Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency Most People Miss

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 117

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms

With flu season upon us and serious new viruses like Enterovirus D68 making the rounds, keeping blood levels of vitamin D at optimal levels can be truly lifesaving especially for children and the elderly.

Flu is actually vitamin D deficiency disease, not a happenstance occurrence in your life because you didn’t get a flu shot or sat next to a coughing person on the train to work.

Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council and one of the most preeminent Vitamin D researchers in the world today, has identified that vitamin D helps produce the antimicrobial peptides that protect against the flu. This is why people are more prone to the flu in winter when Vitamin D producing sunshine is minimal or nonexistent at some latitudes, or people are too bundled up to get enough skin exposed in  the first place.

Bolstering Dr. Cannell’s suggestion that vitamin D deficiency is why people get the flu, a study published in the journal Nature Immunology further explains how vitamin D protects us by properly activating T cells, an important part of the immune system:

“When a T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it extends a signaling device or ‘antenna’ known as a vitamin D receptor, with which it searches for vitamin D.

This means the T cell must have vitamin D or activation of the cell will cease. If the T cells cannot find enough vitamin D in the blood, they won’t even begin to mobilize.”

This is troubling given that vitamin D levels were reported by the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009 to have plummeted for every single age, race, and ethnic group in the United States over the past two decades.

Vitamin D deficiency is such that it can lurk unnoticed until it is too late and you are already sick.  Another challenge is that it takes time, usually at least several weeks, to raise vitamin D levels and so a few days of taking supplements is not going to cut it especially if you have a serious deficiency challenge to overcome or already have the flu.

Below are 10 signs that vitamin D is likely a problem and potentially a serious deficiency that needs to be addressed immediately.  If any of these symptoms are an issue for you, a simple vitamin D blood spot test that you can order online can verify that this is the case.

If low levels do indeed need to be addressed, the best whole food based supplement to bring vitamin D levels into optimal range without the danger of overdosing (like with prescription vitamin D drops) is fermented cod liver or skate liver oils (where to find).

1.  Chronic Pain

Bone pain and chronic pain in general is a subtle symptom of serious vitamin D deficiency.  Don’t take this symptom lightly!  Get your vitamin D levels checked and address the problem.

A study conducted by Greg Plotnikoff, MD, senior consultant with the Allina Center for Health Care Innovations, makes the point.  150 people living in Minneapolis who came to a health clinic complaining of chronic pain were tested for vitamin D levels. Virtually every single one, 93%, suffered from extremely low vitamin D. “The group with the lowest levels of vitamin D were white women of childbearing age,” Plotnikoff says.

2.  Muscle Weakness

Here’s a shocker most folks don’t realize:  most muscle weakness issues are low vitamin D related.  The National Institutes of Health reports that a person suffering from a vitamin D deficiency will have trouble with proper muscle function.

3.  Psoriasis

This extremely common skin issue is an autoimmune disorder that many don’t realize can be vitamin D related. This nutrient plays an important role in the treatment of psoriasis.  Psoriasis gets worse over time and spreads, so even if you only have a little spot on your elbow or knee, get your vitamin D levels checked and be sure to be taking a daily dose of fermented cod liver oil.

4. Constant Fatigue

Vitamin D is necessary for the body to produce energy. If you are constantly tired or must lean heavily on that morning cup of Joe to get going in the morning, best to play it safe and get your levels checked.

5. Depression

No, it’s not all in your head!  Feelings of hopelessness can be related to simple nutritional deficiency. The Vitamin D Council reports that vitamin D is critical for the brain to produce the happy hormone seratonin.   Some folks only suffer from depression during winter months, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is caused by lack of sun exposure and hence vitamin D during this time of year.

6.  Sweaty Head

This is quite possibly the weirdest symptom of vitamin D deficiency.  Old time doctors apparently used to ask new mothers if their heads were sweatier than normal in order to pinpoint a lurking vitamin D deficiency as reported by NDHealthFacts.  A sweaty head is also a subclinical symptom of rickets, possibly the most prominent and dangerous form of vitamin D deficiency in children.

7. Constant Respiratory Problems 

This warning symptom is related to flu as a vitamin D deficiency disease.  If low vitamin D puts people at risk for flu, it stands to reason they would be at risk for other respiratory problems too and possibly on a chronic basis.   Studies have demonstrated that vitamin D protects against respiratory illness particularly in children, who require hospitalization most frequently due to bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

Scared of Enterovirus D68?  The most proactive step you can take is to make sure your children are taking a daily dose of fermented cod liver or skate liver oil!

8.  Hypertension and/or Cardiovascular Disease

My mother helped resolve serious high blood pressure issues with a daily dose of fermented cod liver oil.  Her success in this regard is in line with the Vitamin D Council which recommends adequate vitamin D levels in order to avoid this silent, symptomless killer which afflicts 1 out of every 3 US adults (and 4 in 10 worldwide).

In addition, the National Institutes of Health has identified vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor which can lead to congestive heart failure.

9. Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is a growing health concern and a primary and powerful predictor for premature cardiovascular disease.

Not surprisingly, given that cardiovascular disease itself indicates a likely vitamin D deficit, research indicates that those that suffer from chronic kidney disease are also D deficient in a big way.

10. You are an Infection Magnet

If you suffer from one infection after another, it is wise to get those vitamin D levels checked pronto.  As described above, T cells which are an important part of the immune system, are properly activated by vitamin D.  So, if levels are low or even undetectable, adequate and effective immune response to any infection in the body will be severely hampered.

