Signs & symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D helps maintain a healthy immune system, great for keeping anything from the common cold to flu at bay.

Its main function is to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, both of which are vital for the growth and maintenance of healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

Public Health England now recommends that adults and children over the age of one should be consuming 10 mcg of vitamin D per day, particularly during autumn and winter.

Low levels of vitamin D

Despite these health benefits, one in five adults in the UK has low vitamin D levels. When levels drop to a critically low point, this can result in vitamin D deficiency. In extreme cases, low levels can lead to rickets in children - where the bones become soft, weak and misshapen as they continue to grow.

In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia - a condition which can cause bone pain and muscle weakness.

Deficiencies don’t always cause symptoms until levels get very low or have been very low for some time, making it difficult to diagnose. Symptoms may include difficulty thinking clearly, bone pain, frequent bone fractures, muscle weakness and unexplained fatigue.

Preventing vitamin D deficiency

The good news is there are several ways to avoid vitamin D deficiency, which also serve as preventative measures. Eating foods that are naturally high in vitamin D is one easy solution, for example fatty fish, beef, cheese, egg yolks, fish liver oils and mushrooms.

It’s also possible to increase vitamin D levels by going outside more – the reason why vitamin D is commonly referred to as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin. The NHS recommends around 15 minutes of sun, without wearing sunscreen, exposure daily.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that several factors can limit the amount of sun exposure you get, including the time of year, cloud cover and the time of day. Another consideration is that ultraviolet B radiation can’t penetrate glass. This type of radiation stimulates vitamin D production. So, even if you are taking in sunlight through a window you won’t get the benefit of vitamin D production. This means it can be difficult to get the recommended dose of vitamin D throughout the year.

Public Health England now recommends that adults and children over the age of one should be consuming 10 mcg of vitamin D per day, particularly during autumn and winter.

Topping up vitamin D level

Seven Seas consultant dietician, Helen Bond says: “It’s difficult to get the amount of vitamin D your body needs just from food, as there are few natural food sources. But eating foods rich in this nutrient, like oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, fresh tuna and trout can help to top up your supplies.”

Supplements containing vitamin D

Taking a supplement like Seven Seas Simply Timeless Marine Oil with Cod Liver Oil one-a-day capsules – with a rich source of vitamin D - can also help with vitamin D levels, especially in winter. View our Simply Timeless range.

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