9 sign and symptoms of deficiency of vitamin D hormone for identification


Vitamin D deficiency is going pandemic. In the modern day’s lifestyle, peoples have less exposure to the sun. Vitamin D has not only involves bone health but also involves gene expression as well as immune modulation. It works like a hormone rather than a vitamin. Therefore vitamin d deficiency if unaddressed can lead to serious health problems. I am picking up 9 sign and symptoms of deficiency of vitamin D hormone for identification. Sunlight is the best source for obtaining vitamin D. Modern indoor lifestyle is leading us deficient in vitamin d. More discouragingly with the present environment with altered foods has made vitamin d source less available for optimum intake. However, some foods are fortified with vitamin D but commonly with less potent form D2. Going through this article you will know how a deficiency can affect our health.

9 sign and symptoms of deficiency of vitamin D hormone for identification

Depression, Anxiety, Mood

Apart from other tissues vitamin D receptor has also a presence in brain cells. And for that reason deficiency of vitamin D may also lead to impairment of mood and other cognitive performances. (1) Vitamin D deficiency has a close link with an increased risk of depression and anxiety in adults as well as children.  This is especially with vitamin D3 that is the vitamin D form synthesized with the help of sunlight. In studies, researchers have found a link between vitamin D deficiency with depression, particularly in older people. (2,3)

However, some controlled trials had not found a link between vitamin d and depression. But the researchers also had noted that the dosages of vitamin D often very low. (2)Some other controlled studies found vitamin D supplementation helps to improve the condition in depressed individuals.(4,5) 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. (1) DAasht

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to soft bones, fracture

Vitamin D helps calcium absorption from food in the intestine and maintains blood calcium levels. Hence deficiency can cause hyperparathyroidism, bone loss, soft and weak bones and finally can lead to bone fracture. (6)

9 sign and symptoms of deficiency of vitamin D hormone you can identify yourself

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to fatigue and tiredness

Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to body pain and muscle aches

We have already discussed these. Read more about vitamin D relationship with fatigue, pain, weakness as well as muscle aches.

Vitamin D deficiency relates to Blood sugar issue

In the previous article, we have discussed the role of vitamin D hormone in lowering inflammation as well as the protection of insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Vitamin D deficiency can influence the progression of pre-diabetes to diabetes. With the presence of vitamin D receptors in the pancreas, vitamin D has also a role in glucose metabolism. And that helps in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.

Read more about the role of vitamin D in diabetes.

Lower vitamin D relates to low immunity, getting sick and infected often, impaired wound healing

Low immunity results in more prone to impairment of the body’s defense system and so more prone to disease. Vitamin D also regulates immune functions. Hence deficiency of vitamin D can also cause impairment of immune function as well as lead to numbers of autoimmune diseases. Also, an impaired immune function can lead to impaired wound healing. A study found on people with surgery healing were compromised by low vitamin d level. (7)

You can also read more about the role of vitamin D in immune function and autoimmunity.

Vitamin D deficiency is linked with weight gain

Obesity is associated with low-grade inflammation leading to insulin resistance.  Several studies had reported that vitamin D improves insulin sensitivity and decreases inflammation. Also, obsessed individuals need higher vitamin d for repletion. (8) A systematic review and meta-analysis reported vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of chronic disease, including excess weight, cardiovascular conditions, cancer, diabetes and also high blood pressure. (9) Another 5-year study on more than 4,600 women aged 65 and older reported Lower vitamin D levels are associated with more weight gain in older women, but the weight gain was relatively small.(10)Apart from that vitamin d deficiency leads to chronic fatigue. And that also indirectly lead to weight gain.

Low vitamin D is associated with Gut problems

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. If your intestine is unable to properly absorb fat that can also lead to vitamin D deficiency. And vitamin D involves lowering inflammation as well as immune modulation. Disease-related to gut like Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Irritable bowel syndrome are linked with low vitamin D levels. (11, 12,13)

Hair Loss

A common cause of hair loss is stress. Research also found low serum ferritin and vitamin D are associated with hair loss in females. (14)

The common causes of vitamin D deficiency

Elderly people

Production of vitamin D from sunlight decreases in elderly people. Researchers found people over the age of 70 produces around 30% less vitamin D than healthy young with the same sun exposure. (15)

Less exposure to sunlight and living in indoor

Today people mostly live indoor, have less exposure to the sun with fear of skin cancer. That is a common cause of vitamin d deficiency.

