Vitamin D is an important nutrient when it comes to your health. It is linked to overall wellbeing, strong bones and growth, which means that being deficient in it, can cause a number of problems.

It is often called the sunshine vitamin, as it is produced in the skin when you are exposed to sunlight. As very few foods, apart from fortified options, contain vitamin D, if you are not being exposed to as much sunlight as usual, you can become deficient in it.

You should make sure that you maintain good levels of vitamin D by ensuring that you are exposed to sunlight everyday, if this is difficult to do it can be worthwhile to take supplements. But how do you know if you are deficient in vitamin D?

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can vary. Even if you have very few or subtle symptoms, you could have dangerously low levels of the sunshine vitamin.

One common symptom, especially during the darker months when there are fewer sunshine hours in each day, is tiredness and depression. You might find that you have less energy than usual, suffer from a few aches and pains and generally feel a bit unwell.

Vitamin D deficiency can, in severe cases, cause osteomalacia, which presents itself as weakness and more pronounced pain in muscles and joints. You might find that you feel too weak to get up from a sitting position or to walk up the stairs.

If you are starting to feel down and achey, it might be worth taking a daily vitamin D supplement to see if this can help get rid of any pain and pick your mood and energy levels up a bit. It might also be a good idea to talk to your doctor to ensure that your symptoms aren't related to anything else. 

When it comes to children, vitamin D deficiency can hamper growth, cause tooth decay, affect mood, result in rickets and lead to respiratory illnesses. You can diagnose vitamin D deficiency in children much the same as within adults, although younger children and babies may also suffer from muscle cramps, breathing problems and seizures.

If you suspect that your child may have a vitamin D deficiency, it is important that you get them checked by your doctor to confirm it. This can also be treated with supplements, although they will have to be suitable for children.