Do you suffer from any of these 10 symptoms?  If so, do you suspect a vitamin D deficiency?  Did you already take action and get a blood spot test or start taking fermented cod liver or skate liver oil?   What did you find out and what have your results been?

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Sources and More Information

6 Little Known Signs of Adrenal Fatigue

Vitamin D Deficiency is Why You Get the Flu

The Vitamin Deficiency that is Written all Over Your Face

Vitamin D Deficiency and Chronic Pain

Vitamin D and Hypertension

Serious Lack of Vitamin D Warning Signs

Macrobiotic Diet and Extreme Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D in Mushrooms?

Sulphur: The Forgotten Nutrient

Flu is Vitamin D Deficiency Disease

Vitamin D and Chronic Kidney Disease

Fish Eggs: Superior Vitamin D Boost

Picture Credit

Vitamin D Intake in Young Children with Acute Respiratory Infection


Comments (117)

  • Joycee Bastain

    Hi everyone, today I want to share about this vitamin d deficiency. When I was pregnant, in initial stage I got vitamin d deficiency. My doctor suggested to eat fruits which have vitamin d and to sit under the sun for an hour everyday to absorb some quality and quantity vitamin d. Because if my vitamin d level didn’t increase then my baby could have less weight while birth. So I took it seriously and I got a healthy baby girl. During that time, I read many articles regarding this and I want to share one link among many:

    April 13th, 2016 2:07 am Reply
  • Douglas

    Very good explanation on this subject , I will come site fan of yours .

    April 5th, 2016 10:59 pm Reply
  • Joycee Bastain

    I never know about these risk factors for vitamin d deficiency. When I came to know about the deficiency of vitamin d in me, I used to study many articles regarding this. Some risk factors are:
    1. Dark Skin
    2. Veganism
    3. Digestive Conditions
    4. Obesity
    5. Limited Sun Exposure

    If anyone wants to know more about this, can visit this link:

    March 30th, 2016 5:27 am Reply
  • Sue

    Both my husband and myself had our levels checked via blood test … We were both scary low .. hubs was a 12 and mine was a 6 .. minimum level from that lab was 30 … it has been super hard to raise our levels. it took us almost 2 years at 50kIU a week to get close to the minimum. Though we both do have some issues with our Vitamin D receptor genes so that is likely part of the problem.

    October 22nd, 2015 10:21 pm Reply
    • Annie

      Recently neglected my daily D intake of 1000 IU. After labs, my physician prescribed 50,000 IU once a week for two months, then she will repeat labs. She is an excellent physician, do I’m confident my levels will be back to normal at next lab check.

      February 17th, 2016 2:24 am Reply
  • Joel

    It is best to have your levels tested before supplementing but the odds are most of us will benefit. A recent study found that the current recommendations (RDA) are 10 times too low!

    April 7th, 2015 6:13 pm Reply
  • Gwen larsen

    I appreciate your information!! I have a question about cod liver & krill oils, before I order one or the other. Saw your reference for a source to purchase called radiant Life & I have posed this same question to them? but in case they do not reply, I’m quite sure I could benefit from more K3 since I’ve taken calcium & d for 30 years & still have osteoporosis. :-( but! the smell of cod liver oil once nearly made me gag, let alone the taste! which specific brand would NOT do either to someone with a sensitive nose & pallet?
    Thanks for your reply (and potentially, products you recommend)
    Gwen larsen

    March 10th, 2015 10:15 am Reply
    • mike44

      “Calcium” as a supplement is a sales-scam Try eating vegetables instead!

      August 8th, 2015 3:02 pm Reply
  • DietsUSA

    Very interesting article. Thank you !

    January 30th, 2015 3:55 am Reply
  • Stacie

    Sarah, where can I find the amounts for children and adults for daily consumption of the Cod Liver/Butter blend? I have a 9yo, 13yo, 15yo.

    December 16th, 2014 2:35 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      My post on “Doctor’s Orders: Why Your Family Needs Cod Liver Oil” has a graphic that contains the recommended dosages.

      December 17th, 2014 9:19 am Reply
      • Merle

        Are you still recommending fermented cod liver oil?

        October 23rd, 2015 8:59 am Reply
        • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          Yes, I take it myself as I have since it first came out around 2007. The “proof” put forth wasn’t very convincing to me especially in light of the favorable results we’ve had with it in my family. Seemed more like a personal ax to grind IMO.

          October 23rd, 2015 1:01 pm Reply
  • Carole

    We use the liquid drops we buy in the Health store. It really does help. I hope this helps you.

    November 26th, 2014 4:05 pm Reply
  • Siobhan

    I was immediately drawn to your article, wondering what OTHER weird symptoms of vitamin D deficiency you were going to list. The respiratory infections one was interesting to me, because I had several years of winter bronchitis before I realized that I was vitamin D deficient, and really haven’t had it at all since then.

    The thing that tipped ME off to my vitamin D deficiency, though, is something you didn’t list – extreme itching. The evening of Jan 20, about 7 years ago, I suddenly got horribly itchy. My neck, my ribs, my eyelids, inside my ears, the palms of my hands… After a day, I gave in and went to the doctor, who prescribed an antihistamine. Worked almost immediately. For a week. And so the winter continued, with me taking one antihistamine pill every week, when I noticed that I started scratching. Finally went away in May or June. Came back the following December. About a month later, it occurred to me that vitamin D deficiency might explain things. So I bought some vitamin D pills, took them daily, and the itching went away.

    Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    November 25th, 2014 10:49 am Reply
    • Shasta

      Thank you for posting this! Lately, I have been itching, especially sharp, pin-prickly-type on my ribs! Feels as if someone is poking me with needles, and then itches. I used to take cod liver oil, but got too distracted and it has fallen off my list of “important” things. I need to go to town this week, so will pick some more up and take it.

      October 20th, 2015 10:25 am Reply
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  • Meg Mangin, RN

    This is a very misleading article. The vitamin D metabolite that binds with the vitamin D receptor to activate the immune system is 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D (calcitriol). This is not the form of vitamin D that is tested to determine ‘deficiency’. This active form of vitamin D can actually be too high when 25-hydroxyvitamin-D (calcidiol) is low. Dr. Cannell is not an expert on vitamin D, but a promoter who stands to profit by urging the general population to take vitamin D supplements. If your calcitriol is normal, you are not vitamin D deficient. Studies have failed to demonstrate that vitamin D supplementation is effective to prevent any disease. Elevated calcitriol can cause all kinds of inflammatory symptoms. To be sure you are not at risk of harm due to excess vitamin D, ask your doctor to measure calcitriol if your calcidiol is low.

    November 12th, 2014 9:55 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      This comment is exactly the reason I pay zero attention to conventional medicos!

      November 12th, 2014 10:09 am Reply
      • Donna

        I would like to know why Meg’s advice is wrong. Can you explain why her reasoning isn’t correct? Thanks!

        November 28th, 2014 2:05 pm Reply
        • Kerem

          I would also like to know, as I am Vitamin D deficient and taking suplements but this point of reasoning is valid and needs to be researched more, what do you think Sarah?

          March 10th, 2015 1:45 pm Reply
          • Stephen H. Li

            { “Vitamin D is a generic designation for a group of fat-soluble, structurally similar sterols including ergocalciferol D2 from plants and cholecalciferol D3 from animals. Vitamin D in the body is derived from 2 sources: exogenous (dietary: D2 and D3) and endogenous (biosynthesis: D3). Endogenous D3 is produced in the skin from 7-dehydrocholesterol, under the influence of ultraviolet light. Both forms of vitamin D are of similar biologic activity.

            Vitamin D is rapidly metabolized in the liver to form 25-hydroxy (OH) vitamin D. Additional hydroxylation of 25-OH vitamin D takes place in the kidney by 1-alpha hydroxylase, under the control of parathyroid hormone, to yield 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D.

            1,25-Dihydroxy vitamin D is the most potent vitamin D metabolite. It stimulates calcium absorption in the intestine and its production is tightly regulated through concentrations of serum calcium, phosphorus, and parathyroid hormone.

            1,25-Dihydroxy vitamin D levels may be high in primary hyperparathyroidism and in physiologic hyperparathyroidism secondary to low calcium or vitamin D intake. Some patients with granulomatous diseases (eg, sarcoidosis) and malignancies containing nonregulated 1-alpha hydroxylase in the lesion may have elevated 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D levels and hypercalcemia.

            1,25-Dihydroxy vitamin D levels are decreased in hypoparathyroidism and in chronic renal failure.

            While 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D is the most potent vitamin D metabolite, levels of the 25-OH forms of vitamin D more accurately reflect the body’s vitamin D stores. Consequently, 25HDN / 25-Hydroxyvitamin D2 and D3, Serum is the preferred initial test for assessing vitamin D status. However, in the presence of renal disease, 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D levels may be needed to adequately assess vitamin D status.” }


            { “Many practitioners become confused when ordering a vitamin D test. Because 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is the active form of vitamin D, many practitioners think that measuring 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is an accurate means to estimate vitamin D stores and test for vitamin D deficiency, which is incorrect. Current Endocrine Society guidelines recommend screening for vitamin D deficiency in individuals at risk for deficiency. Serum levels of 1,25-dihyroxyvitamin D have little or no relationship to vitamin D stores but rather are regulated primarily by parathyroid hormone levels, which in turn are regulated by calcium and/or vitamin D. In vitamin D deficiency, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels go up, not down.” } –

            { “25-hydroxyvitamin D
            When calcium is low and/or a person has symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, such as bone malformation in children (rickets) and bone weakness, softness, or fracture in adults (osteomalacia), 25-hydroxyvitamin D usually is ordered to identify a possible deficiency in vitamin D.

            The test may be requested when an individual is known to be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Older adults, people who are institutionalized or homebound and/or have limited sun exposure, those who are obese, who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, and/or who have fat malabsorption are at an increased risk of a vitamin D deficiency. Also included in this group are people with darker skin and breastfed infants.

            25-hydroxyvitamin D is often requested before an individual begins drug therapy for osteoporosis.

            1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D
            When calcium is high or a person has a disease that might produce excess amounts of vitamin D, such as sarcoidosis or some forms of lymphoma (because immune cells may make 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D), 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D usually is ordered. Rarely, this testing may be indicated when abnormalities of the enzyme that converts 25-hydroxyvitamin D to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D or renal disease are suspected.

            When vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, or magnesium supplementation is necessary, vitamin D levels are sometimes measured to monitor treatment effectiveness.” }

            So apparently parathyroid complications / kidney disease / renal failure / metabolic disease, like Diabetes T2 have a role upon the status of 25-hydroxyvitamin D to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Some of which impact the enzyme coversion factor towards 25H-D to 1-25DiH-D.

            Sarcoidosis and lymphoma health status may play a role in 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D status.

            Direct sun light to skin exsposure along with Liver health status can have an effect on 25-H-D status.