A cohort study on 29 518 Swedish women in a 20-year follow-up evidenced avoiding sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality. (16)A study published in Dermato Endocrinology found 11 of 22 leading cancer significantly decreased with sun exposure. (17)A study also found an individual with higher vitamin D levels had less aggressiveness in skin cancer. (18)

You don’t need to fear sun exposure or to be crazy about to have sun exposure. Just keep in mind that avoid to let your skin burn when you have exposure to the sun.

Dark Skin

Skin pigment acts as a natural sunscreen. People with dark pigment skin needs more sun exposure to obtain the same vitamin d level than fair screen. (19)


Food sources of vitamin D are limited especially in vegan. Due to common deficiency, some foods are fortified with vitamin d however mostly with D2. But D2 has less potency and D3 or cholecalciferol is the best form. Read more about vitamin d food sources.

Obesity or overweight

Obsessed or overweight people have more tendencies towards vitamin D deficiency. Researchers found obsessed people also need two to three times higher doses of vitamin D supplementation for repletion. (20)

Living far from the equator where there is little sun year-round

Impaired kidney and liver function

Vitamin D, as either D3 or D2, does not have significant biological activity. Rather, it must be metabolized within the body to the hormonally-active form known as 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol. Both the liver and kidney take part in this transformation. Therefore people with chronic kidney disease and liver disease tend to have vitamin d deficiency. (21,22)Apart from many other functions the liver also actively takes part in fat metabolism. Vitamin is a fat-soluble vitamin. So it needs fat to be processed inside the body. 

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Pregnancy and breastfeeding mothers have more nutritional requirements along with vitamin D. Researchers suggest that to maximize vitamin D’s effect on gene expression may require even higher doses than 2000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily. (23)

For dose, safety measure, proper test, best form, combination, etc you can read our previous article how vitamin D deficiency is linked with osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, and body aches

Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for 
educational purpose only, not intended to provide one to one health
consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different
people may have different health condition and may have different reaction
to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care
provider before application of any of above guidelines.
Source and References:
1. Consuelo H. Wilkins et. al,Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Low
Mood and Worse Cognitive Performance in Older Adults, American Association
for Geriatric Psychiatry,December 2006 Volume 14, Issue 12, Pages 1032–
2.Okereke OI, Singh A.,The role of vitamin D in the prevention of late-life
depression, J Affect Disord. 2016 Jul 1;198:1-14.
3.Ju SY, Lee YJ, Jeong SN.,Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of
depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis,J Nutr Health Aging.
4.Jorde R, Sneve M, Figenschau Y, Svartberg J, Waterloo K.,Effects of
vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese
subjects: randomized double blind trial,J Intern Med. 2008 Dec;264(6):599-
5.Shipowick CD, Moore CB, Corbett C, Bindler R.,Vitamin D and depressive
symptoms in women during the winter: a pilot study,Appl Nurs Res. 2009
6.Paul Lips,Vitamin D Deficiency and Secondary Hyperparathyroidism in the
Elderly: Consequences for Bone Loss and Fractures and Therapeutic
Implications,Endocrine Reviews, Volume 22, Issue 4, 1 August 2001, Pages
7.Bashutski JD et. al.,The impact of vitamin D status on periodontal
surgery outcomes,J Dent Res. 2011 Aug;90(8):1007-12
8.Mirhosseini N, Vatanparast H, Mazidi M, Kimball SM.,The Effect of
Improved Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Status on Glycemic Control in Diabetic
Patients: A Meta-Analysis,J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Sep 1;102(9):3097-
9.M. Pereira-Santos, P. R. F. Costa, A. M. O. Assis1, C. A. S. T.
Santos3and D. B. Santos,Obesity and vitamin D deficiency: A systematic
review and meta-analysis,Obesity Reviews 16(4) · March 2015
11.Maggie Ham et. al.,Vitamin D Levels in Adults with Crohn’s Disease Are
Responsive to Disease Activity and Treatment,Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2014 May;
20(5): 856–860.
13.Maitreyi Raman et. al,Vitamin D and gastrointestinal diseases:
inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer,Therap Adv Gastroenterol.
2011 Jan; 4(1): 49–62
14.Rasheed H, Mahgoub D, Hegazy R, El-Komy M, Abdel Hay R, Hamid MA, Hamdy
E.,Serum ferritin and vitamin d in female hair loss: do they play a role?,
Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013;26(2):101-7
15.Alfred Denio,Vitamin D Deficiency: The Silent Epidemic of the Elderly,
The International Society for Clinical Densitometry, December 17, 2012
16.Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Nielsen K, Stenbeck
M, Olsson H.,Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause
mortality: results from the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort,J Intern
Med. 2014 Jul;276(1):77-86.
17. Alan B. Fleischer, Jr. and Sarah E. Fleischer, Solar radiation and the
incidence and mortality of leading invasive cancers in the United States,
Dermatoendocrinol. 2016 Jan-Dec; 8(1): e1162366
18.Julia A. Newton-Bishop, et. al.,Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 Levels Are
Associated With Breslow Thickness at Presentation and Survival From
Melanoma,J Clin Oncol. 2009 Nov 10; 27(32): 5439–5444.
19.Susan S. Harris, Vitamin D and African Americans,The Journal of
Nutrition, Volume 136, Issue 4, April 2006, Pages 1126–1129
20.Mirhosseini N, Vatanparast H, Mazidi M, Kimball SM.,The Effect of
Improved Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Status on Glycemic Control in Diabetic
Patients: A Meta-Analysis,J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Sep 1;102(9):3097-
21.Jeremy T. Keane et. al., Vitamin D and the Liver—Correlation or Cause?,
Nutrients. 2018 Apr; 10(4): 496
22.Pedro Henrique Franca Gois, et. al.,Vitamin D Deficiency in Chronic
Kidney Disease: Recent Evidence and Controversies,Int J Environ Res Public
Health. 2018 Aug; 15(8): 1773
23.Arash Hossein-nezhad, Avrum Spira, and Michael F. Holick,Influence of
Vitamin D Status and Vitamin D3 Supplementation on Genome Wide Expression
of White Blood Cells: A Randomized Double-Blind Clinical Trial, PLoS One.
2013; 8(3): e58725    
Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


