Vitamin D deficiency can cause musculoskeletal pain and muscle dystrophy, warns pharmacist

The body needs vitamin D for a variety of reasons including strengthening the immune system. During the summer, our body can produce all the vitamin D it needs from the sun and our diet. However, during the winter, it can’t as the sun isn’t as powerful and the days aren’t as long. As a result, this can cause a vitamin D deficiency, one which needs to be remedied to prevent complications.

In common with other medical conditions, vitamin D can cause a range of symptoms.

Two of these symptoms are musculoskeletal pain and muscle dystrophy, medical terms for bone pain and muscle weakness respectively.

This is according to Boots’ Lead Pharmacist, Bina Mehta.

Speaking to, she said: “In adults, deficiency in vitamin D can cause bone pain and muscle weakness, although these symptoms may be very subtle. It’s worth visiting your GP if you are experiencing either of these symptoms on an ongoing basis.”

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Should a vitamin D deficiency be suspected, this will be confirmed by a blood test, a method described by Ms Mehta as “the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body”.

Ms Mehta added that people should “speak to [a] GP or pharmacist if you are not experiencing any symptoms but are concerned that your vitamin D levels may be low”.

Furthermore, Ms Mehta said this followed a trend in the UK of low overall levels of vitamin D. She wrote: “An ongoing study of the UK population shows that vitamin D levels remain low overall, and this puts people at risk of poor muscle and bone health.

“The Government therefore recommends that everyone, as a minimum, take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D during autumn and winter, primarily to support their bones and muscles.”


During the winter, the Government and the NHS recommends consuming vitamin D supplements in order to boost levels and obtain the benefits the vitamin confers.

As well as strengthening the immune system, vitamin D helps to keep the bones, teeth, and muscles in good health.

Food based sources of the vitamin include:
• Oily fish
• Red meat
• Liver
• Egg yolks
• Fortified foods.

However, should these be taken with supplements, there is the danger of a person taking too much, something with its own set of risks.

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What happens if I take too much vitamin D?

The daily recommended ceiling for vitamin D intake is 4,000IU or 100 micrograms.

Consistently exceeding this could lead to the very thing that vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of weak bones.

On taking too much vitamin D, the NHS says: “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.

“Do not take more than 100 micrograms (4,000 IU) of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful. This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17 years.”

However, there are two points to note about vitamin D overdose: doctor’s advice and nature.

The NHS explains further: “Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor. If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.

“You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you’re out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.”

As a result, in common with other nutritional based intakes, vitamin D consumption is all about balance.

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