Vitamin D deficiency: The feeling in your bones you shouldn't ignore – are you at risk?

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Vitamin D deficiency is when the level of vitamin D in the body is too low and can cause serious health conditions. Without enough of the vitamin, it is hard to regulate the amount of calcium or phosphate in the body. If severe, a lack of vitamin D could lead to other medical conditions, such as deformities, rickets or osteomalacia. Many people are unaware that being vitamin D deficient could also put you at risk of developing osteoporosis. This is because a lack of vitamin D causes the bones to become brittle, thin and misshapen.

Aching bones could be a sign that you need more vitamin D – especially if it’s in your back or knees, said Holland and Barrett.

If you have bone pain, along with a general feeling of weakness, you should consider increasing your vitamin D intake, it said.

“You might know about the link between vitamin D deficiency and rickets [which is called osteomalacia in adults],” said Holland and Barrett.

“Rickets is a condition which affects the bones. It causes them to become soft and weak, often leading to deformities and fractures.

“Vitamin D deficiency affects bone health which could result in a throbbing or achy feeling in your bones. This is often most noticeable in the knees and back.

“Those who don’t have enough of this important vitamin can develop rickets, osteoporosis, bone pain, and an increased risk of fractures.

“If you think you are at risk, seek advice from a medical professional or ask your doctor for a blood test to assess your vitamin D levels.”

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:

  • Getting sick or infected often
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Bone and back pain
  • Depression
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Bone loss
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle pain

The amount of vitamin D adults get from their diets is often less than whats recommended and exposure to sunlight can make up the difference.

Vitamin D’s main source is sunlight however a person should try and avoid direct sunlight and with temperatures set to soar, covering up and using sunscreen is vital.

NICE guidelines acknowledge studies showing melanoma patients with low vitamin D are more likely to die earlier, but say more research is needed to prove vitamin D has a protective effect.

Holland and Barrett said: “Research suggests that everyone over the age of one should have a daily intake of at least 10µg of vitamin D per day to protect bone and muscle health.

“Vitamin D3 is produced in our bodies underneath our skin as a reaction to sunlight exposure. Vitamin D helps to contribute to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth, muscle function and the immune system, helping our body fight off infection.

“Additionally, vitamin D supports the absorption/utilisation of calcium and phosphorus thus helps in maintaining normal blood calcium levels.”

Best foods that provide vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fish
  • Orange juice
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Cod liver oil
  • Tuna
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp

One study found that 40 per cent of adults in the UK had vitamin D levels below 20ng/ml and anything lower than 12 is considered a deficiency and requires treatment.

Too little vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis, a greater risk of fractures, and even rickets. However, even brief regular exposure during summer months provides enough to fuel most people throughout the year.

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