6 Responses

  1. Hi Bikramjit, Thanks a lot for this informative post. Could you tell me how to recognise a body pain/muscle ache is due to lack of vitamin D or something else. Is taking fortified buttter milk or shakes is good for health.

    1. Vitamin D deficiency is common concern for body pain/muscle ache and you may test for vitamin D (25-OH-Vitamin D level). Vitamin D not only helps in absorption of calcium from food in intestine, it also regulates PTH hormone. Vitamin D, K2, magnesium and calcium, these three helps in such cases by working together.
      Magnesium helps to relax and contract muscle and maintain elasticity.
      In modern time chronic stress is well documented as causative factor for numerous disorders and also responsible for hormonal imbalance. We have high quality data about this. Another reason for pain. Adaptogens (like basil, ginseng, ashwagandha) help to alleviate stress but lifestyle part is primary factor.
      Anemia, fibromyalgia are some other reasons.
      Autoimmune condition like Arthritis, lupus, thyroid, Multiple sclerosis. I can’t say about functional medicinal practitioner in India. In some places the process is staring. One problem is that many anti body testing are not widely available and some are very costly.
      There are some plan and program to address the roots causes and reverse.
      Gut health, stress, foods, toxins (whether from environment or food or medicine) are major player in auto immune condition. These are causative factors for most modern chronic diseases. Many chronic diseases are originated from unhealthy gut.
      Buttermilk from fermented source like curd or yoghurt is better than unfermented source. Milk fat is not a problem if taken in moderation. If fortified with D3 or cholecalciferol, it is better. Fortified with D2 is not the same effect as D3. D3 is synthesized in our body, D2 form is not. If does not mentioned as D3 it can be assumed as D2. I am not so fan of cow milk. With breeding cow milk protein constituents is changing. I mentioned earlier why we need to cautious about cow milk in present days. http://holistichealthnlife.com/milk-myth-reasons-cow-milk-bad-child/
      With rising concern some manufacturer starts producing A2 milk. I saw this in amazon. sugar content need to check for ready to eat food. For packaged food other than whole foods it is better to have lesser ingredient. Higher ingredient indicates more additives as general.
      Best part is sun exposure. Weekly some times to sun exposure without sun burn help not only to get natural vitamin D but also help in keeping away from some other disease. Just should avoid sun burn, skin problem can start from this point. Over all adequate vitamin D is needed for many reactions and good health.

  2. Vitamin D deficiency due to our aversion to avoid sun light is a big problem. Many people these days are osteopenia and have a propensity to suffer from brittle bone.

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