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You can recognize a vitamin D deficiency by these physical and mental symptoms.

Every cell in your body has a receptor for vitamin D. That’s why it’s more of a hormone than a vitamin and very important for your holistic well-being.

If you have a vitamin D deficiency, it’s accompanied by a number of symptoms. This ranges from fatigue and muscle pain to hair loss and mood swings.

It is therefore important that you consume enough vitamin D every day. That’s because it plays a critical role in your health, such as regulating hormones, maintaining bone health, and boosting your immune system.

Unfortunately, vitamin D is very rarely found in our food. The best source is fatty fish. However, healthy levels of vitamin D can be achieved for many people by 15-30 minutes of sun exposure around midday. But only in summer. From October to May, the sun is not strong enough for this.

How much vitamin D is enough?

The vitamin D requirement is expressed in micrograms (µg) and in so-called “International Units”: I.E. =International Unit or I.U. =International Unit.

1 I.U. is equivalent to 0.025µg (micrograms) of vitamin D, or 1 µg is 40 I.U.

Most people need 800-1000 IU of vitamin D per day, according to the German Nutrition Society (DGE). Research shows that many people can reach the ideal blood level of “circulating 25(OH)D concentrations” of at least 50 nmol/l with this dose, which has benefits for your health (1).

However, it also turns out that many people need more vitamin D. This includes all adults over the age of 50, people with darker skin types, and people with medical conditions that limit fat absorption.

Ultimately, it’s always important to get your blood work. You can have this done by a doctor, in a laboratory or by self-testing from the pharmacy. Here are some blood levels of vitamin D and their interpretation from the Robert Koch Institute:

nmol/l ng/ml Interpretation
<30 <12 Vitamin D deficiency
30-<50 12-<20 Undersupply
50 -<75 20-<30 Good normal values
75-<125 30-<50 Good high values
≥125 ≥50 Overprovision


The main signs of vitamin D deficiency

The indications of vitamin D deficiency are complex and rather diffuse at the beginning. Because of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Germany and the diverse health effects, you should definitely have your suspicions checked by a blood test.

1. fatigue

People with very low vitamin D levels may suffer from fatigue (2). Sometimes this fatigue can even be quite severe.

2. muscle weakness and pain

Several studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to muscle pain and weakness (3). If you suffer from severe muscle pain and the cause is not clear to you, you should talk to a doctor.

3. hair loss

Low vitamin D levels can also lead to hair loss and slowed hair growth because follicles atrophy (4). A study of people with alopecia areata showed that lower vitamin D blood levels tended to be associated with more hair loss (5).

However, it is also important to know that hair loss in the many cases can have other causes than vitamin D deficiency. Hormonal reasons, genetics, pregnancy, trauma or surgery can also be the cause.

4. you get sick often

Vitamin D is an important factor for an immune system in balance. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a weaker immune system. Adults with low D levels are therefore more often afflicted with colds, coughs, or upper respiratory tract infection (6). So if you get sick often, keep in mind that you may have a vitamin D deficiency.

5. bone pain

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Without vitamin D, osteoporosis, bone pain, osteomalacia (soft bones), and other problems of the skeleton, connective tissue, and muscles can occur. This may manifest as bone pain (7).

6. mood lows

Low levels of vitamin D in the blood also affect your mood, as a long-term study of 80 elderly people showed: the seniors with the highest vitamin D deficiency were 11 times more prone to depression (8).

In addition to older people, young people, overweight people and people with chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes) are among the risk groups for vitamin D deficiency. Interestingly, these are the same groups that are at risk for depression (9), so it seems legitimate to suspect a link here.

7. skin problems like acne

If you have skin problems such as acne or neurodermatitis, you should also check your vitamin D supply. Because vitamin D is important for cells to renew themselves and divide properly. It also stimulates T-cells to fight infections such as acne bacteria and relieves inflammation such as dermatitis. (10)

You suspect a vitamin D deficiency?

If you think you have a vitamin D deficiency, you should definitely see a doctor. He can determine your blood vitamin D level by taking a blood sample. You can also measure your vitamin D supply quickly and conveniently with a test kit from the pharmacy. A 25(OH)D level of at least 50 nmol/l should be your goal, as it has been scientifically shown to bring preventative benefits to your health.

If you have a vitamin D deficiency, you should work with a doctor to determine the best dose for your body. Up to 4,000 units of vitamin D per day may be useful as initial therapy over a 2-4 week period. However, a doctor should always determine an exact dosage for you.

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