Maintain that sunshine feeling

Carolyn Holmes

Despite the sun doing a great disappearing act this Summer, we hopefully have all had the chance to top up our levels of the “sunshine” vitamin D.

During winter months in the UK, there is not enough UVB for vitamin D synthesis so we rely on our body-tissue stores, supplements and dietary sources for this vital nutrient.

Beneficial Effects

Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption and bone health. Lack of vitamin D causes rickets in children and osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults. Recent research has shown the importance of vitamin D for immunity and deficiency may be related to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, other autoimmune conditions and some cancers.

Sources

Vitamin D is made by the action of sunlight on our skin, so Summer sun should keep our vitamin D levels greater than the current recommendation of 25nmol/l in winter. Some scientists suggest that levels above 50nmol/L are ‘sufficient’, while 70–80nmol/L is considered ‘optimal’.

Supplementation may help to maintain levels in the winter. The Department of Health currently recommends a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement for those at risk of vitamin D deficiency particularly; pregnant and breastfeeding women, young children, older people, darker skinned people, those who cover their skin or those confined indoors.

Foods can certainly contribute to vitamin D status; on average, UK men and women get 3.7 µg and 2.8 µg of vitamin D per day through diet. But this may not sufficiently raise levels in people who experience deficiency.

Good food sources include

Oily fish and fish oils
Liver and lean meat
Eggs
Fortified foods such as some milks, fat spreads and breakfast cereals

If you are at risk of deficiency you can have your vitamin D level tested, and discuss ways of improving your intake through diet & lifestyle changes with a Nutritional Therapist.

To find out more contact Carolyn Holmes at the Holistic Centre.

References
www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Documents/Concensus_statement