Vitamin D deficiency symptoms can occur if a person lacks what’s been nicknamed the ‘sunshine vitamin’. The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, and from late March to the end of September this is easy to gain. But between October and early March it’s more difficult to get enough vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for the body, regulating calcium and phosphate.
These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy, so if a person lacks vitamin D they can be at increased risk of problems with their bones.
Children deficient in vitamin D can be at increased risk of developing rickets, a condition that causes pain and soft and weak bones, and adults can be at increased risk of developing bone pain caused by osteomalacia.
But these complications can be avoided by spotting the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
One of the more common signs of the condition to be wary of is a sweaty head, according to Holland & Barrett.
Excessive sweating is common and can affect the whole body or certain areas.
It’s also considered very normal, as its the body’s way of cooling itself down when it’s too hot.
But excessive sweating, also referred to as hyperhidrosis, could also signal a lack of vitamin D.
The high street health store explains: “Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to an impaired immune system, making it more difficult to fight infections.
“Vitamin D receptors in our brains help brain cells receive and understand chemical signals – a lack of vitamin D is likely to affect the way our brain communicates.
“A common sign of vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty scalp (this is one reason newborn babies are monitored for head sweats).
“A sweaty scalp could be an early sign of vitamin D deficiency.”
Other symptoms of vitamin D deficiency
Other signs of the condition are outlined by Bupa. They include:
- Muscle ache
- Poor bone and tooth health
- Constant colds
People at risk of vitamin D deficiency
Certain groups of people risk not getting enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure.
According to the Department of Health, these groups include people that:
- Aren’t often outdoors – for example a person who is frail or housebound
- Are in an institution like a care home
- Usually wear clothes that cover up most of the skin when outdoors
- Have dark skin – for example people with an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background
How to avoid vitamin D deficiency
A small number of foods contain some vitamin D, so it may be worth including these in your diet during the autumn and winter months.
The NHS says food sources include:
- Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods – such as most fat spread and some breakfast cereals
But it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone, so people should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms.
The NHS advises: “You can buy vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D (for under 5s) at most pharmacies and supermarkets.”