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Vitamin D Hits the Headlines

26th July 2016

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Vitamin D hit the headlines this week as an increased incidence of deficiency in the UK has lead to Public Health England recommending that everyone takes a daily Vitamin D Supplement. Here is all you need to know about Vitamin D and how you can ensure you don’t become deficient…

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.

People most at rick of deficiency are those that:

- Spend most of their time indoors

- Are in an institution such as a care home
- Wear clothes which cover the majority of their skin
- Have Dark skin



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