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Could you be Vitamin D deficient?

7th October 2016

Vitamin D hit the headlines once again this week. Having previously been in the news earlier this year when Public Health England recommended that everyone should take a daily Vitamin D Supplement and then in early September when  it was reported that vitamin D may hep prevent severe asthma attacks. Reports are now suggesting that many people are unaware that they have a vitamin D deficient because they don’t recognise the symptoms such as tiredness and lethargy. This is a problem as long term Vitamin D deficiency can lead to more serious issues such as weak bones. 

As we move into the Autumn and Winter vitamin D levels are going to become even lower due to a lack of sunlight. It is therefore very important that an effort is made to ensure that sufficient vitamin D is obtained. This article will provide you with all you need to know about vitamin D and how to ensure you are getting enough…

 

Why is Vitamin D important?

Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating both calcium and phosphate levels in the body. These nutrients are required for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

A vitamin D deficiency can lead to weak/tender bones which are prone to deformity and fractures. This condition is known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.


Sources:

Vitamin D is produced in the skin when exposed to the ultra violet rays in sunlight and it can also be obtained through the diet.

Sunlight – 

Between late March/early April and September, sunlight tends to be the main source of Vitamin D. However, there is no general guideline for how much sunlight we need in order to produce enough Vitamin D, due to there being too many factors which can affect this process. In addition, we must be careful not to expose our skin to too much sun as this can lead to skin damage and potentially skin cancer.

Diet –

From October to March the amount of vitamin D attained from sunlight is minimal, therefore the diet becomes the main source. However, Vitamin D is only found in a small number of foods and in small doses. Dietary sources of Vitamin D include; oily fish (salmon, mackerel), liver, egg yolks and red meat. It is also found in fortified foods including breakfast cereals.


Recommended Daily Intake & Supplementation

It is recommended that people consume around 10micrograms/day of Vitamin D. There are however a number of factors which prevent people meeting this intake level, including:

  • - Vitamin D is only present in food in small doses.
  • - Due to the UK climate we don’t get a lot of sunlight.
  • - A lot of people tend to spend the majority of the day indoors.
  • - When exposed to sun often people use sun cream to protect their skin witch prevents Vitamin D production.


Supplementation is therefore a good way of ensuring you meet your daily requirement and don’t become deficient. This can be done year round but most importantly during the winter months.


Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiencies are difficult to identify as the symptoms may not present themselves straightaway. It is important that a deficiency is detected as soon as possible as this will reduce the chances of more serious problems occurring. Here are a few potential symptoms to look out for:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Bone Pain
  • Bone Deformities & Fractures


Those most at Risk of deficiency are those that:

  • Have Dark skin
  • Spend most of their time indoors
  • Are in an institutional such as a care home
  • Wear clothes which cover the majority of their skin



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