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Vitamin D Deficiency & Muscle Weakness

By Bridget Coila

Muscle weakness could be a sign of insufficient vitamin D. However, because this symptom is so vague and can also be the result of many other health problems, a report of muscle weakness alone is not typically considered a reliable indicator of a vitamin D deficiency. When muscle weakness is traced to a lack of vitamin D, treatment usually involves administration of supplemental vitamin D, a fairly simple and effective method of combating the problem.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D production occurs in the skin when triggered by the sun, but sometimes it can be difficult to get enough sunshine to produce sufficient amounts of this important nutrient. A few foods, including fortified dairy products and canned salmon or sardines, contain vitamin D, but these also might be unable to provide enough to prevent a deficiency. A blood test can reveal how much vitamin D you have in your system.

Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness can develop in people with low vitamin D levels, although this symptom doesn't appear in all people with deficiencies. For some, however, the appearance of muscle weakness can be the first sign that something is wrong. Muscle pain might be a more reliable indicator of a lack of vitamin D. In a 2003 study in the journal "Mayo Clinic Proceedings," 93 percent of patients reporting muscle pain at a Minnesota clinic were found to be deficient in vitamin D. Muscle weakness can also be an indicator of osteomalacia, a bone disorder caused by inadequate calcium and vitamin D levels.


Treating vitamin D deficiency is fairly straightforward, involving supplementation with oral vitamin D or getting high doses through a series of shots. Doses are determined by a doctor, who will base your treatment on the specific level of vitamin D in your blood and your personal health history. Some cases of deficiency may be treated with up to 600,000 international units, or 100 days worth, of vitamin D.


Vitamin D deficiency is impossible to self-diagnose, so contact a doctor if you suspect that you aren't getting enough of this valuable nutrient. Muscle weakness can have many different causes, so a vitamin D deficiency is not necessarily the source of any muscle problems you might encounter. Because vitamin D and calcium work together in the body, your doctor might advise adjusting your calcium intake along with any vitamin D supplementation.

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