            If 25-H-D stores are affected or if the enzyme to help covert to 1-25-H-D or if there are other health conditions complicating the internal environment, then Vitamin D status my be compromised.

            October 23rd, 2015 12:48 am
  • Stacie

    I just found out I am pregnant, but also with those results we found my Vitamin D level was at a 4. I’ve been taking 500mg fermented cod liver oil for a month. How much would be safe to take to raise my levels? My Dr. Prescribed Vitamins D but I would rather take a more natural supplement. What suggestions do you have? Thank you for your research and sharing your knowledge with others!

    November 10th, 2014 6:26 am Reply
  • pamela

    What do you recommend for adult children who are deficient but who have become vegetarians for humanitarian reasons and will refuse any supplement derived from formerly living creatures?

    October 21st, 2014 9:49 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      There really isn’t any option that isn’t animal based.

      October 21st, 2014 11:28 am Reply
      • Pamela

        So then what do vegetarians do if they need to supplement Vitamin D?

        October 21st, 2014 3:20 pm Reply
        • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          There isn’t an option for natural vitamin D that is plant based. Irradiated mushrooms have a little D2, but this is not the type of D you really need and certainly not enough. See the article on this at the bottom of this post.

          October 21st, 2014 11:05 pm Reply
        • Jeanmarie

          There isn’t a “vegetarian option” for everything. They need to stop being vegetarians — but only if they want to restore their health.

          November 10th, 2014 1:30 am Reply
        • Sis

          Get out in the sun! :) I’m surprised this wasn’t mentioned at all.

          January 27th, 2015 11:30 am Reply
          • Zainab

            The sun will be gone in a few weeks lol

            October 20th, 2015 6:42 am
      • Connie

        Yes, there is a plant based supplement for Vitamins.

        November 12th, 2014 5:43 pm Reply
        • Louise

          I’m taking D3 now from a well known health food store chain, it says suitable for vegetarians

          March 20th, 2015 8:55 pm Reply
    • Bruce

      The most natural way to get your Vitamin D is to expose large portions of skin to sunlight. We evolved in sunlight at the equator getting sunlight 12 months of the year.

      May 7th, 2015 5:58 pm Reply
  • Yvette Gomes

    This is a very interesting article :) Just a quick query. I noticed you recommend cod liver oil during pregnancy, however vitamin A is contraindicated during pregnancy. Would you still say that it is safe?

    October 20th, 2014 2:20 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Vitamin A is critical during pregnancy … but natural vitamin A, not synthetic which can indeed cause problems.

      October 20th, 2014 10:02 am Reply
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  • Debbie

    My doctor checked my vit. D level and now has me take 2000mg in the summer and 4000mg in the winter.

    October 19th, 2014 1:08 pm Reply
    • Debbie

      I mean IU not mg.

      October 19th, 2014 1:13 pm Reply
    • Hilda

      If Taking a Vitamin D Supplement, Remember K2 and Magnesium Too

      If you opt for a supplement, be sure to take vitamin D3—not synthetic D2—and take vitamin K2 and magnesium in conjunction with it. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so taking some form of healthy fat with it will also help optimize absorption. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, and without sufficient amounts, calcium may build up in areas such as your arteries and soft tissues. This can cause calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries—a side effect previously thought to be caused by vitamin D toxicity. We now know that inappropriate calcification is actually due more to lack of K2 than simply too much vitamin D.

      November 17th, 2014 6:31 pm Reply
  • katharina a Klassen

    Hi I am taking a whole food multi-vitamin with 800 IU vitamin D per serving 3 times a day would that be enough?

    October 16th, 2014 12:36 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      The Vitamin D in that multi is synthetic. I would not recommend it!

      October 16th, 2014 4:27 pm Reply
  • Krysta

    Thanks for the heads up! I need to do more research, but I think vitamin D deficiency may be a cause of some muscle problems I have been having. I woke up in the night with a bad cramp in my calf two and a half months ago, and my leg muscles, mainly the calves and especially the one that had cramped, were extremely tight and in a state of spasm the entire day. I had never had a muscle cramp in my life before, and I had not done any unusual physical activity. I ended up going to the ER because of other symptoms I had and the fact that I hadn’t been able to get the muscles to relax in almost 24 hours. They ran blood tests and said they didn’t know any cause for the spasms, and sent me home. It took TWO WEEKS to regain full function in my muscles; I was not able to walk some of the time, and the rest of the time only barely.

    In the past two months, I have continued to struggle with on and off tightness, have had one more nighttime cramp, and many other evenings/nights where I felt like they could cramp anytime.

    About a week ago, in desperation I looked through my medicine cabinet and found an old calcium and vitamin D supplement I had bought before I knew what I do now about food and health. People kept telling me that low calcium can cause cramps, so I decided to try taking the supplement. I have had good days with my muscles since I started taking it, which I don’t think is a concidence. But now I think it’s more likely the vitamin D than the calcium that has made the difference. I ordered Blue Ice fermented cod liver oil / butter oil blend yesterday, so I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel on that. Though I couldn’t find a number for how much vitamin D it contains. Might not be enough.

    October 15th, 2014 3:54 pm Reply
    • Heather

      Low magnesium causes muscle cramps, not calcium. Google Dr Carolyn Dean Magnesium Miracle.
      My research also shows that we need to take mg with our D. Take 1 Tsp a day of the FCLO along with mg.

