6 Little-Known Signs You Might Be Vitamin D Deficient (#5 Will Surprise You) - Save Our Bones

It’s an exceptionally cold winter in the Northern Hemisphere, so with sunlight at a premium, it’s a good time to stop and think if you’re getting enough Vitamin D.

There is no doubt that Vitamin D is crucial for bone health – it doubles as a hormone, and regulates calcium and phosphorous in the bone remodeling process.

It’s a crucial component in preventing fracture, and not surprisingly, a recent study has shown that half of older adults who have sustained a hip fracture had low serum Vitamin D levels.1

Vitamin D is also involved in many other important body processes, including reduction of inflammation, cell growth, and immune and neuromuscular function.

Now let’s take a look at six little-known signs that could mean you are Vitamin D deficient.

1. Chronic Pain And Muscle Weakness

This may sound quite drastic, but it can actually be very subtle, especially in the beginning. With Vitamin D levels registering extremely low among those with chronic pain and fatigue, and symptoms being relieved when Vitamin D is given, doctors are beginning to take notice.

Since Vitamin D is a hormone as well, receptors for it are located all over the body, including the muscles and brain.

Actually, muscle weakness as a result of Vitamin D deficiency makes perfect sense. You see, Vitamin D enters muscle cells when it is metabolized, enhancing muscle contraction, which is vital for, among other things, preventing falls and engaging in bone-building exercise.

So nonspecific pain and weakness may in fact be your body’s cry for more of this important vitamin.

2. Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is, unfortunately, fairly common. It is not so much a symptom of Vitamin D deficiency insomuch as the two affect each other. As Vitamin D is being metabolized in the body, magnesium regulates enzymatic activity that affects Vitamin D uptake.

So if you are not getting enough magnesium, your Vitamin D levels will also suffer.

3. Impaired/Low Immunity

Do you find yourself catching “every cold that comes along”? It might be lack of Vitamin D.

As I mentioned earlier, Vitamin D receptors are found all over the body, including the immune cells. A 2006 study confirms the theory that Vitamin D deficiency is part of the seasonal nature of flu outbreaks – less sunlight means less Vitamin D, which leads to lower immunity and more flu. 2

The research suggests that Vitamin D may be most effective as a flu preventative. A 2010 Japanese study found that flu incidence did indeed decrease when schoolchildren were given Vitamin D3 supplements through the winter.

The study concludes that:

“Vitamin D(3) supplementation during the winter may reduce the incidence of influenza A, especially in specific subgroups of schoolchildren.” 3

A 2012 study found low levels of Vitamin D in those with autoimmune disease, and noted in their conclusion that:

“Cells of the immune system are capable of synthesizing and responding to vitamin D.” 4

In addition to Vitamin D supplementation, regular exercise also boosts immune function. Wintertime tends to promote a more indoor, sedentary lifestyle that is low in Vitamin D, so it makes sense to add exercise in with your immune-boosting efforts this winter.

4. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure may indicate that your Vitamin D levels are low.

Through a complex enzymatic process, your body forms a peptide that is able to increase blood pressure via artery constriction and retaining water and sodium. Vitamin D suppresses this enzymatic process so it does not activate inappropriately, thereby causing high blood pressure.

A meta-analiysis from 2011 clearly showed an inverse relationship between Vitamin D levels in the blood and hypertension.5 In other words, the lower the Vitamin D, the higher the blood pressure.

5. Feeling Sad

Sadness and depression can become worse in the winter, and low levels of sunlight (and subsequently low Vitamin D levels) play a significant role in this cycle.

A study analyzed the effects of Vitamin D3 supplementation on participants during the winter months, and the researchers concluded that:

“…vitamin D3 significantly enhanced positive affect and there was some evidence of a reduction in negative affect.” 6

Interestingly, when Vitamin D3 supplements were compared to anti-depressants in a 2014 study, the positive effect of Vitamin D3 on mood was comparable to the effects of the anti-depressants. 7

6. Being 50 Or Older Affects Your Vitamin D Metabolism

As we age, liver and kidney function tend to decline if not given special attention. The conversion of sunlight to Vitamin D involves both the kidneys and the liver, which are vital for synthesizing Vitamin absorbed in the skin into bioavailable, metabolically active Vitamin D3.

So if your liver and kidneys are not functioning well, your Vitamin D levels (and your bone health) will be compromised.

How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

When determining the optimal amount of Vitamin D and when sunlight is not an option, the dosage should be 2000 IU daily of oral Vitamin D3.

