ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH VITAMIN D by Dr Johanna Ward
A Government commissioned report by Public Health England has advised that all Britons take a minimum of 10 micrograms (400IU) Vitamin D supplements daily to prevent deficiency and to protect bone and muscle health. We need Vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet, which helps keep bones, teeth and muscles strong.
Vitamin D is known as the Sunshine Vitamin. We need to make vitamin D everyday and we do this with the help of sunshine. But in the UK we don’t get enough sunshine in the Autumn and Winter months due to our Northerly Latitude leaving 20% of people deficient. Lack of vitamin D can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, as well as bone pains, muscle aches, general tenderness, malaise and immune deficiency.
How can you get Vitamin D?
Most people get about 90% of their Vitamin D from sunshine and 10% from their diet. We can make Vitamin D through regular sun exposure for 10-15 minutes a few times a week in the summer months in the UK. In the winter months we generally cannot make enough Vitamin D through sun exposure as the UV Index isn't high enough.
Your body cant make Vitamin D when you are sittings indoors in the sun because UVB doesn’t pass through glass and its UVB that helps our bodies make Vitamin D. If you cannot make enough Vitamin D from sunshine then some foods are a good source of vitamin D. These include oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herrings and sardines and some red meats and eggs. The problem is many of us don’t eat salmon and eggs everyday.
Another problem is that Vitamin D is only stored in the body for 1-2 months so by mid-winter most people are deficient as stores have been depleted.
Experts agree that if you cant get enough Vitamin D through sun exposure or your diet then supplements are a good idea. Taking 10micrograms (400IU) of Vitamin D (adult dose) per day is advised for anyone concerned they are not getting enough from the sun and dietary sources. Take Vitamin D in its D3 form in your supplements as its more effective than the D2 form and is more constant in the bloodstream.
Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin that we all need
At Risk Groups:
– Anyone over 55 (less efficient at making it)
Anyone with darker skin eg. Asian, Mediterranean, Afro-Caribbean
Anyone who covers up in the sun or who wears sunscreen
Teenagers who don’t get out much
Those on restricted diets
Post weight loss surgery, gastric bands
House bound people
Infants and children
– Allow sunshine onto your lower arms or legs (without sunscreen) from late March to late September 11-3pm. After 15 minutes apply sunscreen to protect the skin.
If you have darker skin you will need to spend longer in the sun unprotected to make the same amount of Vitamin D as someone with lighter skin.
In the UK the winter sun doesn't generally contain enough UVB for us to make vitamin D so you need to take it in your diet or as a supplement.
Children under 5 should supplement their Vitamin D – See Your Gp
Anyone with dark skin (Mediterranean, Asian, Afro-Caribbean) who doesn't get much sun exposure should consider taking Vitamin D supplements all year around.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency:
– Bone pain
– Muscle aches
How to get tested?
A quick and simple blood test (for 25-hydroxy vitamin D) by your Gp can diagnose Vitamin D deficiency. They can also give you advice on dosing but a good place to start for adults is 10mcg per day. That way you know you are getting enough.
Dr Johanna Ward is a Gp, presenter and co-founder of soon to be launched ZENii, a skincare, supplements and wellness company that seeks to provide intelligent anti-ageing and health care advice. ZENii is founded on the principles of protect, nourish, fortify and repair and seeks to educate the smart consumer to make better choices to become healthy and happy.
The team at Totally Aesthetic are trying out Vitabiotics Vitamin D supplements to keep our levels topped up! Visit the Vitabiotics Website