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Vitamin D deficiency probably related to restrictive diet... Any experts?

(35 Posts)
HariboFrenzy Thu 12-Jan-17 17:03:00

I've just been told my vit d levels are low. I've not spoken to the Dr yet so don't know the exact levels. The reason I was tested in the first place is I've been dairy and egg free for over 12 months as I'm breastfeeding DS who is allergic. Main symptom was poor memory.

I've googled vit d deficiency but can't find that much, especially about it affecting memory. Given my restricted diet is it likely that calcium will be affected too?

How long will it take for me to notice a difference?

Does this mean my ds is also likely to be affected too? Should he be tested too?? He is 19 months.

goldangel Thu 12-Jan-17 17:05:59

My then 7 year old was diagnosed with vitamin d deficiency, no restrictive diet.

lljkk Thu 12-Jan-17 17:38:09

We get most (vast majority of) our Vit D from sunshine, not diet, unless you live somewhere with routinely fortified foods.

Bettertobehealthy Thu 12-Jan-17 21:10:15

Hi haribo ,

Here are a couple of suggestions -
Firstly have a good look round here , concerning breastfeeding, childrens requirements and Vit D.

Secondly : have a good read of this thread - it is a long read , but will give you a good idea what levels you should aim for , why , how much to take , other peoples experiences etc etc.

If I was you , Yes, I would get DS tested. Especially if you are breastfeeding, here in the UK , because of lack of strong sunlight on your skin , particularly in winter , you are likely to have very little in your milk. ( Commonly 25 IU per litre ) . Your son needs to be receiving about 300 - 400 IU per day . from all sources. There is very little to be found in food , except where specifically fortified and it should tell you on the label. Cows milk contains no vitamin D. Formula milk is fortified with Vit D. A whole egg contains 40 IU a very small amount, , oily fish - contains a decent but not high amount , a diet containing wild caught oily fish every day would be necessary in order to get enough. There is no vitamin d in vegetables, fruits etc. A small amount in meat - depending upon how the animal was kept /supplemented.

try and follow government recommended supplements for children , it will raise their level to somewhere around 100 + nmol/litre ,

As they grow older , they will need more than currently recommended to ensure they keep those levels.

You should try and raise your own levels to those as well, for better overall health. Please have a look at those suggested links.

I have posted quite a bit about vit d here on mumsnet , search my nick. I try and give an overview of the latest knowledge/research into Vit D.

Hope this is helpful.


43percentburnt Thu 12-Jan-17 21:35:06

Btbh - I have a question, I hope you don't mind. I am bf twins, I do take a multi vit and the twins take a baby vitamin medicine (most days). i would like to take vit d supplements but am unsure how much per day, do you have any guidance?

Thank you

icyfront Thu 12-Jan-17 23:33:19

I started taking vitamin D tablets about 18 months ago, after reading what bettertobehealthy had posted to a thread then. Some of the symptoms I had back then did seem to fit with a lack of vitamin D – depression, low energy, and (as it turned out) poor memory.

I paid to have my blood tested, by the NHS hospital as listed on the website that bettertobehealthy linked to. I’ll quote the range of values they use, as that might be useful as a comparison to yours:

“Less than 15 nmol/L: severe deficiency
15 – 30 nmol/L: deficiency
30.1 – 50: insufficiency
Greater than 50: adequate
Above 220 nmol/L is considered ‘high’, and increase the risk of vitamin D toxicity.”

My first result was 59.8, which was barely above the minimum level of ‘adequate’. I started taking two vitamin D3 1000 IU (25 microgram) tablets daily during that autumn/winter/spring, and a re-test then showed 160, which was still regarded as ‘adequate’. But I had more energy and felt much less depressed.

I reduced down to one tablet a day during summer, as I was getting out of the house more since my general mood was much better. But increased it back to two at the beginning of September.

I think the range of values of the vit D blood test do need to be read in the context of the individual. Obviously there’s a significant call on your resources if you’re breastfeeding and you're egg- and dairy-free, so there’s bound to be lots of things where you need to be at or above the middle range of ‘adequate’, i.e. a lot more than 50 on that vit D scale. I had different factors: including being an older person, overweight, and sedentary.