In previous posts, I recommended starting Vitamin D supplementation with the lowest possible dose based on the “Adequate Intake” guideline of 600 IU, and then increasing your intake as needed based on serum tests. Serum concentration of 25(OH)D is the best indicator of vitamin D levels, since it reflects the vitamin D produced from the sun and from supplements and food.

Blood levels between 40 and 70 ng/mL are associated with decreased risk of disease and healthier immunity, so those are the levels you should aim to get. However, given the importance of Vitamin D on so many body systems, 2000 IU is the ideal daily D3 dosage, especially in cold and dark winters.

A note on sunlight – you can’t overdose on Vitamin D if you get it from sun, so if there is any possible way to get your skin exposed to sunlight during the winter months, I highly recommend that you do. It’s simply the best way to get the Vitamin D you need. But if not, oral doses of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) are a more bioavailable form than straight Vitamin D.

When It Comes To Supplements, The Osteoporosis Reversal Program Leaves No Stone Unturned

Chapter 10 of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program goes into detail about the function (both for bone health and general health) and recommended dosage of each Foundation Supplement, from B-complex vitamins to zinc.

You see, your bones need specific nutrients to reverse bone loss and for optimal health, so the Program leaves no stone unturned when it comes to key supplements and how much is needed of each.

Everything in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program is backed by dozens of scientific studies, and the research continues to confirm the accuracy of its approach. You can rest assured that when you follow the Program, you are following scientific, factual, cutting-edge information that has been proven to rejuvenate bones.

And the best part is, no expensive drugs (with dangerous side effects) are necessary! The Osteoporosis Reversal Program is nutrition-based.

Please take a moment to check it out today.

Till next time,


1 Cranney C, Horsely T, O'Donnell S, Weiler H, Ooi D, Atkinson S, et al. Effectiveness and safety of vitamin D. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 158 prepared by the University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-02.0021. AHRQ Publication No. 07-E013. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2007.

2 Cannell JJ, et al. Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2006;134(6):1129–40.

3 Urashima, M., et al. “Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren.” Am J Clin Nutr. May 2010. (91(5):1255-60. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20219962

4 Aranow, Cynthia. “Vitamin D and the Immune System.” J Investig Med. August 2011. 59(6): 881-886. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/

5 Burgaz, A, et al. “Blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and hypertension: a meta-analysis.” J Hypertens. April 2011. 29(4): 636-45. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21191311

6 Lansdowne, A.T., and Provost, S.C. “Vitamin D3 enhances mood in healthy subjects during winter.” Psychopharmacology. February 1998. 135(4):319-23. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9539254

7 Spedding, S. “Vitamin D and depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis comparing studies with and without biological flaws.” Nutrients. April 2014. 6(4): 1501-18. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24732019

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Ita

    Thank you, Ita.

  2. Tiffany

    I started taking vitd 2000iu two days ago and am having some leg pain after I take the capsule, could this be related ? My Vit D level came back around 21000

    • Arjun

      I read an article on web, their they say, the pain occurs while the body heals or mineralize the bones if u are vitamin d deficient. And its pretty safe and normal to have pain aftet taking Vit D. As it literally heals our bones.

  3. Sam

    When was this published on?

    • Blah blah la

      Yeah, I’m with you on this question. If bloggers and those who publish info we would likely take as factual, would date the entries it would be so much easier to decide what we take away. And what we share with our Doctors!
      On the plus side, footnotes do include sources (but i rarely, if ever, actually look up any of these type references.)
      Just date your work!

  4. Sam

    What year, month, and day was this published on?

  5. Dominique

    I’ve been diagnosed with vit d about 2 months ago and I’m taking 20,000iu and still feel like I’m gonna fall to ground is there any answers with how others feel and are you still feeling the same this is so horrible and hard to feel like this constant through the day it draining .

    • Jo

      Vitacost. Com
      Thompson’s vitamin d3 2500 iu lemon flavor chewable (from fish)
      Always take with nowfoods k2mk7 supplement (100 micrograms)

      Amy Meyers never supplement d3 without k2mk7

      Herbdoc. Com shulze superfood

      Vitamindcouncil vit d 40-60ng/ml

      100 trillion good bacteria in gut make 85% of immune system
      Pickled planet sauerkraut and kimchi everyday for enzymes and probiotics

    • Blah blah la

      Have you checked your B12 levels? This is a thing. Lots of people don’t know that we carry seven years worth of B12 stored in our liver–so we shouldn’t be running out! If we are low, then something is seriously wrong, but treatable.
      I hope your doctor knows you “still feel like you’re gonna fall down”, cos he can’t help you with something he doesn’t know about. Another thing we overlook is getting adequate sleep. (I confess, this is my issue– actually felt like i was “gonna fall down” myself, a time or two. And I think there’s actually a connection with low D3, as well as low B12. Both are pretty crucial to optimum health.)

