale skin!

Your skin pigment acts as a natural sunscreen, so the more pigment you have, the more time you’ll need to spend in the sun to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.

2. You Feel Down or depressed

Serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, rises with exposure to bright light and falls with decreased sun exposure. In 2006, scientists evaluated the effects of vitamin D on the mental health of 80 elderly patients and found those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy doses.

3. You’re 50 or Older

As mentioned, as you get older your skin doesn’t make as much vitamin D in response to sun exposure. At the same time, your kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D into the form used by your body and older adults tend to spend more time indoors (i.e. getting even less sun exposure and therefore vitamin D).

4. You’re Overweight or Obese (or Have a Higher Muscle Mass)

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble, hormone-like vitamin, which means body fat acts as a “sink” by collecting it. If you’re overweight or obese, you’re therefore likely going to need more vitamin D than a slimmer person — and the same holds true for people with higher body weights due to muscle mass.

5. Your Bones Ache

Many who see their doctor for aches and pains, especially in combination with fatigue, end up being misdiagnosed as having fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome but actually have vitamin D deficiency.

6. Head Sweating

One of the first, classic signs of vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head. In fact, doctors used to ask new mothers about head sweating in their newborns for this very reason.

Excessive sweating in newborns due to neuromuscular irritability is still described as a common, early symptom of vitamin D deficiency.

7. You Have Stomach Trouble

Remember, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means if you have a gastrointestinal condition that affects your ability to absorb fat, you may have lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D as well.

This includes gut conditions like Crohn’s, celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and inflammatory bowel disease.

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8.You shun the sun.

The sun is the primary cause of premature aging on the skin, and it can also increase risk of skin cancer. It’s no surprise, then, that a lot of people try to stay out of it.

We’ve all been advised to use sunscreen on a daily basis.

While avoiding UV rays can help keep skin healthy and looking young, it can also deprive us of the primary source of vitamin D.

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9.You eat a vegan diet.

Few foods are good natural sources of vitamin D. The best options are animal foods, such as fatty fish and fish liver oils.

Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks also contain small amounts. If you eat a vegan diet, you’re not consuming these foods, so you may be at greater risk of deficiency.

You can eat fortified foods, such as cereals and orange juice, but these may not supply enough on a daily basis.

10.You have chronic kidney disease.

If you have this disease, you may have more difficulty absorbing and utilizing vitamin D in your body. You may need to take vitamin D supplements.

The truth is that it’s extremely difficult to tell whether you have a vitamin D deficiency. The only way to be absolutely sure is to take a blood test.

The normal range of vitamin D is measured as nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Many experts recommend a level between 20 and 40 ng/mL. Others recommend a level between 30 and 50 ng/mL.

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