Physical

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms: Signs to spot at home that could signal ‘severe deficiency’

Vitamin D is used by the body to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body in order to keep the bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. During the winter, the body doesn’t make enough of the vitamin from sunlight so supplements which is why government advice is to take vitamin D supplements between the months of September and April. After this period, the body starts making enough of the vitamin from sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency can cause a number of complications; a number of signs present themselves when someone is severely deficient, according to Patient.info.

This includes severe pain and weakness in the muscles that may cause difficulties in everyday acts such as climbing stairs or getting up from a chair.

As a result, this can lead to a person developing a waddling style of walking.

Other symptoms of a severe deficiency include bones feeling painful if moderate pressure is applied and the development of a hairline fracture causing tenderness and pain in the back, hips, pelvis, thighs, and feet.

While the symptoms of vitamin D in adults are uncomfortable, in children they can be detrimental.

READ MORE: High cholesterol symptoms: Three warning signs of ‘limb ischemia’

When a child is growing, they need strong bones and muscles in order to maintain the progress of growing; a child deficient in vitamin D is more likely to have poor growth.

Furthermore, a bone condition known as rickets can also develop; this is a condition that affects bone development and causes pain and can lead to bone deformities.

A vitamin D deficiency not only affects the child physically but their mental health too with children experiencing a higher degree of irritability.

In extremely rare cases children can develop the rare heart condition cardiomyopathy.

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Vitamin D isn’t just about getting too little, it’s possible to get too much.

While it’s impossible to overdose on vitamin D from sunlight, other conditions such as heatstroke and dehydration are possible, it’s possible to overdose on vitamin D.

The recommended maximum dose of vitamin D for an adult is 100 micrograms per day or 10 micrograms for children.

Too much vitamin D can lead to its own set of complications including a condition known as hypercalcaemia, where too much calcium build up leads to weak bones alongside damage to the kidneys and heart.

Vitamin D, like other supplements, is best consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet and not consumed in excess.

During the pandemic vitamin D has risen in prominence as it became touted as a way to either treat or prevent COVID-19.

In article for the British Medical Journal Professor Karani S Vimaleswaran from the University of Reading wrote: “Though direct evidence of a link between vitamin D levels and COVID-19 incidence or outcomes is lacking, indirect evidence of an immunomodulatory role of vitamin D in respiratory infection exists.”

There have been several studies as to the efficacy of using vitamin D as a preventative treatment but so far Professor Vimaleswaran says: “The joint guidance concludes that there is little good evidence on vitamin D and COVID-19.”

In response to rumors about the link between vitamin D and COVID-19, the NHS says: “There have been some reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus. But there is currently not enough evidence to support taking vitamin D solely to prevent or treat COVID-19.”

That isn’t to say that vitamin D doesn’t have health benefits, it is merely with regard to COVID-19 those “benefits are possible, but evidence is sparse, indirect, and inconclusive”, in the words of Professor Karani.

Away from supplements vitamin D can be found in a number of foods such as oily fish, red meat, liver, and egg yolks.

For more information on vitamin D deficiency and dietary information consult a dietician or your GP.

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