I ran out of vit D tablets about six weeks ago. What with one thing and another (Christmas, crowded shops) I didn’t buy any supplies until a couple of weeks ago. But by that time, I had noticed a slide back into low mood and low energy. Now I’m back on two tablets a day, I feel so much better. I have no idea whether or not it was the lack of vit D tablets during those weeks that ended up in my feeling so low, but I’m not going to risk running out of them again.

Interestingly, or maybe not, when I saw a GP a couple of years ago, as I was depressed, low self-esteem, low energy, etc., I was prescribed anti-depressants, and they might have made a difference, except they upset my gut so I had to stop taking them. No blood tests were done, which might have shown a deficiency of some kind; but apparently testing for vitamin D isn’t done in many GP practices. Hopefully, more research into vitamin D will prompt more GPs to think about vit D deficiency.

I am grateful to bettertobehealthy for posting about vitamin D. It’s not a miracle cure; it won’t solve everyone’s problems; but I’ve found it just a bit easier to solve problems now I’m feeling that more-than-a-little-bit more energetic and clearer-headed.

Pallisers Thu 12-Jan-17 23:38:39

My GP told me that it is highly unusual for a woman to have the correct vit D levels, even very fit, healthy women who spend time outdoors - they nearly all test low (I was extremely low).

I take a supplement and my two daughters do too.

Bugsylugs Thu 12-Jan-17 23:45:02

OP vitamin D you cannot get a decent quantity from diet so doesn't really matter with regards to this vitamin about how restrictive your diet is. General advice is that we cannot get enough from Oct to March or so, so taking vit d supplements is generally recommend during winter months esp for more at risk groups. Evidence you should not test unless suspecting rickets and the like it is the trendy new test but goes against all scientific evidence. The reason you were tested is not advised by NiCE. Breastfeeding is a reason to supplement. 400 to 800 iu daily. I was properly deficient took nothing next test absolutely fine.

dotdotdotmustdash Thu 12-Jan-17 23:46:56

I had awful problems a few years ago, terrible bone pain, muscle weakness in my limbs and very low energy amongst a myriad of other symptoms (I was 39). I saw various specialists who ultimately diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia, but I wasn't convinced. I stumbled upon symptoms of Vit D deficiency syndrome and demanded to be tested for my 25OhD levels. They came back as 'undetectable' and my 16yr old Dd came back as 'less than 25' last year. We live in Scotland. A course of Vit D capsules resolved my problems and my Dd and I are both on them for life.

SortAllTheThings Thu 12-Jan-17 23:49:16

The only dietary effect would be calcium, as it assists with absorption of vit D. The dairy free diet won't help. What are your levels and are you taking any supplements?

HariboFrenzy Fri 13-Jan-17 06:57:02

Thanks for replies. BTBH thank you, will read those links.

Icyfront those reference ranges are helpful, thanks.

Bugsylugs in your opinion then, is poor memory unrelated to low vit d levels? It has deteriorated badly, to the point it has scared me if I'm honest. Should I be pressing this with the GP?

SortAllTheThings I don't know my levels yet. I had 3 missed calls and a voicemail from the drs surgery yesterday and when I called back the receptionist wasn't able to view my results, she just said the GP had noted I needed an appointment and 'it was vitamin D.'. I will ask when I have the appointment.

As an aside, the GP told me I was being tested for a wide range of things and not to call for results for 2 weeks - I only had it done Monday and they called yesterday!

ishouldcocoa Fri 13-Jan-17 07:07:52

I'm on Vit D supplements. No advice on combining it with BF, but it's such a valuable vitamin that so many of us lack.

I think you can get sprays from Holland and Barratt.

G1raffePicnic Fri 13-Jan-17 07:13:01

I was diagnosed vitamin D deficient a month ago. I'm having 2 months on 3200 and then another blood test.

I'm not sure my problems are related (if they were most women would be depressed, achey, too tired to function) but I'm trying to get them higher.

I also wonder, who sets the "recommended amount". If most women and children don't meet it how come it's not lower.

