Vitamin D helps keep the bones, teeth and muscles healthy, which it does by regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can easily be overlooked as they don’t always make you feel unwell. One symptom of the condition, for example, is pain in the lower back.
“Large observational studies have found a relationship between a deficiency and chronic lower back pain,” said medical website Healthline.
One study examined the association between vitamin D levels and back pain in more than 9,000 older women.
The researchers found those with vitamin D deficiency were more likely to have back pain, including severe back pain that limited their daily activities.
In another study, people with vitamin D deficiency were nearly twice as likely to experience bone pain in their legs, ribs or joints compared to those with blood levels in the normal range.
“Low blood levels of vitamin D may be a cause or contributing factor to bone pain and lower back pain,” said Healthline.
Health foods store Holland & Barrett also noted achy bones and joints can be a symptom of vitamin D deficiency, particularly in the back and knees.
“Vitamin D deficiency affects bone health which could result in a throbbing or achy feeling in your bones,” said Holland & Barrett.
“Those who don’t have enough of this important vitamin can develop rickets, osteoporosis, bone pain, and an increased risk of fractures.”
The main source of vitamin D is sunlight – the body creates vitamin D from sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
In the spring and summer months, most people get enough vitamin D from being outdoors, but in the autumn and winter, there is not enough sunlight to get our daily dose.
As a result, the UK Department of Health advises everyone take a supplement of vitamin D every day in the autumn and winter, in order to avoid deficiency.
Some people are also advised to take vitamin D supplements all year round.
This includes people who don’t get outdoors much, such as people who are frail, housebound or live in care homes.
People who usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors are also more at risk and too may want to consider taking vitamin D supplements all year round.
The same goes for people with dark skin from African, African-Caribbean and south Asian backgrounds.
“If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people. Don’t take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful,” said the NHS.