There are several signs of a vitamin D deficiency in women, including bone pain, muscle weakness, and renal or intestinal problems. A woman may also experience mood changes, unexplained depression, and low energy. A deficiency can lead to more serious complications, such as breast cancer or osteoporosis, and menopausal women are particularly at risk because of their low estrogen levels. In addition, pregnant women should be aware of the negative effects to both themselves and their fetuses from of a lack of vitamin D.
One of the most common symptoms of low vitamin D in women is bone pain. For many women, the pain reverberates throughout the entire skeletal system, but sometimes it can be concentrated in the legs or pelvic region. Other common symptoms are muscle weakness and fatigue, especially in the arms and legs, along with a decrease in muscle tone. In some cases, a sign of inadequate levels of vitamin D is osteomalacia, which is the softening of the bones, as well as frequent bone fractures.
Other signs are often so subtle that people do not notice them right away. Women with a vitamin deficiency might have unexplained depression or suffer from seasonal affective disorders because vitamin D influences the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates mood. They might also experience extreme mood changes during their menstrual cycles.
In addition, renal or intestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease can sometimes indicate a vitamin D deficiency. With those conditions, the body is unable to absorb the vitamin or convert it to a usable form. Further symptoms include low energy and cognitive impairment.
If left untreated, a vitamin D deficiency can increase a woman's risk for breast or ovarian cancer and cardiovascular diseases. In menopausal women, a deficiency can put them at greater risk for osteoporosis and brittle bones because the decrease in estrogen also affects the bone tissues.
A vitamin D deficiency in women who are pregnant can cause complications with both the mother and the growing fetuses. Some studies have shown that women with low vitamin levels may have a higher risk of Cesarean section, pre-eclampsia, vaginal infections, and gestational diabetes. Fetuses that do not get enough vitamin D can develop skeletal deformities, soft bones, or be born with rickets.