      October 15th, 2014 8:26 pm Reply
    • Michelle

      For sure magnesium deficiency is the problem with cramping muscles. We are VERY familiar with this issue in my house, we take it at 2x the reg single dose for immediate relief. But if one consumes (made properly) bone broth daily, there will probably not be any mag deficient problems. Taking CLO along with other nutrient dense foods always provides better health

      November 11th, 2014 9:21 am Reply
    • Hilda

      Magnesium is also important, both for the proper function of calcium, and for the activity of vitamin D as it converts vitamin D into its active form. Magnesium also activates enzyme activity that helps your body use the vitamin D. In fact, all enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium to work. As with vitamin D and K2, magnesium deficiency16 is also common, and if you’re lacking in magnesium and take supplemental calcium, you may exacerbate the situation.

      Vitamin A, zinc, and boron are other important cofactors that interact with vitamin D, and indeed, zinc deficiency has also been identified as a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease. When taking supplements, it can be easy to create lopsided ratios, so getting these nutrients from an organic whole food diet and sensible sun exposure is generally your best bet. Dietary sources of magnesium include sea vegetables, such as kelp, dulse, and nori. Vegetables can also be a good source. As for supplements, magnesium citrate and magnesium threonate are among the best

      November 17th, 2014 6:33 pm Reply
  • Sylvia

    I was tested and found out that cod liver oil doesn’t work as efficiently in my body as flax seed oil (they were talking mainly about omega-3’s). Would this mean that FCLO wouldn’t work for me where Vit D is concerned? If so, what other supplement would you suggest?

    October 15th, 2014 12:40 pm Reply
  • Wendy

    Good article. I feel depressed these days,and maybe I need to take some vitamin D.

    October 15th, 2014 9:58 am Reply
  • Cindy

    Correction to my earlier comment…my lowest vitamin D level was 10 not 4.

    October 15th, 2014 2:22 am Reply
  • Cindy

    This article should have mentioned that if anyone is getting the Vitamin D level checked, it’s important to also have the parathyroid hormone (not thyroid) level and calcium level checked as well. A few years ago I was feeling really tired and cold all the time…the doctor ran some tests and discovered that my parathyroid hormone was seriously high and D was seriously low (4!). The problem with only checking the D is that if it’s low, and PTH is high, but not diagnosed, and the Dr. prescribes high doses of D, it can cause a FATAL spike in the calcium level. I only knew that from reading up on the parathyroid on an endocrinology website.

    October 15th, 2014 2:03 am Reply
  • Amy

    Almost all of my hair fell out, following a severe illness and thought it was due to anesthesia from surgery and stress. Turns out, my Vitamin D level was extremely low. It is important for hair and nails.

    October 15th, 2014 1:27 am Reply
  • Kezia

    Dr John Cannell also DOES NOT recommend taking cod liver oil due to the high amounts of vitamin A in it – he believes this is dangerous. He recommends Vitamin D3 for adults 5000iu, 1000iu/per day per 25lbs of weight and 1000iu for infants. Seeing as you are quoting his information shouldn’t you also mention this fact?

    October 14th, 2014 9:08 pm Reply
    • Beth

      There is disagreement and confusion regarding optimal vitamin A amounts and toxicity from excess amounts of the different forms of it. An article on the Weston Price Foundation website states, “…concerns about vitamin A toxicity are exaggerated. While some forms of synthetic vitamin A found in supplements can be toxic at only moderately high doses, fat-soluble vitamin A naturally found in foods like cod liver oil, liver, and butterfat is safe at up to ten times the doses of water-soluble, solidified and emulsified vitamin A found in some supplements that produce toxicity. Additionally, the vitamin D found in cod liver oil and butterfat from pasture-raised animals protects against vitamin A toxicity, and allows one to consume a much higher amount of vitamin A before it becomes toxic. Liver from land mammals is high in vitamin A but low in vitamin D, and should therefore be consumed with other vitamin D-rich foods such as lard or bacon from pasture-raised pigs, egg yolks, and oily fish, or during months in which UV-B light is sufficient to provide one with adequate vitamin D.”

      Here are two helpful articles:

      October 15th, 2014 7:53 pm Reply
  • Jen

    I cannot take any sort of fish oil or cod liver oil anymore due to digestive problems…horrible belching and feel sick all day. I also burped up a can of sardines I tried the other day. Do you think the fish eggs would work for me? Can you recommend a source?

    October 14th, 2014 4:21 pm Reply
    • Paula

      A deficiency of hydrochloric acid is implicated with fishy burping.

      October 15th, 2014 2:59 pm Reply
    • Ashley

      You can find enzymes that are specifically for breaking down fats, and then you won’t have that problem.

      October 19th, 2014 5:30 pm Reply
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  • LondonLady

    Thank you for this timely article.
    I have two comments to make: one is that if you are very low in Vit D, FCLO might not be enough to raise your levels because of the vitamin A also in the cod liver oil. If you are just trying to maintain levels I think it is fine, but be aware that it might not work for everyone and could, in theory, exacerbate the deficiency -I believe this is what happened to my partner earlier on this year. There is some suggestions online that this may be likely, but WAPF have disagreed with this theory. I’m not sure either way, but it’s something for people to bear in mind.
    Secondly, if you are taking vitamin D3 supplements, you MUST also watch your magnesium levels to ensure that you are not in danger from vitamin D toxicity, and also to activate the vitamin D so that it does its job, there is much info on this online, but here is a succinct explanation:
    Hope this info helps someone!

    October 14th, 2014 1:26 pm Reply
  • Melissa

    That’s odd. I’m sure I’m deficient since I never go outside hardly, but I don’t have any of the symptoms listed here at all. ???

