Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit and Physician Lim Sock Ling on April 18, 2022
Vitamin D Deficiency: Here’s How TCM Can Help Manage Symptoms
Published | 5 min read
A vitamin D deficiency could make it harder for you to get over the common cold. It may also cause fatigue, depression, and joint pain. Here's how to correct those symptoms.
However, if you’re having unexplained symptoms, such as muscle weakness, pain, fatigue, or depression, then it might be due to low levels of vitamin D.
In this article, we’ll describe some common vitamin D deficiency symptoms and how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help manage them.
What Is Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is required for numerous processes in the body. It assists with calcium absorption, immune functioning, and skeletal health.
Vitamin D deficiency occurs when you do not have enough vitamin D in the body. The amount that you need daily varies by sex and age.
Most adults need around
What causes it?
Low levels of vitamin D may be caused by certain health conditions, such as obesity, kidney and liver diseases, or gastrointestinal problems.
Certain medications may also impair your ability to absorb vitamin D. This includes steroids (Prednisone), laxatives, and drugs that treat cholesterol, tuberculosis, or epilepsy.
Skin color, mobility, and age may also affect vitamin D levels. People who are home-bound, dark-skinned, or elderly may have low levels.
The pathology of a vitamin D deficiency is a bit different from a TCM perspective. According to TCM Physician Lim Sock Ling, “From a TCM point of view, sun represents yang and qi. Being in an environment away from the sun or lacking ventilation would cause the buildup of moisture. This translates to a body constitution comprising Y
“The Liver and Kidneys play a key role in synthesizing vitamin D. Consequently, somebody with poor Kidney or Liver function may very well have suboptimal levels of vitamin D,” Physician Lim continued.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency isn’t always detectable. In fact, one study stated that most people who are deficient do not have symptoms.
However, it’s important to have your levels checked as vitamin D deficiency may lead to osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
- Muscle weakness or weakness in general
- Bone pain
- Muscle twitching
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
Manifestations of Vitamin D Deficiency
In addition to providing bone and structural support, vitamin D is required for proper immune health.
One study found that low levels of vitamin D are linked to increased risks of autoimmunity and infections.
Therefore, if you are having trouble managing your autoimmune symptoms or recovering from the common cold, have your levels checked.
How To Use TCM To Manage Symptoms
If your doctor confirms that your vitamin D levels are low, he or she will work with you to get them back up.
You may be asked to eat more foods high in vitamin D (such as salmon and eggs) or take a supplement.
Meanwhile, there are several things you can do to help manage your symptoms at home using TCM.
According to TCM theory, the pathogenesis of many viral infections is closely related to Cold-Dampness.
Cold-Dampness may be attenuated by sun exposure and Wen Yang herbs, both of which can restore vitamin D serum levels.
Therefore, it is recommended to consume warm foods such as ginger,
Jujube soup can warm the blood and stomach. People with weak yang qi can consume a Dang-Gui ginger mutton soup.
Physician Lim also shares that Yu Ping Feng powder is often used to improve immunity. It’s beneficial for people with recurrent flu and can also be used in children.
Research shows that fatigue is common in people with low levels of vitamin D. This may be due in part to problems sleeping and a weakened immune system.
Taking a supplement that contains Lingzhi mushrooms may help alleviate fatigue, boost immune function, and improve sleep to boost low energy levels.
“Depending on the syndrome, if the issue arises from an accumulation of Phlegm and Dampness, you may consume Si Shen soup to remove Dampness and strengthen the Spleen. You may also consider the Si Shen brown rice,” stated Physician Lim.
Other TCM herbs that may help with fatigue include Bu Zhong Yi Qi soup,
In TCM, depression is thought to stem from
Strengthening qi is important. However, correcting imbalances in other physiological systems by stimulating blood circulation, reducing inflammation, or removing Phlegm and Dampness is also needed.
Research shows that Kai Xin San (KXS) is a popular TCM herbal formula used for depression treatment. It helps strengthen vital energy, improve blood flow, alleviate inflammation and reduce Phlegm and Dampness.
Bone and joint pain
Because vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption, it plays a large role in bone and joint health.
According to one study, vitamin D deficiency is linked to skeletal and muscular hypersensitivity and pain.
If you are experiencing bone pain due to low levels, then you may benefit from taking a bone and joint supplement or an herbal remedy for joint pain.
Always remember to see your doctor or a registered TCM practitioner if symptoms worsen as this may indicate an underlying health condition.
- NIH. 2021. Vitamin D Fact Sheet For Health Professionals.
- PubMed. 2012. Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics. Vitamin D: The “Sunshine” Vitamin.
- PubMed. StatPearls. 2021. Vitamin D Deficiency.
- Journal of Investigative Medicine. 2012. Vitamin D and the immune system.
- Journal of Aging and Disease. 2021. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine Share Similar Philosophical Approaches to Fight COVID-19.
- SpringerPlus. 2015. Vitamin D deficiency and fatigue: an unusual presentation.
- Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. 2020. Vitamin D and Depression: A Critical Appraisal of the Evidence and Future Directions.
- Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2020. Traditional Chinese Medicine in Depression Treatment: From Molecules to Systems.
- Journal of Neuroscience. 2022. Vitamin D Deficiency Promotes Skeletal Muscle Hypersensitivity and Sensory Hyperinnervation.
- Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine. 2015. Studies on the Antifatigue Activities of Cordyceps militaris Fruit Body Extract in Mouse Model.
BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. 2017. Acupuncture and moxibustion for chronic fatigue syndrome in traditional Chinese medicine: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
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