Research has shown that many of us are deficient in the correct levels of Vitamin D. It has also been proved that low levels of Vitamin D can cause many minor ailments including colds and influenza as well as many more serious diseases such as peripheral artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer and kidney disease.
It has long been thought that Winter time is the cause of colds and flu due to people grouping together and spreading the cold and flu germs. This is partly true, but a major factor is definitely a lack of Vitamin D which helps to activate and boost the immune system and fight any unwanted viruses.
It’s normal for us to get far greater exposure to sunlight during the Summer months and as sunlight and UVB rays help to produce Vitamin D through our skin, it’s logical that during the Winter, our Vitamin D stores are depleted and this can result in an increase in Influenza and the common cold.
Then, of course, there is the current Coronavirus lockdown which has seen the majority of us confined to our homes for long periods of time. With the lockdown set to be extended into May, it is essential that you are getting enough sources of vitamin D so that your body remains in tip-top condition.
What are the Health Benefits of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D activates our immune systems and is responsible for the absorption of Calcium within our body, which means that having the correct levels of Vitamin D, helps to maintain strong healthy teeth and bones.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere you are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D due to lower sunlight exposure, whereas those living below the equator generally have the ideal Vitamin D levels.
Having the correct levels of Vitamin D has also been shown to improve sleep and suppress hunger which may also help with weight loss.
What is the Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin D?
The UK NHS suggests that our daily allowance should be 10 micrograms a day for children over one and for adults, this includes pregnant and breastfeeding women and people at risk of Vitamin D deficiency. Babies up to the age of one need between 8.5 -10 micrograms a day.
What is Vitamin D Deficiency?
The 25-hydroxy Vitamin D blood test is the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body.
A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is considered adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.
Some people won't get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have either very little or no sunshine exposure at all.
If you aren’t outside often, are in an institution like a care home or usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors, The Department of Health recommends that you take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year.
If you have dark skin, for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background, you may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight. You should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year.
Others at risk of Vitamin D deficiency are those who don’t eat much fish or dairy, are overweight or obese, live far from the equator where there is little sun year-round or always use sunscreen when going out.
The fact of the matter is that around 60% of people are deficient in Vitamin D and this is why it is so important to make sure your body constantly has enough to function correctly.
What are the Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency?
Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle. Even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks for example:-
What is Vitamin D Toxicity?
Vitamin D toxicity is basically when you take in too much Vitamin D. It is recommended that you don't take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful. This applies to all adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and also children aged 11 to 17 years. You cannot however overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.
What are the Best Sources of Natural Vitamin D?
Our best source of Vitamin D is from sunlight and UVB rays, but for many of us above the equator, the sunshine eludes us which means in many cases we do not get sufficient levels.
There are a number of foods which are high in Vitamin D including fresh oily fish such as Salmon, Tuna, sardines, oysters and Mackerel. Other sources include mushrooms, soy milk, orange juice, fortified cereal and oatmeal and also dairy products including milk, cheese, yoghurt and egg yolks. Even though you may include some or all of the above in your daily diet, you may still be deficient in Vitamin D.
Should I Use Vitamin D Supplementation?
Vitamin D supplementation is an excellent way of topping up your Vitamin D levels, which will help your body to function correctly and help ward off many serious illnesses as mentioned above.
You can easily obtain Vitamin D tablets at your local pharmacy, which if used daily along with your natural food sources, should provide you with adequate levels.
Many children do not like to take tablets, so if this is the case, you can also purchase Vitamin D in liquid form which makes it a lot easier for the little ones to take.
How Can I Find Out What My Vitamin D Levels Are?
The only way to really know whether your Vitamin D levels are where they should be is to take a trip to your doctor and have a blood test.
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The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalised guidance regarding your specific health situation. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read in this article. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Reliance on the information in this article is solely at your own risk.
Updated: January 22, 2024 CET
Updated: April 24, 2018 CET
Updated: April 24, 2018 CET