Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency In the Elderly

Amongst the essential minerals, vitamins, and compounds needed by the body to function normally, vitamin D happens to be the most important. It is a compound that is specifically designed to strengthen the bones and help prevent related and other types of cancers. The problem is that while people tend to focus on consuming diets that largely contain proteins and carbohydrates etc. the intake of vitamin D is mostly ignored. 

The reason is that people are not aware of its importance and benefits to the body. And since the signs of vitamin D are usually subtle, most people do not realize that they are low on it. If you have an elderly in the house who is suffering from vitamin D deficiency, you should look out for the signs outlined below.

What is Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency means that your body does not have the sufficient or the required amount of vitamin D to enable it to operate smoothly. Vitamin D is a unique compound and is produced by our skin when exposed to sunlight. Individuals who have fair skin tend to convert sunlight into vitamin D comparatively better than dark-skinned individuals or individuals over 50 years old. 

Why Is Vitamin D So Important?

A human body does not only require vitamins and minerals to maintain and develop itself. Infact, there are many other important compounds that come together to keep it healthy and functioning without any problems. The first most important role of vitamin D is keeping the bones strong. If you have healthy bones, you reduce the chances of bone-related diseases such as rickets. Rickets is a problem most common amongst children that refers to weak and soft bones. The primary reason for such bones is the deficiency of vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed by the body so that both calcium and phosphorus can be used to build bones. 

Another major benefit of vitamin D is that vitamin D along with calcium helps keep the bones strong and healthy. Its deficiency can lead to a condition called osteoporosis, which is associated with the loss of bone density, increasing the chances of fractures. You can intake vitamin D orally or use sunlight to produce it. Exposure to sunlight produces an active form of vitamin D that promotes optimal absorption of calcium from your diet. 

In addition to that, vitamin D is required by the parathyroid glands that work 24/7 to balance the calcium level in your body. This is done by the glands communicating with the gut, kidneys, and skeleton. If the body happens to have a sufficient amount of vitamin D and calcium, the dietary calcium is absorbed and put to good use by the body. However, if the body is suffering from vitamin D deficiency, the glands will borrow it from the skeleton and keep the blood calcium in the normal range. 

Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

Getting Sick or Infected Often

Apart from keeping the bones strong, vitamin D has an important role to play in keeping your immune system strong so that it is able to fight viruses and bacteria that lead to different kinds of illnesses. Vitamin D directly communicates with the cells to fight against infection. If you observe that you get sick regularly, it might be that you are running low on vitamin D. Several studies have been conducted to study the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and health concerns like cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis. 

The studies have found that the low levels of vitamin D make the body more vulnerable to such types of respiratory infections. Furthermore, studies suggest that the intake of vitamin D supplements of up to 4,000 IU daily helps keep respiratory tract infections at bay. 

Fatigue and Tiredness

Fatigue and tiredness are also caused due to the deficiency of vitamin D. Unfortunately, this is overlooked as a potential cause. Several studies have shown that low blood levels in the body can lead to severe negative effects that impact the quality of life. The average and normal vitamin D level should be 20 ng/ml. If the level happens to be low, you will feel tired and fatigued. This is also why people sometimes complain of chronic daytime fatigue and headaches. 

Moreover, women who complain of fatigue tend to have low levels of vitamin D as well. Then again, several studies have been specifically conducted to address this issue and found that women who tend to have low blood and vitamin D levels are more likely to suffer from fatigueness. Since fatigue and tiredness are caused due to many other reasons as well, people mostly overlook the possibility of vitamin D deficiency. 

Bone and Back Pain

When it comes to the bone and especially the back, vitamin D plays a crucial role in keeping them healthy. For one, it helps improve the absorption of calcium by the body. If you observe an elderly experiencing bone and lower back pain, it might be due to inadequate levels of vitamin D. Large observational studies have found a direct relationship between low vitamin D levels and chronic lower back pain. One study conducted on 9,000 older women found that those who had low vitamin D levels were relatively more prone to back pain. Not only that, but the deficiency of vitamin D in the body might also lead to pains in the legs, ribs, or joints. 


Believe it or not, a depressed mood is also a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Recent studies have associated vitamin D deficiency with depression especially in older adults. In one observational study, it was found that those who had lower vitamin D levels suffered from depression. However, other controlled studies conducted on the same subject did not conclude a relationship between the two. 

Although the controlled studies carry a lot of scientific weight but the results were mostly rejected due to a very low dosage of vitamin D given. Furthermore, the researchers stated that the studies did not last long enough to allow scientists to properly study the effects. 

Impaired Wound Healing

If you observe that an elderly is having a tough time healing wounds, it might be due to the deficiency of vitamin D. Since seniors tend to undergo surgeries for various reasons, it is important that the wounds heal within time and properly.  Test-tube studies have shown that the intake of vitamin D increases the production of compounds that help form new skin, which is a part of the wound-healing process. 

In addition to that, vitamin D has also been found to control inflammation and fighting infection, which is key to proper healing. This is particularly important for diabetic patients who suffer from infections such as foot infections. However, at the moment there is little evidence suggesting the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and healing of wounds. The studies that have been conducted how positive results though. 

Bone Loss

As mentioned earlier, vitamin D has an important role to play when it comes to calcium absorption and bone metabolism. Since bonelessness tends to be common amongst the elderly, it is believed that they should increase their intake of vitamin D along with calcium. Low bone density means that your bones have lost calcium and other vital minerals needed to keep them strong and healthy. Even though studies have provided mixed results but the fact of the matter is that increasing the intake of vitamin D and maintaining blood levels is a good strategy for protecting bone mass and reducing the risk of fractures. 

Hair Loss

Many people believe that hair loss is associated with stress and most of them are right. However, if the hair loss tends to be severe, it might be due to vitamin D deficiency. Although there is very little research supporting the deficiency of vitamin D and hair loss in women but that is certainly the case. While vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets amongst children, it can also lead to Alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disease associated with loss of hair from the head and other parts of the body. 

If the body happens to be low on vitamin D, it can lead to alopecia areata as well. You should also know that hair loss is also associated with other nutrients as well and not just vitamin D. Therefore, if an elderly is suffering from severe hair loss, you might want to consider other nutrients as well. 

Final Word

Vitamin D is an important compound found in the body but most people happen to be unaware of it. The reason is and as mentioned earlier, the signs are subtle and hardly noticeable. It is hard to determine whether a specific problem is due to vitamin D deficiency. Fortunately, vitamin D deficiency is easy to fix. You can either increase sun exposure or the intake of supplements.