    October 14th, 2014 10:39 am Reply
  • BILL


    October 13th, 2014 1:26 am Reply
  • Lydia Moser via Facebook

    WHAT ELSE besides cod liver oil?? Can’t take it bc of a severe fish allergy.

    October 12th, 2014 8:19 pm Reply
  • Misty

    Thank you Sarah for the interesting and informative article. One question though, if you are low on vit d according to blood tests, does 2000 iu provide enough to help someone bring their levels up appropriately? I thought I read some where on Mercolas site that 2000 was not sufficient enough to dig you out of the hole so to speak.

    October 12th, 2014 6:42 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      If one is super low, I would recommend incorporating fish eggs into the diet … possibly the highest food in Vitamin D. One Tbl of fish roe has 17,000 IU of completely natural vitamin D!!!

      October 12th, 2014 9:32 pm Reply
      • megan

        PLEASE help, where did you learn that 1 T = 17,000 IU? Is it all roe or just certain fish like salmon?

        October 2nd, 2015 9:18 pm Reply
        • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          See the linked source from testing done by the Weston Price Foundation.

          October 2nd, 2015 10:02 pm Reply
  • Lisa Smith

    Is there a chart that says how much we should take daily. I want to take it and I also have a 10,9,5 and 2 year old. Thanks!

    October 12th, 2014 5:09 pm Reply
    • Christy

      Check out They have dosage recommendations, as well as comparisons to other agency recommendations. (At this moment, their site is being maintenanced.)

      October 14th, 2014 2:50 pm Reply
  • Betty Darlington via Facebook

    Upping the amount of vitamin D has relieved me of a lot of leg pain and foot pain. The Doctor has never suggested vitamin K. I would think that since having had strokes vitamin K would not be good for me because of the clotting factor. In my case the blood needs to stay thin.

    October 12th, 2014 4:15 pm Reply
  • Maryann

    I have been having alot of pain walking to the point I use a cain or walker.I am 49 years old. My vitamin D level is 13. I use to take vitamin D pills,but found out it was not good for me to take since I have a history of kidney stones.Will this flamented oil cause me kidney stones.

    October 12th, 2014 11:36 am Reply
    • Heathermac

      Hi, Vit d does such a good job of putting calcium into your bones that it is a preventer of kidney stones. The stones settle out of your blood stream if the calcium had NOT been stashed safely away in your bones. A day at the beach is about ten thousand to fifteen thousand units, and the daily dose is around 5,000 by pill form, for the basic level most people need. Plus remember to hydrate. The number in your blood is crazy low – go outside more often too!!

      October 14th, 2014 8:32 pm Reply
  • Kelly

    How much D is safe during pregnancy?

    October 12th, 2014 6:22 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      The Weston Price Foundation recommends 2 tsp of fermented cod liver oil per day during pregnancy which is about 2000 IU of vitamin D.

      October 12th, 2014 9:14 am Reply
  • Cristina Virginia via Facebook

    #6 really worries me ,my 1yo always has a sweaty head. should i have him checked out, or is there someting u recommened to give him. tia

    October 12th, 2014 12:02 am Reply
  • Jessica Smith Niziolek via Facebook

    Sarah, is there a particular brand of D and K2 that you recommend?

    October 11th, 2014 10:08 pm Reply
  • Melissa

    Are Vitamin D drops bad for you is that why you don’t suggest them? I give myself and my children the drops daily. The on,y thing in them us olive oil. It is all I can afford on our budget. The FCLO is just way too expensive for 5 of us to be taking. So it’s either the drops or tablets. Is there anything else you can recommend besides FCLO for vitamin D and a family on a tight budget? Or is there a specific way I should be taking the drops? Thank you!

    October 11th, 2014 8:02 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I never recommend taking a vitamin in isolation which is what occurs with vitamin D drops. This is a dangerous way to supplement. Fermented cod liver oil is much safer as there is vitamin A in there in the correct ratio as nature intended which synergistically prevents overdosing.

      October 12th, 2014 9:16 am Reply
      • Melissa

        Why is it so dangerous? Isn’t vitamin D from the sun in isolation also? I’ve noticed FCLO does not label the amounts of A and D anymore…how can you be sure you’re getting enough D from FCLO and that the Vit A is not too high; that the ratio is appropriate? Could you please clarify what is dangerous about the drops to help me assess this better for my family? If I know exactly how much I am giving us how would we overdose? Isn’t it rather difficult to overdose on Vit D? If I am taking 1000 iu and my children 400 daily, that seems like it could not possibly cause an overdose. Please know I am not trying to offend you by questioning you…the vagueness of “its dangerous” only scares me instead of helps me!

        October 12th, 2014 11:31 am Reply
        • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          The body has safety mechanisms for converting a certain amount of vitamin D from the sun and no more. Too much vitamin D causes dangerous calcification … including vascular calcification!!! Nothing to mess around with there. Stick to food and sun for your Vitamin D. If you need a ton of D to raise your levels quickly, use fish eggs (1 TBL has 17,000 IU of D).

          October 12th, 2014 9:35 pm Reply
  • Pingback: Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency Most People Miss | The Healthy Home Economist | sondasmcschatter

  • jamie

    Is it fine for children to take a whole foods multivitamin and the cod liver oil on the same day? Would this be too much vitamin A?

    October 11th, 2014 1:27 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      The problem with multivitamins is they either have synthetic vitamin A in them or beta carotene which isn’t true vitamin A anyway. I personally skip multivitamins as I don’t see the value.

      October 11th, 2014 2:25 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    I have nearly ALL the above symptoms, but have HAD my vit D tested & it’s fine. Now what?

