Vitamin D plays an important part in the function of the body, regulating the amount of calcium your body needs to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
It primarily comes from sunlight, which means it’s easy to get during the summer months.
But during the winter months, with shorter sunlight hours and people spending more time inside to keep warm, you can stand the risk of being vitamin D deficient.
There are four groups of people at risk of vitamin D deficiency, according to the NHS.
It says: “Some people won’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure.”
The Department of Health recommends you take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D through the year if you:
- Aren’t often outdoors – for example, if you’re frail or housebound
- Are in an institution like a care home
- Usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors
The health body adds: “People with dark skin from African, African-Caribbean and south Asian backgrounds may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.
“They should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D throughout the year.”
A sufficient level of Vitamin D from sunlight should be possible between the months of March and October providing people have a healthy diet and are getting enough sun; however when daylight saving time starts, so does the start of the Vitamin D deficient season.
Dr Sam Rodgers, General Practitioner and Medical Director of Medichecks, recently detailed what you should do if you are vitamin D deficient, the symptoms to look for, and has explained why vitamin D is so important.
Why do we need vitamin D?
Insufficient levels of Vitamin D are more damaging than most people are aware, according to Dr Rodgers.
He said: “People think it’s just about bone health, and while this is an essential role of the hormone, we are reliant on it for far more. For starters, you are more likely to catch respiratory infections and it can take longer to recover from injury and illnesses.
“We see increased levels of autoimmune disease in people with vitamin D defiency, this includes problems like hypothyroidism and multiple sclerosis. There are also increased rates of heart disease such as heart attacks and heart failure. It is also important in thinking and memory.”
What should you do if you’re vitamin D deficient?
Dr Rodgers said if results show that you are deficient in Vitamin D then you should look to approved Vitamin D supplements to help you through the winter months.
Not only this, you should also increase the amount of vitamin D rich foods you eat – these include oily fish, mushrooms and egg yolks.
He explained: “The richest dietary sources of vitamin D are oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and fresh tuna. Mushrooms (particularly if you leave them out to bathe in the sun), these are the only good natural source for vegetarians. Egg yolks have vitamin D within them, however you need to eat twenty a day to meet your basic vitamin D requirements, which may prove difficult.
“There are also a range of fortified juices, cereals and other foods so it is always worth checking the nutrition panel to see how much of your vitamin D requirements are provided by packaged foods.”
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?