Vitamin D and the importance
Some people in the UK will not see daylight at all...
Now the nights are drawing in, some people in the UK will not see daylight at all which is making the majority of the population deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D is synthesised through sunlight on the skin and a healthy balanced diet. Unfortunately because we are in the northern hemisphere, we struggle to reach our vitamin D levels during the winter months. Even during the summer months in the UK, we are not getting enough vitamin D due to the fact that we cover up with a high factor suncream and wear clothing to protect the skin, therefore the UVB rays do not reach or penetrate the skin. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, as it helps the body use calcium from the diet, however recent studies have shown that a deficiency in Vitamin D could be responsible for a lot of chronic diseases, cognitive decline, autoimmune diseases and depression.
The people who are at more risk are:
- People with dark skin as they need more exposure than paler skin types.
- If you are age 50 or more the skin doesn’t make as much Vitamin D due to the kidneys being less effective to convert vitamin D.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Are a baby, growing child or teenager.
- Spend most of your time indoors (e.g. in hospital, housebound, care home).
- Cover up a lot of your body when outside (e.g. wear the niqab or Burqa).
- Overweight or have a higher muscle mass. Vitamin D is a fat soluble, hormone-like vitamin, which means body fat acts as a sink by collecting it. If you are obese, or are a body builder, you are therefore likely to need more vitamin D than a slimmer person.
The signs to watch out for are a low mood, especially in the winter months. The condition SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a common condition in the U.K. that affects one in 15 people, according to the NHS. Craving extra carbohydrates, fatigue and anti-social behaviour with disturbed sleep are signals of SAD. Other signs are head sweating and this can be seen in new born babies if the baby is deficient in Vitamin D. Also because Vitamin D is a fat soluble Vitamin, if you have a gastrointestinal condition such as Chrone’s, Coeliac or other inflammatory bowel disease, that affects your ability to absorb fat. You may have a lower absorption of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin D as well, causing gut trouble. Another major sign of Vitamin D deficiency in adults and children is aching bones. This is caused by a the collagen matrix being unable to absorb the calcium in the skeleton resulting in throbbing, aching bone pain. Your GP can do this simple test, however due to NHS cuts, they may not be inclined to. This NHS test is simple and not costly at £28 http://www.vitamindtest.org.uk/index.html. Aim to do it twice every year, once at the beginning of winter (most important) and once at the beginning of summer. The optimum results should be 70 moml’s or more. You can overdose on supplemented vitamin D so ensure you seek advise on how much to take from a nutritionist or GP. The daily recommended dose is 400iu but if you are under the 70 moml, you will want to take more and this is why guidance is strongly recommended. I propose taking a spray or liquid that is administered sublingually (under the tongue), as it bypasses the liver and absorbs much quicker. Some of the tablets have a tendency to give you constipation. Another solution is to buy a light box and have 20 minutes a day or have a winter holiday in the sun.