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The Symptoms of Low Vitamin D

With this year’s long winter finally behind us, your body is probably running low on one very important vitamin- Vitamin D! According to a 2011 study, 41.6% of all American adults have a deficiency in Vitamin D. This number only gets higher for American adults with high levels of melanin or after months spend indoors.

Vitamin D deficiencies can lead to very serious health consequences like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and more severe COVID-19 reactions. In this blog, we’ll break down some of the common symptoms of vitamin D deficiencies, why vitamin D is so important, and how you can boost your vitamin D levels.

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Vitamin D 101:

Also known as the “Sunshine Vitamin”, Vitamin D is a staple nutrient on the path to optimal health. But vitamin D is technically not a vitamin, it breaks many of the rules for vitamins because it’s produced by the body. Vitamin D is also absent from all natural foods except egg yolks and fish. Moreover, in order to use the vitamin D obtained from food, your body must first transform it.

Your body can also absorb vitamin D from UV-B rays from the sun. When you walk into a sunny patch, the sun’s energy transforms a chemical in your skin into vitamin D, which is then carried to your liver and kidneys to convert it into a usable form of the vitamin. The vitamin D your body gets from the sun is actually more potent and beneficial than vitamin D you obtain from food. Sun-derived vitamin D can circulate in your body for twice as long as food-derived vitamin D. This is why is so critical to spend time outside and absorb those UV-B rays whenever you can.

Why is vitamin D so important?

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for many different functions in your body. Some of its purposes include:

  • Supporting bone and teeth health

  • Promoting the nervous system, brain, and nervous system

  • Supporting cardiovascular health and lung function

  • Regulating insulin levels

  • Influencing the expression of genes involved in the development of cancer

Especially topical right now, vitamin D has been found to be an important factor in the severity of COVID-19 infection. Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to an increase in the likelihood in the severity of a COVID-19 case. This is because vitamin D plays an important role in supporting the immune system. Sever studies have found that higher levels of vitamin D have protective effects against respiratory viral infections and suppress the overexpression of proinflammatory cytokines. An over-expression of cytokines is what causes a cytokine storm, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and is thought to be one of the factors behind chronic COVID-19.

Poor levels of Vitamin D are also linked to other serious health consequences. Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other serious chronic conditions. Low vitamin D is also associated with inflammation and an increased risk of developing cognitive impairment and several other neurological conditions.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiencies:

A vitamin D deficiency can be hard to notice because it can take several months for symptoms to appear. However, it is important to be mindful of the signs and symptoms so you know what to look for.

Fatigue and tiredness:

Vitamin D is an often-overlooked potential cause of your fatigue. One study linked symptoms of fatigue to vitamin D deficiencies.

Moreover, a second study on children found that low vitamin D levels are associated with shorter sleep duration, delayed bedtimes, and poor sleep quality. Another study on nurses discovered a strong connection between fatigue and low vitamin D levels. Further, the same study found that 89% of participants were low in the vitamin in the first place.

Multiple studies have also shown that after supplementing with vitamin D, the severity of fatigue is reduced.


Several studies have determined a link between depression and a deficiency in vitamin D, especially in older adults. While the results have been mixed, multiple studies have found that supplementing with vitamin D has been found to relieve symptoms of depression.


Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to anxiety disorders. One study found that people with anxiety and depression have significantly lower levels of vitamin D.

Another study found that supplementing with vitamin D has been found to help reduce symptoms of anxiety, prevent depression, and improve sleep quality.

Impaired wound healing:

Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with slow wound healing following an injury or surgery. This is because vitamin D increases the production of compounds that are crucial in the creation of new skin. Several studies have found that a vitamin D deficiency compromised various aspects of the healing process for most people.

Vitamin D also plays a large role in combatting inflammation and addressing infections- two more important aspects of the healing process. Several studies have found that vitamin D deficiencies can lead to higher levels of inflammatory markers that can hinder healing. Moreover, studies have found that supplementing with vitamin D can help improve the healing process.