    • Marsha

      I have found that I needed to take a multivitamin with my vitamin D, I probably need magnesium or something else to help with absorption. I was pretty bad at taking them and started taking gummy vitamins instead which has made a difference. I also take a 10-30 minutes walk at least twice a week. It’s Probably not enough time in the sun but I feel every bit counts. I also need to take iron but I hate it so I actually try to eat more spinach and meat; not sure if that works. My husband also bought me liquor iron so I try to take that at least twice a week. Good luck, you probably should go to your doctor to find out if something else might be wrong.

      • Blah blah la

        Keep in mind that post-menopausal women (and pretty much all men and boys, unless otherwise instructed by doctor) shouldn’t need additional iron. Of course some do, but rare, i think, that males have an intrinsic deficit or other underlying issue that would call for supplementing iron. Younger women who are still menstruating, are actually losing iron each month, so replenishing might be worthwhile. I agree with the “spinach and red meat!” approach, in other words, get as much of your nutrients in your diet, THEN, supplement only if your Doc says you need to. I think randomly taking vitamins and supplements isn’t necessarily the best idea without guidance from a professional. At least get your levels tested, then supplement, test again, and compare to how you FEEL.

  6. Charnese C Brown

    I have been hospitalized several times due to muscle aches and chest pains, especially the muscles in my chest, even my underarms hurt. I am overweight, and sometimes my legs and arms cramp up, not to mention the pain in my legs and the heavy feeling and problems with my stomach all the time. I have even mentioned this to my PCP. It has been going on for several years, but yet every hospital and doctor I have encountered says that I’m healthy from head to toe after running blood tests, EKGs and CT’s. I am so tired of feeling terrible everyday of my
    Life. My mother said some years ago that it may have something to do with my vitamin D levels. Help!

    • Amanda

      A few ideas…
      When taking vitamin d3, always take magnesium along with it. In my experience, potassium is very important too and especially when supplementing vitamin d3 as it makes you lose it faster but it’s best to get from food sources. If you have a blood test done for magnesium, check the RBC as this is a more accurate indication of your levels. Also consider your omegas. We need a balance of omega 3’s, 6, & 9. Processed foods have a lot of omega 6 so can cause deficiencies in 3’s (personal experience there.) if you’re on any prescriptions, most of them can cause deficiencies in certain minerals/vitamins. For example my old blood pressure meds could create zinc and coq10 deficiencies, ironically those are both important for lowering blood pressure and relaxing the body! It is important to drink plenty of water daily, things like soda are terrible for the body and elevated blood sugar will keep you from healing. Vit c is great for helping the body cleanse. Avoid things like high fructose corn syrup and aspartame or things that say “natural flavors”(deceiving), they are really terrible for you. Practice deep, balanced breathing daily for fresh air in your lungs. Never give up hope in finding what works for you, we are all our own greatest advocates. Hope this helps someone. And before I forget, there are tests like NutraEval (you may need a doctor or naturopath of sorts to look over or order) that can be ordered that show vitamin levels in the body that will really get to the root cause of a lot of the body’s troubles. The body is all about balance, nutrients from foods to nourish us, and rest for the body to repair.

      • Enchante ayers

        Thanks. Your comment helped me out a lot.

    • Ella

      It’s kind of nice to know that I am not on my own I have also been hospitalised over the past few months with really bad chest pains and aches I’m only 22 each time I have been they have said I am healthy and it’s just anxiety I knew it wasn’t I knew there was something up I have recently had more bloods done and my vitamin D has come back and it’s 22 I just wondered if this could cause this much aching in my chest back and neck also I am very tired all the time but it’s the aching in the chest that’s bothering me the most

      • Kerry

        I am the.same…Chest pain Malaise. Told I am healthy. Vitamin D 24. I think the 2 of us have proven the connection!

        • Jo

          Thomas levy cardiologist optimal vitamin d 50-80ng/ml

          Sherry Rogers m.d. vit d 60-80ng/ml

          Amy Meyers never supplement d3 without k2mk7

          Nowfoods k2mk7 supplement
          Vitacost. Com Thompson d3 2500 iu lemon flavor chewable

  7. Anton

    WARNING: Do not take prescription vitamin D. It’s vitamin d2, and it’s terrible at being utlized in your body. You best bet is to buy over the counter vitamin d3.

