What does vitamin D do?
Research shows ever increasing roles for vitamin D in the body. Bone Health, immune function, prevention of autoimmune conditions (Lupus, MS, and Rheumatoid Arthritis in particular), blood pressure regulation and cancer protection are amongst the most well researched areas.
Newer research is also emerging of its role in brain health, Alzheimers disease and blood sugar control.
Factors that contribute to vitamin D deficiency include old age, pregnancy, breastfeeding, dark skin, over use of sunscreen, obesity and use of drugs such as metformin.
It is estimated that over 10 million people in the UK are deficient in vitamin D; children, adults and elderly.
What can be done to increase vitamin D levels?
It’s around September time that we lose the suns ability to deliver essential UVB rays (the rays we need to stimulate vitamin D production). Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin from UVB sun rays and just 10-15 minutes exposure in the midday sun is usually enough to give us what we need.
However, over use of sun screen blocks absorption, so the chances are we have inadequate levels even in the summer months, this especially applies to children.
Roughly 10% of vitamin D comes from food. There is little or no vitamin D in milk and dairy products by the way… only infant formula milk and margarine have statutory vitamin D supplementation added in the UK.
Oily fish, egg yolk, liver and wild mushrooms contain a small quantity of vitamin D – but it’s still not an adequate amount, which is why we should consider supplementing Vitamin D in the winter months.
How much vitamin D should I supplement with?
As a rule of thumb we should look to intake around 1000iu of vitamin D for every 25kg body weight. Which means an average adult would be looking at 2000-3000iu daily during winter months, and some ‘at risk’ groups should supplement all year round.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have an auto immune disease or underlying health concern you may require more, but it is always advisable to talk to a professional nutrition advisor first.
Choosing a Supplement
There are many vitamin D supplements on the market, and many supermarket/high street brands can be of too low a dose or in the incorrect form.
The form of vitamin D is important, and choosing D3 may be more effective than D2, as it is believed to be metabolised quicker. To enhance absorption, look for vitamin D that also has vitamin K2.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, therefore those on a low fat diet, or have digestion issues may have trouble absorbing vitamin D, therefore choosing an emulsified (pre-digested) version may be more effective. Vegan D3 supplements are also available, just ask a nutritionist to recommend a good quality brand and advise on dosage.
If you think you are deficient in vitamin D, or would like to take a proactive approach to your healthcare during the winter months, get in touch.