A lack of vitamin D is termed a vitamin D deficiency, and can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and several conditions in adults. If you are spending a lot of time indoors, the NHS suggests you should take 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to keep your bones and muscles healthy. Dietary vitamin D is available in foods such as oily fish, cod liver oil, red meat, fortified cereals, fortified spreads and egg yolks.
Lloyds Pharmacy Online outlines several short term and long term impacts of not having enough vitamin D.
It says that the deficiency may lead to symptoms such as lower back pain, muscle aches, and pain in the bones.
“Because vitamin D helps the body maintain bone health, a deficiency can lead to pain in the bones. This is commonly felt as pain in the lower back,” the site reads.
It adds: “In addition to bone and back pain, low vitamin D can also lead to aches and pains in the muscles.”
The Pharmacy warns that in the long term, a severe vitamin D deficiency may lead to chronic health problems.
“In children and adults, low vitamin D can cause bone deformities – in children, it can cause rickets, while in adults it can cause a similar condition known as osteomalacia (soft bones),” the site warns.
Symptoms can also include a waddling gait, chronic widespread pain or bone pain in the pelvis and foot.
In April 2020, the NHS issued a statement, based on recommendations from Public Health England (PHE), that we should all consider taking 10 mcg/day vitamin D as a supplement, to keep our bones and muscles healthy. This advice has been issued now, largely because of the restrictions imposed by quarantine and lockdown.
Nonetheless, the NHS says that in summer months, the majority of the population will get enough vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and a healthy, balanced diet.
Between October and early March the health body says we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight, so you need to get vitamin D from your diet.
Around 20 percent of adults may have low vitamin D status, and there are several main risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.
The NHS says risk factors include a lack of sunlight exposure, darker skin, being housebound, malabsorption, and being pregnant or breastfeeding.
Falling short of the required amount could weaken immune defences, but if low levels are left untreated, discomfort may also arise.
Over-supplementation of vitamin D, however, can be just as harmful and should be avoided.
The NHS says taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body which can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.
If you or someone you care for is in a higher risk group they may need to take Vitamin D supplements.
You can take Vitamin D supplements as tablets, liquid or a spray, and they can be bought in a pharmacy.
If you exceed the upper limit it can lead to feelings of nausea.
Other signs you have taken too much include vomiting, muscle weakness, and loss of appetite.