Bone and back pain:

Your body has a hard time absorbing calcium without the presence of vitamin D. This makes the vitamin essential for bone health. This is also why low levels of vitamin D have been found to be associated with bone and lower back pain.

One study found a link between low levels of vitamin D and severe back pain. Several other studies have found that people with arthritis, muscle pain, and widespread chronic pain tend to have lower levels of vitamin D than those without the conditions.

Bone loss:

As described above, vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption and bone metabolism. In a large study, it was found that women who have low vitamin D levels also have low bone mineral density. Without high bone mineral density, your bones are at a higher risk of fracture.

Frequent infections or illnesses:

One of the most important roles that vitamin D plays is in supporting the immune system. Vitamin D helps you ward off bacteria that cause illness and ward off viruses. In fact, vitamin D directly interacts with infection-fighting cells.

If you find yourself often sick, vitamin D levels could be a contributing factor. Several large studies have found a link between respiratory tract infections like colds and low vitamin D levels. Multiple studies have also found that taking vitamin D supplements daily can help reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections.

Weight gain:

One important risk factor for low vitamin D levels is obesity. But researchers think it goes both ways. One study found a link between low vitamin D and both belly fat and increased weight. While other studies have found further evidence to suggest a link between obesity and vitamin D deficiency, more research is needed.

Why am I deficient in vitamin D?

There is no single cause of low vitamin D. However, some of the most common risk factors behind vitamin D deficiencies include:

  • Being older

  • Having dark skin

  • Being obese or overweight

  • A lack of dairy or fish in your diet

  • Living in a region with little sunlight

  • Working night shifts

  • Having hyperparathyroidism, chronic kidney disease, or liver disease

  • Staying or working indoors

  • Having a health condition like Crohn’s or celiac that impacts nutrient absorption

  • Having a gastric bypass surgery

How to achieve optimal vitamin D levels?

There are several steps you can take to raise your levels of vitamin D:

  • Take a vitamin D supplement- There are many different kinds of vitamin D supplements on the market, but it’s critical that you obtain your supplement through a medical professional. Only medical professionals can prescribe medical-grade supplements that guarantee you are receiving 100% vitamin D and no fillers or additives.

    • It is also important to note that vitamin A is necessary to sensitize the vitamin D receptor to promote proper absorption. Therefore, it is best to take vitamin D with vitamin A and K.

  • Eat a diet high in vitamin D- While vitamin D is more effectively absorbed directly in the sun, there are still several types of food you should add to your diet to ensure sufficient levels of the vitamin. Such foods include:

    • Cod liver oil

    • Egg yolk

    • Salmon

    • Swordfish

    • Tuna fish

    • Sardines

    • Beef liver

  • Spend time outside without sunscreen- We only approve of going sunscreen-free when in pursuit of vitamin D absorption. Some sunscreens can completely block your vitamin D production. Most research on vitamin D absorption has suggested that it only takes 8-15 minutes of sunscreen-free sunshine time for your body to begin producing vitamin D. However, for those who are older, darker-skinned, or live further from the equator, more time may be necessary.

    • One great way to protect your skin while you're soaking up that sweet vitamin D is by using Heliocare! Heliocare is a powerful formula of antioxidants. Its active mechanism is derived from the Polypodium leucotomos fern. Polypodium leucotomos extract (PLE) provides protection against free radicals. Free radicals can damage the skin in their attempt to steal electrons from other molecules which cause direct damage to our skin’s DNA. Damage to our DNA results in accelerated skin aging. Heliocare prevents this damage by replacing the missing electron in free radicals. Click here to learn more!

At the Johson Center, we specify our vitamin D recommendation to ensure that you are reaching an optimal level based on factors like your age and genetic variations.

If you are interested in checking your levels of Vitamin D or starting supplementation, click here to contact us! Or, contact our office directly at

The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!

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