Vitamin D deficiency symptoms: The uncomfortable sign on your skin to watch out for

Vitamin D fortifies your bones by helping the body to absorb calcium so becoming deficient in the vitamin can lead to soft, thin and brittle bones, a condition known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Vitamin D’s impact on the body extends far beyond strengthening bones, however. Vitamin D supports the immune system, the movement of muscles and even the mind.


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Lacking the vitamin can therefore cause a diverse number of symptoms, with some more noticeable than others.

One skin-deep symptom is a breakout of acne.

According to the NHS, acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point.

It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that’s hot or painful to touch.

One study evaluated vitamin D levels in patients with acne and identified the role of vitamin D deficiency in acne development.

The findings, published in the journal PLoS One, noted that 48.8 percent of patients with acne had vitamin D deficiencies.

After supplementing these patients with 1,000 IU of vitamin D, their inflammatory lesions showed improvements after eight weeks, however.

Another study published in Dermato Endocrinology also found an association between vitamin D deficiency and acne.

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Results indicated that vitamin D regulates the immune system and the production of keratin and sebum from the sebaceous glands.

Sebaceous glands are small oil-producing glands that release a fatty substance called sebum, which has been linked to acne breakouts.

Furthermore, research suggests that vitamin D benefits the skin with its antioxidant properties that may inhibit the blocking of pores in the skin.

Am I at risk of a vitamin D deficiency?

During the autumn and winter months, you are at an increased risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency.


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According to Department of Health, you are specifically at risk if you:

  • Aren’t often outdoors – for example, if you’re frail or housebound
  • Are in an institution like a care home
  • Usually wear clothes that cover most of your skin when outdoors

“If you have dark skin – for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background – you may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight,” explains the public health body.

You should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if you are at risk, advises the NHS.

Can you take too many vitamin D supplements?

As the health body explains, taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia).

“This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart,” warns the health site.

If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people, it adds.

In addition to supplementation, vitamin D can be found in a small number of foods.

These include:

  • Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified foods – such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals

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