Vitamin D foods, deficiency, symptoms and side effects

Vitamin D

I have been practicing Nutrition from past half a decade. In early practice Vitamin D deficiency was found in elderly people. In recent years I have seen that young girls and boys of age 23-24yrs have low levels of Vitamin D levels. It feels strange that population of such a young age is facing this issues. Due to my personal interest, I investigated in my practice and I found only two major reasons for low levels of Vitamin D. One is inadequate diet and other is negligible sun exposure.

Vitamin D is also known as Sunshine Vitamin. So if you do not expose yourself for enough time under the sun then there are high chances of Vitamin D deficiency. This fat soluble vitamin is produced in the body with the help of sunshine or through food supplements. Vitamin D is essential for:

  1. Strong bones
  2. Promote calcium absorption
  3. Also regulates insulin and diabetes management
  4. Also required for bone mineralization.
  5. Builds up Immunity

But such an important vitamin is available mostly in non-veg foods and dairy products. So along with dietary intake of Vitamin D it becomes immensely important to take Vitamin D from Sun. It’s a free source. I feel we should not miss it.

I remember our parents pushing us to play in the open ground or under the sun. Even a new born infant is exposed too sun every day. If sun easy were that harmful then doctors wouldn’t be advising to repose the infants to sun. And now the time has changed. Parents don’t like their kid to play under the son. Reason? He might get tanned or he might have headache or he will start sweating. Are these reasons valid enough to stop kids from getting natural source of Vitamin D.

If we talk about adults, there is no scope of sun exposure among people who has 9-5 desk job. They leave from home before sun rise and while leaving the rays are not effective to activate Vitamin D. When you travel during the peak office hours, you will see that the selection of window seats is done on basis of sunlight. The seats were sun light falls gets filled at last. People just hate getting those extremely beneficial rays. I would suggest people who feel they do not have enough sun exposure due to lack of time. Make use of these seats which are blessed to have sun on them. Take full advantage of these rays while you travelling. If you have an excuse for this, then you body will also give you excuses for not working efficiently.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Foods high in Vitamin D are:

  1. Salmon
  2. Sardine
  3. Tuna
  4. Cow’s Milk
  5. Tofu
  6. Mushroom
  7. Cod liver Oil
  8. Fortified cereals
  9. Pork
  10. Dairy products

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • General muscle pain and weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Weight gain
  • Chronic pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Poor concentration
  • High blood pressure
  • Restless sleep
  • Bladder problems Headaches
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Some people do not develop any symptom till the Vitamin D level reaches almost zero.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Diseases Associated with Low levels of Vitamin D

  • Osteoporosis and Osteopenia
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • 17 varieties of Cancer (including breast, prostate and colon)
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Gout
  • Infertility and PMS
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Depression Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Psoriasis
  • Fibromyalgia

People at risk of Vitamin D deficiency: Best way to check your Vitamin D levels is via blood test. These are few areas of concerns which may cause Vitamin D deficiency:

  1. Achy bones: If you have low levels of Vitamin D in your body, you will experience body pain anytime during the day. This pain is not associated with any physical activity or exercise or posture problem. These pain disappears as soon as you correct this deficiency
  2. Head sweating: This is a bit specific to young kids. If your kid has more than normal head sweating, please check his Vitamin D levels. It’s always better to take precautionary measure. So don’t wait for other symptoms to develop.
  3. Dark skin: Our skin pigment, which gives colour to our skin is a natural sunscreen for us. SO darker people have more pigment so they have to spend more time under the sun to activate Vitamin D as compared to person with lighter skin
  4. 50+ yrs: As we age, efficiency of skin to make Vitamin D reduces. Another target organ fir making Vitamin D, Kidney, also reduces its functioning post 50yrs
  5. Overweight or Obese: People who have higher body fat and higher muscle mass will require more amount of Vitamin D to the body to support its smooth functioning.

Vitamin D Toxicity/ Side-effects:

There are very rare chances of developing toxicity of this fat soluble vitamin as the food sources are very limited and body will make Vitamin D only in the required amount. So unless you are supplementing Vitamin D in your diet via supplements there are very less chances of developing toxicity. If you take capsule of more than or equal to 4000IU then it becomes essential for you to check your blood Vitamin D levels every 3 months.



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Neha Kava

National Registered Dietitian at
Neha Kava is a National Certified Registered Dietitian in India. She likes to share her knowledge about daily health, nutritition and diet tips. You can contact her for online counselling on

3 Responses to Vitamin D foods, deficiency, symptoms and side effects

  1. aparna says:

    hi.i have been taking vit d,calcium and b12 supplement since last 6 months as my levels had gone down.but still if i dont take the supplemnent for 4-5 days i start having pain in my body.why so. i mean taking for 6 months also doesnt cure the deficiancy or what?

    • Neha Kava says:

      Hello Aparna,

      It actually depends what were your levels. If it’s too low than take more time to build up good levels. If its 6 months and above so please check your Vit D and B12 levels again then continue your supplementation.


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