    Here are some guidelines by Dr. Frank Lipman:

    If your blood level is above 45ng/ml and for maintenance, I recommend 2,000-4,000 IU daily depending on age, weight, season, how much time is spent outdoors, where one lives, skin color and obviously blood levels. In other words if you are older, larger, living in the northern latitudes during the winter, are not getting sun and have dark skin, I recommend the higher maintenance dose.

    If your blood level is 35-45 ng/ml, I recommend you correct it with 5,000 of vitamin D3 a day for 3 months under a doctor’s supervision and then recheck your blood levels.

    If your blood level is less than 35 ng/ml, I recommend you correct it with 10,000 of vitamin D3 a day under a doctor’s supervision and then recheck your blood levels after 3 months. It takes a good 6 months usually to optimize your vitamin D levels if you’re deficient. Once this occurs, you can lower the dose to the maintenance dose of 2,000 – 4,000 IU a day.

  8. Edwardo Urias

    tiffany co


  9. Laurie

    Hi Vivian,
    For the last two years on your program my bone density has been stable….which is better than it was before. My recent blood test showed vit D deficiency and was prescribed 50000iu Vit D prescription for 12 weeks. I am going to take it because we live where the sun does not shine very much at all. After this round of script….what is the best Vitamin D I can take? I currently take the True Osteo plant based calcuim which has Vit D already in it…but would like to supplement just the vit D….and would like to know the best supplement.

    • Blah blah la

      I realize this is a really old post (and i hope you are doing well), but I wanted to share something I read when i was learning about D3 deficiency. “PRESCRIPTION” D IS THE WORST SOURCE OF D3!!!
      I won’t go into the Big Pharma politics of it all (but feel free to read between the lines). The only way to be sure is to test at the beginning of treatment, again a few months later, and a few months after that. If you decide, “Great! Cured! Now i can quit these pills and go back to what i was doing,” you should test again several months later. My understanding is that once you’ve been diagnosed with a deficiency, you must monitor your levels forever, I guess. Changing lifestyle, ie getting more sun, eating better diet, more exercise would also be a reason to re-test levels. And since your doctor dx’d you, s/he has to order the labs, and insurance should pay for it! Good Luck!

    • Mona Bogart

      You should be directing such questions to your family physician. He will recommend what’s best for you to take. Buying Vitamin supplements is not always the right thing to do. Well meaning family & friends may try to tell you what is best for you to take but they aren’t doctors.

  10. Loreene

    Hi Vivian,
    I just purchased your program, I’ve been trying to follow for awhile. I’m on TPN (3x weekly) for the past 10yrs. At the beginning of last year I had asked to remove the lipids from the TPN and continue more for infusing the multi-vitamins & hydration & infuse iron and take other vitamins & minerals oral and eating much healthier. I have manage to keep everything normal without dropping weight It has taken me three years to get my calcium & Vitamin D level normal, it really affected my osteoporosis, this year the doctor asked me to infuse Aclasta and after my calcium & Vitamin D level dropped, increase to high dose of calcium & vitamin D again. I’m very concerned with having infused the Aclasta and now read about Aclasta, I should have read before infusing, but I had felt at the time the doctor wouldn’t ask me to take something that would damage further. I’ve made an appointment with my doctor, about using the OsteoCleanse in hopes that it will flush out the Aclasta & to inform her I’m going to trying your program without drugs for the whole year to see if I can increase my bone density. I have a bone density test next month before heading off to a family holiday in Cuba. I’ve had many fractures, took six month (lots of water exercise) to heal my fractured pelvic. For the past year I have worked very hard at getting bone healthy. I attend Aquasize classes 3x weekly and get on my treadclimber, specially when I’m not out in the gardens in the winter months. I wish I had read about your program 25 years ago when I was told I had Osteoporosis.

  11. Rosie

    I’m so glad I didn’t empty my spam without reviewing it first. The information you provide has been an “eye-opener” for me. My doctor prescribed prescription 40,000 iu Vitamin D once a week. My body wasn’t absorbing the lower daily Rx doses. I’ve been off Vitamin D for about a year and my depression and RA has been a lot worse. My new doctor is putting me back on Vitamin D & I’m looking forward to some relief. Also, my mom was recently diagnosed with Osteoporosis and apparently it’s hereditary. So anything I can do to keep my bones, I’m ready to try.

