With one in five adults and around one in six children reported to have low vitamin D levels in the UK, could you be one of them?
We look at the tell-tale signs that you may be deficient in the sunshine vitamin.
1. Aching bones
Vitamin D is vital for supporting bones and their structure. The nutrient helps regulate calcium – which is essential for maintaining strong teeth and bones – within the body. When you’re running low on vitamin D, your bones can weaken, increasing your risk of stress fractures.
2. Weak muscles
As well as maintaining bones, Vitamin D supports normal muscle function. Poor muscle strength and weakness may be associated with vitamin D deficiency, which is particularly common among elderly people as the capacity for the skin to synthesise the provitamin calcidiol decreases with age.
3. Feeling low
Lower levels of this this vital nutrient affect the serotonin (the happy hormone) concentration in the brain. We rely on exposure to sunlight to absorb Vitamin D, so during the darker months of the year, symptoms of low mood can begin to appear.
4. Constant coughs and colds
Experts suggest that vitamin D is vital to activating our immune defences, and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin our immune cells are unable to react appropriately.
5. Gut problems
Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient, so if you suffer from a gastrointestinal condition that affects your ability to absorb fat, it will also affect your absorption of vitamin D, putting you at greater risk of a deficiency.
Concerned about your vitamin D status?
If you're showing any of these signs and are worried about your vitamin D levels, or if you don't think you're currently getting enough, you can quickly and easily find out your level with a blood spot test.