Vitamin D deficiency symptoms: Three signs you could be lacking the ‘sunshine vitamin’

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms can develop if a person lacks the vitamin from having too little sun exposure. The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when being outdoors, but between October and early March, certain groups may risk not getting enough. It’s important to get enough vitamin D because the body needs to regulate calcium and phosphate – nutrients needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. If a person lacks vitamin D they can be at increased risk of problems with their bones.

Headaches, hair loss and sweating have all been linked to vitamin D deficiency

Children can be at increased risk of developing rickets, a conditions that causes pain and soft and weak bones.

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.

Three signs associated with the condition are linked to a person’s head.


Research published in 2017 suggested low levels may increase a person’s risk for chronic headaches.

The Finnish study found men with the lowest levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to have headaches at least twice a week, compared to those with the highest levels.

Chronic headaches were also more frequently reported by men who were examined from October through May, when vitamin D levels in Finland tend to be lower.

Hair loss 

Research has demonstrated that lack of vitamin D can lead to hair loss because vitamin D stimulates new and old hair follicles.

When there isn’t enough of the vitamin in your body new hair growth can be stunted.

Deficiency in the vitamin has also been linked to alopecia, a condition which causes bald patches on the scalp and hair loss in other areas of the body.

One study found women 18 to 45 years old who experienced alopecia or other types of hair loss had low levels of vitamin D


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:

  • Fatigue
  • 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
  • Liver
  • 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.”

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