NewYearNewLife53 Fri 13-Jan-17 07:38:28

Bettertobehealthy, you're giving brilliant information here. Thanks! I've just looked at your other thread but am getting confused by all the nos, etc. Could you by any chance just list here in shortform :

- how much Vit D approx a 50 yr old, olive skinned fairly indoors lifestyle 10 stone woman might be recommended to take?

- is it advised to take it with both calcium and magnesium - and can these be adequately got from diet or is a supplement necessary?


Yddraigoldragon Fri 13-Jan-17 07:58:12

BTBH I also started taking D3 following your threads, feel pretty good now. I get my levels checked and keep it at the high end of the range, around 200 smile
I read something a while back about K2 so added that in, also calcium.

What do you think about the need for K2 alongside D especially if calcium is supplemented?

Mehfruittea Fri 13-Jan-17 08:27:50

I was diagnosed anemic in pregnancy and tested vit d deficient, but was not told. I found out after birth and we both started vit d supplements as they assumed baby would have some risk. I asked for calcium levels to be checked an was assured everything fine. 5 yrs on I have hyper parathyroidism. I'm on correct treatment now but was only recently diagnosed,being calcium deficient for 5 yrs. any vit d issues should also be looked at within context of calcium levels.

PollyPerky Fri 13-Jan-17 08:34:31

There is controversy over taking calcium supplements. I was diagnosed with quite advanced osteopenia in my late 40s. I had no risk factors though am petite (under 8st) which is a risk factor. (I'm not anorexic before anyone suggests that and have a normal BMI)

I did breastfeed both DCs and my son was intolerant to dairy so for 6 months I excluded it from my diet, but on top of that I also excluded it for myself for many years as I had eczema and it seemed to aggravate it.

I had my Vit D checked at the time I had my first bone scan and it came back as 'normal' though don't know the figure.

I had been supplementing with Osteocare- 800 mgs daily (calcium) but it also contains trace minerals and some Vit D.

However, there has been research showing calcium supps can cause heart disease (connected to hardening of the arteries by large intake all at once of a supplement). I've reduced my supplement to 400mgs (1 tablet) and am now eating dairy again. Not a huge amount but one pot of organic plain yoghurt a day, a small portion of cheese and I try to include plant milks (almond which is fortified) or lactose free milk.

I also try to get as much calcium and Vit D and calcium) through foods as i can- tinned sardines once week, salmon, almond butter, other nuts and green veg daily.

I'm now taking 2 Vit D tablets daily- twice the 'suggested' dose on the pot.

PollyPerky Fri 13-Jan-17 08:36:58

Oh and I eat eggs daily - one every day and 2 some days.

Mehfruittea Fri 13-Jan-17 10:52:00

I should have said I'm under the care of th hospital now and they have prescribed all my supplements. I have b12 injections, a weekly high dose vit d, daily multi vits and twice daily calcium. This is on top of extensive pain relief for widespread joint pain - a major symptom of deficiency.

Also have EDS and so have no idea if the pain is due to the now irreversible damage due to deficiencies I have had, or due to genetic condition that never impacted me a great deal before deficiency began.

IHeartKingThistle Fri 13-Jan-17 11:01:30

I was diagnosed with low vit D in the autumn. I thought I was really ill and was sleeping all the time. Couldn't believe it was a vitamin deficiency.

It took a few weeks to kick in but I'm a different woman now. Get the spray vitamin D.

G1raffePicnic Fri 13-Jan-17 12:58:13

I feel like that iheart. Don't think I've improved in a month. Will go back in a month though.

Yddraigoldragon Fri 13-Jan-17 18:08:43

Polly if I understand it right, vit k2 is the missing link between d3 and calcium. A bit like d3 releases the calcium, K2 moves it to where it needs to go for good use. It was a while ago that I looked it up, so this could be bonkers.

HariboFrenzy Mon 16-Jan-17 15:26:41

So I didn't speak to the GP today, and when I rang to chase up was told that my vit d levels were 'on the low side's and that I can buy supplements over the counter. Well I know this, I wanted to know what dosage to take!

I'm also concerned that levels 'on the low side' are having such an affect on my memory? Does this sound right?

I asked for a print out of my results and the secretary said she would have to check with the doctor?? Presumably the other results were ok as they weren't mentioned but interesting to see what they were.