    October 11th, 2014 12:27 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      What were your levels? Some doctors are using outdated information when assessing optimal vitamin D levels.

      October 11th, 2014 12:40 pm Reply
  • Mia Spangler Bendele via Facebook

    Vit D has made a huge difference for me. Even before I got pregnant I was so drained all the time. I wanted a vbac and my doctor warned me that low vit d could damage accomplishing that. Sure enough, my body was extremely low. I started taking good quality supplements and saw an immediate difference in my energy and focus

    October 11th, 2014 11:20 am Reply
  • Elizabeth Bookout Simmons via Facebook

    Sherina Soord, you don’t need to be worried about how much sun the kids would be getting to determine your dose. It would take quite a bit of bit d to overdose. The only reason you would need to be worried about Vit k is if you actually have a clotting issue. It does not cause clotting issues in healthy people. Your d3 is not use less without the Vit K, its just better for your system, you get more use out of the vit d if taken with K because they work synergistic with eat other, boosting and making eat other work better. What are the ages of your kids, I can let you know the doses. An adult is easy 5000 iu daily, pregnancy is 6000iu. It your levels are low to begin with a Dr will tell you a different amount to get them up, but those numbers I gave are general daily dose. This article might help understand. The dosing I gave above is for D3 alone. This will take about cod liver oil and Vit K.

    October 11th, 2014 10:27 am Reply
  • Joanne Yee

    My daughter is nursing her 1 month old baby girl at this time… My daughter takes 25,000 units of D3 each week. Do we need to be concerned about the baby’s vitamin D level? If so, how do you give a one month old D3? Thanks!

    October 11th, 2014 10:18 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I personally would never give a child or baby vitamin D3 drops. Vitamin D really should ideally be taken with vitamin A in a whole food source as they synergistically prevent overdosing. The Weston Price Foundation recommends a quarter tsp of plain, fermented cod liver oil for babies started at 3 months old (and the mother should be taking 2 tsp per day).

      October 11th, 2014 12:42 pm Reply
      • Zenmont

        Sarah, I believe you misunderstood Joanne’s question. She mentioned how much Vit. D her DAUGHTER is taking and wondered if the baby would be getting too much through her daughter’s breastmilk. She is not directly giving the baby any supplements.

        October 12th, 2014 9:46 am Reply
        • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          Oh thanks … reading to quickly then. Sorry! I still don’t like vitamin D drops even for a breastfeeding mother. 2 tsp of fermented cod liver oil is a much better and safer choice in my opinion.

          October 12th, 2014 9:35 pm Reply
  • Sean

    I’m a nurse in northern California. The hospitals usually fill up this time of year, I always attributed this to the weather change. This year I didn’t think it would happen yet, as we’re in a drought and its sunny and warm. Yet we filled up just like every year. I was wondering what it was about this time of year, then it hit me when I left work and it was dark already. The days are shorter.

    October 11th, 2014 10:14 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Good observations! The vitamin D available from the sun is waning even if it is sunny outside during Fall/Winter. Even where I live in Central FL, this time of year you can only get D from the sun a few short hours during the midday.

      October 11th, 2014 12:44 pm Reply
  • Sherina Soord via Facebook

    I am BEYOND confused and annoyed with this whole D3 and K thing. Whenever I finally feel like I’m doing it right with my kids, someone tells me it’s wrong.

    So for a year I’ve been giving my kids D3 and now all of the sudden apparently bc my D3 doesn’t have Vit K in it, it’s useless! So I go to the store to get a D3 with Vit K and the lady said no it’s not true and some people need to be careful taking K bc it can clot your arteries….. I don’t know who to believe!!!

    And I find that D is tricky bc I never know how much to give to my kids bc I never know how much sun they will get that day

    October 11th, 2014 10:07 am Reply
  • Susan

    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for sharing all your research! I had been taking Blue Ice Royal Butter oil/FCLO Blend and bought an entire case. Since then, I have eliminated dairy from my diet to see if that would be of help to my autoimmune issue. Do you happen to know if butter oil would be problematic if someone is sensitive to dairy? I’m not yet sure if I am sensitive to it.

    October 11th, 2014 9:53 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Susan, most folks are fine with butter oil as it has had all the typically allergenic proteins removed and is just pure oil like ghee.

      October 11th, 2014 12:45 pm Reply
  • Grace Caballero Hood via Facebook

    Excellent Information

    October 11th, 2014 9:47 am Reply
  • vivian

    I am 61 and just recently started getting vit d shots.

    I am a classic example of low vit d. This year my body just kind of quit to let me know. I was sick the whole year. My doc suggested low vit d . I protested as I live in phoenix and practically live outside, don’t use sunscreen etc.

    He was bang on. I also have lead poisoning which is apparently another very common problem and he says that’s why I have a problem with getting vit d from the sun.
    I had ZERO energy, terrible rashes,
    and as I said, constantly sick with flu.
    Many tests later revealed kidney problems too. Stage 2 failure.

    Like Sarah says , low vit d is very common. Don’t let this get away on you. I would have ignored this article
    because of my exposure to the sun.
    However getting to the root of the problem is just as important as treating the symptoms.

    October 11th, 2014 9:44 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Wise words Vivian. Almost everyone is Vitamin D deficient anymore … primarily due to misguided sun phobia and animal fat phobia. That said, as we get older, it is harder to get adequate D and drastic measures might be required as determined by a physician.

