Vitamin D and folic acid are both vital for our health. Vitamin D helps to bones, teeth and muscles healthy, while folic acid helps the body to make healthy red blood cells. …read moreSee less
Vitamin D supplements are recommended to everyone in the UK during the autumn and winter, and folic acid is recommended to all pregnant women. So, if you’re trying to get pregnant, or perhaps you’re deficient in vitamin D or folic acid, taking a combined supplement is a great way to get the nutrients you need.
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Who is more at risk of vitamin D deficiency?
Whilst we’re all at risk of having low vitamin D levels during the darker months in the UK, some people can be at risk all year round.
You should take a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement all year round if you spend a lot of time indoors (for example, if you’re frail or housebound), if you’re in an institution like a care home, or if you usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when you’re outdoors.
This also applies if you have dark skin - for example if you have an African, African-Caribbean or South Asian background - as your skin might not make enough vitamin D from sunlight alone.
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.
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.
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.
During which stage of pregnancy should I take folic acid?
The NHS advises that you should take 400mcg of folic acid during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy.
If you’re planning to become pregnant, you should take these folic acid supplements before your pregnancy too.
If you didn’t take folic acid before your pregnancy, you should start to take it as soon as you discover you’re pregnant.
What are good sources of folic acid?
Folic acid is the man-made form of the B vitamin folate, sometimes referred to as vitamin B9 or folacin.
Folate is found in small amounts in lots of foods including broccoli, brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans and fortified breakfast cereals.
If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, you should take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement every day until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
Why do pregnant women need to take folic acid?
If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, the NHS recommends that you should take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement every day until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
This is because folic acid helps to form the neural tube and low levels of the vitamin could lead to major birth defects of your baby’s brain.
It is best to start taking folic acid before you’re pregnant, as birth defects can occur within the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy, so make sure you’re getting your daily dose whilst trying to conceive.
How much folic acid should I take during pregnancy?
The NHS recommends that you should take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
If you have an increased chance of neural tube defects during your pregnancy, you may have to take a higher daily dosage of folic acid, which will usually be 5mg a day.
If you’re unsure whether you’re taking enough folic acid, speak to your doctor, pharmacist, or health visitor for advice.
What does folic acid do for men?
The benefits of folic acid for women are well known, but little is known about its effects on men.
It’s uncommon for men to have a deficiency in folic acid, but taking it as a supplement may present several benefits.
Folic acid may encourage hair growth by playing a role in the growth of cells, in addition to improving fertility and heart health, as well as helping with depression.