    I’m forwarding your info to my husband, he is a very healthy eater and exercises regularly but still has high blood pressure. Vitamin D may be the answer. Thank again for such valuable information.

  12. selva

    Hi Vivian,
    Thank you so much, for the article about vitamin D

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You are very welcome!

      • Cherylyn

        I just found out i am lacking it wanted to find out wat symptoms was . i get head sweats i gained weight ive got all the symptoms i ache real bad at times doc put me on a pill i take once a week i have depression my fat turned n2 blubber like quick im very ahamed of wats hapning from lack of it. N time will it get better and my skin is getn very light colored no energy its terrible im 55 yrs old i was always n the son and always petite this hapned over nt it seemed anything that i could do to better it would b fully appreciated thank u.

  13. Heather

    Thank you for the article! I assume you are recommending a higher dose when you think you are getting sick? If so, what would that dose be and for how many days?

  14. shula


  15. K. Gopal Rao

    A Q that arises is, how much Vita-D is too much. Wld appreciate feedback on this from Vivian. When I ask how much, does it mean that if one attains a satisfactory level of, say, 55, one shd continue till one reaches 70, or even 80 as some pundits have opined. I hv supplemented regularly over 2 yrs and and am wondering whether I shd reduce or stop supplementation since I hv reached 55 from 20 over these 2 yrs. In other words, at what level does it turn toxic, and what wld be the signs?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi K. Gopal Rao,
      This is why I advocate getting Vitamin D from sunlight as much as possible – you just can’t overdose that way. Megadoses, like 50,000IU daily for months, can cause hypervitaminosis D, characterized by symptoms such as nausea, poor appetite, and kidney problems…but this is quite rare. Avoiding the megadoses of oral supplements is key, and regulating your dosage based on factors like how much sunlight you typically get, your skin type, and your diet.

  16. Rolf

    Vivien I like your articles but I have a comment on the above article. You mention getting some sun in the winter “if there is any possible way to get your skin exposed to sunlight during the winter months, I highly recommend that you do”. It is my understanding that no amount of winter sunlight will produce any vitamin D because the UVB burns up in the atmosphere. One article that I have read said that if your shadow is longer than your height (winter) then you will not produce vitamin D. However if your shadow is your height or shorter, then you will produce vitamin D. Skin colour is another factor. The darker the skin the more time needed to produce the vitamin D.


    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Rolf,

      I covered the topic of Vitamin D and sunlight exposure in winter in this post:


      In that post, I write: “The trick to getting the most Vitamin D out of your daily sun exposure is to sunbathe when your shadow is shorter than your height. This means that in the winter, with the sunlight at a slant, your optimal sunbathing time is greatly narrowed down.

      Typically, you’ll get the most vitamin D if you go out between 10am and 2pm.”

      • Melissa

        In many areas you cannot make vitamin d from the sun at all between around October and mid March because the sun is not close enough. I live in Chattanooga, Tn so must supplement with D3 during those months because it is impossible to make vitamin d during that time from the sun.

  17. Betty

    I do take 2000 IU of Vit D a day but of late am getting more aches and pains in body. Getting less exercise because of winter and other circumstances. So hard to know when self treating what to take and how it balances out with everything else. I thought I was getting enough magnesium because I have the same calcium/mag ratio of 250 twice daily. I had a severe spasm in my ankle bone and up the side of my leg two nights ago and have other less intense ones in the past. Then there’s potassium – I checked food sources and not sure I am getting enough through diet. I will check my program book as a source for some of this information.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Good idea, Betty, and if you’re concerned, you can see if your doctor will do a serum test for Vitamin D.

  18. diana marcantono

    Yesterday I had an appointment with my doctor.Having been told I have osteoporosis in Nov of 2013 she is still trying to scare me into taking the osteoporosis drugs. I told her I am on the Save our bones program and would like to take another bone density test now and see if I have any type of improvement. She said ok but told me that she would have to note my chart that I refused her recommendation to take the osteoporosis drugs.Trying to stay strong but she made the future look bleak,and that the side effects are not as bad as the results of not taking them.Will be getting a another bone density test soon hoping the save our bones program helped me.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Don’t worry, Diana – stay strong in your convictions! If you need some help developing your “bone health philosophy,” which can help you stay strong when it’s tempting to give in to the mainstream medical approach, you can take a look at this post:


      Hang in there, and remember, if your bone density scan does not show higher numbers, your bones are likely much stronger (due to flexibility) than the rest of the population who eats an acidic diet. 🙂 The goal is to avoid fractures, and you’ve done that beautifully!

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