      October 11th, 2014 12:45 pm Reply
  • Rochel

    I’ve been taking FCLO daily for several years. I also try to eat a WAP diet-I’m not perfect, but I feel like I eat pretty well. I just recently got my blood checked and my vit D was low…so what do I do if I’m already taking FCLO and my levels are still low?

    October 11th, 2014 9:18 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Low sulphur levels can contribute as described by Dr. Seneff at a Wise Traditions Conference a couple years ago. I would highly recommend reading her research on sulphur and how this can impact the ability to raise vitamin D levels. Here’s an article I wrote on it awhile back.

      October 11th, 2014 12:48 pm Reply
  • Charis Kehler via Facebook

    Check out for good, unbiased vitamin d info. They are a repository of scientific info and are running a multi year study of vitamin d levels in people across North America. Join up and get your levels tested :)

    October 11th, 2014 8:42 am Reply
  • Sara Rothstein via Facebook

    What about D for children?

    October 11th, 2014 8:12 am Reply
  • Sara Frogner via Facebook

    Is it D3 or another D?

    October 11th, 2014 7:09 am Reply
    • Chris Valigore

      D3 That is the only one you should be taking

      October 11th, 2014 8:01 am Reply
      • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Actually, there is D2 in fermented cod liver oil as well but it is natural and totally fine. It is the synthetic D2 added to fortify foods and acquired by irradiation (of mushrooms for example) that is to be avoided.

        October 11th, 2014 12:49 pm Reply
  • Robin Kelman via Facebook

    I suffered from terrible pain in my upper legs that hurt worse when I sat or laid down for over a year. finally convinced by Dr. to test my Vit D level, it was 9. I live in FL, outside enough that should have covered, eat good. Still struggle to keep my level up. After my level hit 23 my pain left. I also had depression, dry itchy skin, lack energy. Basically I suffered needlessly and the fix was cheap and no side effects. Dr. need to take pain seriously and look into not just try and throw pain meds at.

    October 11th, 2014 6:15 am Reply
  • Melanyann Garvin

    Hi Sarah. I give my kids (1 & 2yrs old) a daily dose of the green pastures FCLO-infused coconut oil. But I’m pretty sure they’re not getting a large enough concentration of FCLO and BO this way. I’d like to transition to the FCLO/BO blend but when I tried in the past they flat-out refused it. Do you have suggestions for how to get them to take it (especially such little ones like mine)? I currently offer a homemade elderberry syrup chaser which helps, but hasn’t been enough motivation. And admittedly, that stuff is pretty hard to swallow. I myself couldn’t stomach it and switched to the pills. Thank you so much for any tips or advice.

    October 11th, 2014 2:23 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      The texture of the FLCO/BO blends is the problem I think. My kids much prefer the FCLO liquid and take it right off the spoon. I think the liquid is easier to swallow … the blend is thicker and you can’t just gulp it down without tasting it like you can with the liquid.

      October 11th, 2014 7:52 am Reply
      • mrs. nelson

        my kids (6,4 and 2) love the cinnamon flavor. They beg for it every morning. We also wash it down with raw milk.

        October 11th, 2014 9:10 am Reply
        • Alan Santana

          I use the cinnamon flavor as well and it is really tasty. It doesn’t bother me and my brothers kid eat it without problem.

          October 11th, 2014 10:48 pm Reply
  • Brandee

    I have both fermented cod liver and fermented skate oil, I’m wondering if I should take both together? Please feel free to email me if that’s easier, I’d love some help!

    October 11th, 2014 1:28 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      It’s really up to you … they are both fantastic choices :)

      October 11th, 2014 7:53 am Reply
  • Cindy Dickson via Facebook

    I just found out last month that my vitamin D level was very low. I have a “rash”around my middle. I wonder if it will get better now that I am taking Vitamin D? Anyone else have a rash with it?

    October 11th, 2014 1:13 am Reply
  • Danae Marie Carroll via Facebook

    Yes. I have psoriasis and I have begun taking FCLO daily, it is slowly helping.

    October 11th, 2014 12:37 am Reply
  • April

    How do you get vitamin D into young children? My kids play outside as much as they can, but in the winter in the Rockies there just aren’t enough hours of daylight and they are all bundled up. I just don’t see them swallowing cod liver oil off a spoon every day if it tastes anything like I imagine it does.

    October 10th, 2014 11:23 pm Reply
    • Alan Santana

      Try the cinnamon flavor. They have other flavor as well but so far that’s the best for kids in my opinion. I’ve tried them all over the years and this one is definitely good tasting rather than just “not bad”.

      October 11th, 2014 10:51 pm Reply
  • Kathy

    Great post! I’m going to Amazon to order some fermented cod liver oil right now.

    My sister died of breast cancer and one of the many, many doctors she saw said that “this could be prevented with Vitamin D. Such a simple answer.”

    In “Fight Breast Cancer Now” by Dr. Aaron Tabor, he stresses the importance of vitamin D in preventing breast cancer.

    October 10th, 2014 6:54 pm Reply
  • tz

    This is the first really bad error I’ve seen on this site.

    The Flu (influenza) is caused by a VIRUS, not a BACTERIA. It is why antibiotics don’t work against the flu.

    “Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council and one of the most preeminent Vitamin D researchers in the world today, has identified that vitamin D helps produce the antibacterial peptides that protect against the flu”.

    How do anti-BACTERIAL peptides protect against the flu?

    October 10th, 2014 5:11 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      This is because these peptides are also anti-viral .. actually broad spectrum anti-microbial. A better description would be anti-microbial and certainly less confusing.

      October 10th, 2014 10:42 pm Reply

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