Vitamin D: 11 ng/mL

What does a vitamin D level of 11 mean? Are there any symptoms associated with this vitamin D level?

A vitamin D level of 11 ng/mL is considered severely deficient. Severe deficiency can occur from prolonged, inadequate intake of vitamin D, limited exposure to sunlight, poor kidney function, or inadequate vitamin D absorption. Prolonged vitamin D deficiency in adults can lead to osteomalacia which weakens bones over time. Symptoms of osteomalacia include bone deformities and pain, certain types of seizures and spasms, and dental abnormalities. 

Research shows low vitamin D may also put you at increased risk for, and severity of COVID-19, diabetes, and cancer. Vitamin D deficiency may also increase your risk for certain autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.  

Factors that could contribute to a vitamin D level of 11

  • Diet low in vitamin D

  • Older age (partly due to a decline in the skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D with age)

  • Dark complexion

  • Living in cold or northern climates (people who live above 37°N latitude cannot synthesize vitamin D year-round)

  • Limited sun exposure (such as those who spend the majority of their time indoors or are covered when outside)

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Health conditions like Cystic fibrosis, Crohn's, celiac, and kidney or liver disease that interfere with vitamin D absorption or synthesis 

  • Obesity (greater amounts of subcutaneous fat sequester more of the vitamin)

  • Gastric bypass surgery

What to do if your vitamin D level is 11?

To improve vitamin D levels:

  • Increase your intake of vitamin D-rich foods like salmon, herring, canned tuna, eggs (with the yolk), and fortified foods like milk, yogurt, and breakfast cereals

  • Get 10–30 minutes of unprotected midday sunlight most days

  • Take a vitamin D supplement. How much you should take depends on your level of deficiency. For a level of 11, you will likely need to take 5,000 IU daily for several months to significantly improve your vitamin D status. 

  • If levels do not improve after 3 months, review your supplements with an expert or talk to your doctor. 

Supplements used to improve vitamin D test results

If you are vitamin D deficient, a daily supplement is typically needed to get levels into the optimal range (40-80 ng/mL) over time. 

For levels of 11 ng/mL, talk to your healthcare provider. Daily supplementation of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) should be considered to achieve adequate body stores of vitamin D.


  1. National Institutes of Health. (2021, March 26). Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin D. National Institutes of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements.

  2. Alshahrani, F., & Aljohani, N. (2013). Vitamin D: deficiency, sufficiency, and toxicity. Nutrients, 5(9), 3605–3616.

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  4. Demir, M., Demir, F., & Aygun, H. (2021). Vitamin D deficiency is associated with COVID-19 positivity and severity of the disease. Journal of medical virology, 93(5), 2992–2999.

  5. Kayaniyil, S., Vieth, R., Retnakaran, R., Knight, J. A., Qi, Y., Gerstein, H. C., Perkins, B. A., Harris, S. B., Zinman, B., & Hanley, A. J. (2010). Association of vitamin D with insulin resistance and beta-cell dysfunction in subjects at risk for type 2 diabetes. Diabetes care, 33(6), 1379–1381.

  6. (2019, April). A D-fence against cancer?

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