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Are Vitamin D and Vitamin D3 the same thing?
To answer this question properly, we need to understand that Vitamin D is a type of vitamin, rather than the vitamin itself.
Vitamin D is used when we talk about Vitamins D3 and D2, which are slightly different from one another.
The main difference between the two is that Vitamin D2 comes from plant sources and Vitamin D3 comes from animal sources (e.g. cod liver oil, egg yolks).
Vitamin D3 is also created in your body when sunlight hits your skin, which is why the NHS advises Brits to take vitamin D supplements during the winter months.
If you buy Vitamin D or a multivitamin with Vitamin D included, the nutritional table on its packaging will let you know whether you’re getting Vitamin D2 or D3, so if you need one, in particular, this is where you’ll find the information you need.
How does vitamin D help the body?
Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin, as it is created by the body when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight.
We can also receive it by consuming certain foods, such as:
- Oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods, such as some breads and breakfast cereals
- Vitamin D is important, as our body requires it for maintaining both physical and mental health.
It helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, as well as helping our body to absorb calcium to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
Our bodies require vitamin D from birth, to ensure our bones are strong and to promote healthy development.
Does my child need vitamin D?
All children need vitamin D, starting shortly after birth.
Not only does vitamin D help your child to build strong bones, but it can prevent them from developing bone conditions such as rickets, a condition that softens bones and can occur in growing children.
The age of your child matters when it comes to their vitamin D intake.
Speak to your doctor for advice on how much vitamin D you should be giving your child.
How much vitamin D should I take?
The NHS recommends that everyone over the age of 4 should take 10 microgram vitamin D supplements during autumn and winter.
This is because we usually get vitamin D from sunlight hitting our skin and when the lovely British weather kicks in in the colder months it can be harder for us to catch those rays.
Although you can get vitamin D from your diet, it’s not the easiest vitamin to get enough of, which is why daily supplements step in to help.
If you’re someone who isn’t exposed to a lot of sunlight in general, you can take a vitamin D supplement all year round to help keep your levels up.
In which food is vitamin D found?
There are lots of food that can provide you with vitamin D, including fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel; dairy products, soy milk, orange juice, and cereals.
However, it is very difficult to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D through your diet alone.
The NHS recommends people in the UK should take a 10 microgram supplement per day, but don’t exceed 100 micrograms (4,000 IU).
What are the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency?
The trouble with a vitamin D deficiency is that it isn't always easy to spot.
Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can be subtle and you may not realise that you are deficient.
Signs of a vitamin D deficiency can include:
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Bone, joint or muscle pain
- Low mood or energy
- Being frequently ill
- Feeling anxious
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
A deficiency in children and babies can be quite dangerous, as it can lead to a disease called rickets.
This is a serious bone problem that can cause complications, such as bowed legs.
What are the benefits of magnesium supplements?
Magnesium is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure, heart rhythm and strong bones. If you’re low in magnesium, taking a magnesium supplement may result in improvements in your blood pressure and mood, as well as better blood sugar management and a lower risk of developing serious health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Who is at risk of magnesium deficiency?
Some people may be at risk of being low in magnesium - like those who drink a lot of alcohol, take certain medicines, are malnourished, have chronic diarrhoea, uncontrolled diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases or burns that affect a large area of the body. If you’re at risk of developing magnesium, you should visit your GP and request a blood test to see which vitamins or minerals you may or may not be lacking.