Bettertobehealthy Tue 17-Jan-17 18:18:27

It is good to see how many people are finding out the benefits of vitamin D . Your own health is dependent upon your body's level.

VitD3 becomes a hormone , unlike other vitamins. It becomes a hormone that is substrate limited . That means your body cannot make more of it ( if required) unless you have enough precursor , available to all your cells. VitaminD3( from supplement or UVB,sun exposure) , is the precursor, 25D3 is the intermediate step, that is measured in your blood by doctors tests, finally 1,25D3 is the Vitamin D hormone form. Your body orchestrates the conversions in a fairly complicated interaction with other signalling compounds. ( one of which is parathyroid hormone)

As the hormone form, the final conversion to a compound called 1,25 D3, enables your cells to read genes and thus produce the products of, or change the behaviour of those cells as is required. If that process is hindered , by low VitD3, at any step, then illness of various types can result. Both short latency ( rickets in children, etc ) or long latency such as osteoporosis, osteopenia , osteomalacia , autoimmune problems, MS, cancers etc in adults. At least 2000 genes are affected, that is about 10% of your entire genome. Myriad bodily processes are affected.

Throughout human evolution , our blood levels of 25D3 were in the region of 120 -140 , it is only when we caused the production of VitD3 , to be curtailed by changing our environment, less sun, migrating North where sunlight is weaker, covering up our skin , etc etc that we have now engineered a situation that results in many /most of us being low in a vital hormone. Taking a long view, Europeans moved into Northern climes about 10,000 years ago , at this juncture , we had a white skin mutation in our genes which allowed us to make more VitD3 from the very limited sunlight, this allowed us to somewhat better survive where other primates cannot. All other primates live below 33 degrees latitude where UVB in sunlight is stronger.. Our physiology developed at low latitudes and if changes in our environment causes our blood levels of a vital hormone to reduce, you can of course expect consequences. Persons that live outside a lot, in that kind of ancient sunny environment achieve those levels. As Westerners ,we generally do not. That is why doctors very often say , "we are all low"...or something like that. If you put a Westerner into that kind of ancient environment his blood levels rises , exactly as expected, to those ancient levels..

It is the realisation of the above situation , by some, that has allowed us to understand how and what levels of vitamin d are required , how sunlight or supplements or artificial sunlight can be used to replicate the healthy levels that we need. It is a mistake to think that just because most people have a similar low level, that level is all that is required. Currently, in the UK , we expect to see blood levels of 25D3 of about 30 -70 , depending upon time of year. Many people are even below that. They have an increased risk of many diseases. Diet , in general, cannot supply all that we need.

One of the most convincing arguments for the above explanation for Vit D deficiencies is the conundrum of human milk. Throughout evolution , until relatively recently , human milk contained every nutrient required for baby. If it did not, then we would not be here.
But now, in modern times, human milk is deficient in Vitamin D generally down to about 25 IU per litre. ( UK ) People living in that ancient environment nowadays have levels around 400 IU per litre. This level is exactly what we recognise to be the optimum.( Incidentally - This figure of 400 IU is duplicated by formula milk.) . We should be asking ourselves the Question - Howcome .. ? The answer is that modern mothers do not have sufficient VitD3 in their milk , because their intake is insufficient. The problem has become worse in the last few hundred years , and in the last 50 years much worse than even that. Indoor living, sunscreen, overzealous avoidance of sun , consumption of vegetable oil rather than animal fat containing VitD etc etc.

It is important to grasp the whole picture , do not suddenly bask in intense sunlight on a foreign holiday , if you are white skinned. Burning is not beneficial , but is harmful. Try to ensure you get a modest dose of VitD3 daily , that is what your body needs, whether breastfeeding or not , you require enough VitD3 to enable your body ( cells) to maintain normal functioning. Levels of 120 – 140 of 25D3 in the blood will do that …!

Here I am trying to explain what is happening , and why many people with a western lifestyle are low in Vitamin D . I hope this is helpful.


HariboFrenzy Tue 17-Jan-17 18:47:40

So I have a copy of my results now, and vit d is 36. Am I right in thinking that 1000 raises the level by 25? (Going by crappy memory and can't remember the units).

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