Vitamin D: 8 ng/mL

What does a vitamin D level of 8 mean? Are there any symptoms associated with thisvitamin D level?

A vitamin D level of 8 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. Over time, vitamin D deficiency in adults can lead to osteomalacia which weakens bones over time. Osteomalacia symptoms include bone deformities and pain, certain types of seizures and spasms, and dental abnormalities. 

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 8

  • 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 are unable to 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

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

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

  • Gastric bypass surgery

What to do if your vitamin D level is 8?

To improve vitamin D levels:

  • Increase consumption 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 of the week

  • Take a vitamin D supplement. How much you should take depends on your level of deficiency. For a level of 8, 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 8 ng/mL, talk to your healthcare provider. Daily supplementation of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) should be considered to achieve adequate body stores of vitamin D.