By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
Vitamin D deficiency. How common is it? It is very common than you think. Most of them have no symptoms. If they do have, here are 5 common symptoms.
The symptoms can be very non-specific. Many of the symptoms also occur if you have other medical problems. So, it may not be easy to detect. On many occasions, it is detected through routine blood tests in otherwise asymptomatic patients.
Keeping that in mind, it’s still helpful to know the symptoms. Here are the 5 common vitamin D deficiency symptoms.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption and bone metabolism. Vitamin D deficiency leads to calcium malabsorption and low bone mineral density. Over a long period of time, the bone becomes brittle and can fracture easily.
2. BONE AND MUSCLE PAIN
The vitamin D receptor is present in nerve endings which sense pain. Vitamin D may also be involved in the pain signalling pathways, which may play a role in chronic pain. People with vitamin D deficiency may complain of bone pain and muscle pain.
3. FREQUENT INFECTIONS
We know that vitamin D has an important role in supporting our immune system. If you frequently get a cough and cold, low vitamin D levels may be a contributing factor. A number of studies have found that taking up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily may reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections
Recently, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of COVID-19. However, it is important to note that taking vitamin D supplements — at any dosage — will not prevent COVID-19.
4. FATIGUE, TIREDNESS, ANXIETY and DEPRESSION
Feeling fatigued and tired is a non-specific symptom. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to anxiety disorders and depression. A study on pregnant women found that having adequate vitamin D levels may help reduce anxiety symptoms, improve sleep quality, and even help prevent postpartum depression.
5. WEIGHT GAIN
Obesity is one risk factor. One study in adults found a possible link between low vitamin D status and both belly fat and increased weight. While vitamin D deficiency may be seen in cases of obesity, It is not yet clear whether vitamin D supplements help prevent weight gain.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.