Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin D
Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an important vitamin that plays a vital role in keeping our bodies healthy and functioning properly.
As well as helping to keep our teeth and bones strong, studies have shown that a lack of vitamin D can cause us to become more susceptible to infection.
When we head into the winter months, viruses such as the flu and common cold spread quite quickly and it's likely that you will experience at least one of these viruses during this season.
It is now more important than ever to ensure that our immune system is working effectively.
Receiving sufficient amounts of vitamin D in your diet is not just beneficial, it is very important in order to keep you healthy and to avoid complications with illnesses and symptoms of vitamin D deficiencies.
How do you know if you are receiving enough vitamin D and how can you increase your levels of vitamins D?
Don't worry, we have included everything you need to know about Vitamin D, what it is, how much you need and how you can increase your intake of it, in this guide.
So without any further ado, let's jump in and discover exactly how vitamin D can benefit you and your body this winter.
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.
Where does vitamin D come from?
Most people can receive sufficient amounts of vitamin D from exposure to the sun from late March to late September.
We can gain the most vitamin D when sunlight is strongest, which is between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm.
We can also receive small amounts of vitamin D from our diet.
For those who cannot receive sufficient amounts of vitamin D from exposure to the sun through being housebound or through their diet due to dietary restrictions, supplements can be a useful way to increase your vitamin D intake.
Vitamin D supplements are also recommended during the autumn and winter months, when sunlight isn't as strong and we spend less time outside, to ensure we receive enough vitamin D.
It is important to keep in mind that UV rays from the sun can be dangerous, so avoid exposing unprotected skin to sunlight for excessive periods of time to avoid burning and sun damage.
It may seem like a good idea to use tanning beds to replicate spending time in the sun, but this is not recommended as tanning beds can cause severe damage to your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.
How much Vitamin D do I need?
Public Health England recommends that all adults and children over the age of 5 should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D, especially during autumn and winter.
The recommended dose is 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day.
It is recommended for those who are at a higher risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency to take 10 micrograms every day all year round.
Those who are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency include:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- People aged over 65 years
- Those who have low or no exposure to the sun
- Those who have an African, African-Caribbean or South Asian background, as you may not receive enough vitamin D from sunlight
- Those who may not eat animal products, including eggs and fish
- People who are obese or have had a gastric bypass
- Those who have malabsorption syndromes or taking medicines, such as antiresorptives, anticonvulsants, rifampicin
- People who have a family history of vitamin D deficiency
It is recommended that breastfed babies from birth up until 1 year of age, should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5-10 micrograms of vitamin D.
Babies who are formula-fed, should not be given a vitamin D supplement until they are receiving less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as infant formula is fortified with vitamin D.
Children aged 1 - 4 years should be given a daily supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D to support healthy development.
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.
Are Vitamin D and Vitamin D3 the same?
There are different types of vitamin D.
The two main types of vitamin D are vitamin D2 and D3.
Studies have shown that the most important type of vitamin D for our health is vitamin D3 compared with D2.
This is important to consider when choosing a vitamin D supplement.
When looking for the right vitamin D supplement for you, ensure that it is a vitamin D3 supplement or one that contains sufficient levels of both D2 and D3, as vitamin D2 is not sufficient on its own.
Vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) is the biologically active form of the vitamin that is converted from cholesterol in our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D2 is formed by plants when they are exposed to UV light.
Our bodies absorb and use vitamin D3 better, so make sure you check the label when purchasing a vitamin D product to ensure it contains vitamin D3!
Which vitamin D supplement should I take?
Now we know that the best type of vitamin D supplement contains either optimum levels of both D2 and D3 or solely D3, the next step is deciding which form of supplement you would like to take.
If you find it difficult to swallow traditional tablets, there are many other options available so you can find the best supplement for you.
As well as traditional capsules and tablets, you can also buy vitamin D3 in sprays, drops, chewable tablets and effervescent tablets that can be dissolved in water and administered as a drink.
You can also take vitamin D supplements that have added calcium or you can take multivitamins which include vitamin D with a range of other vitamins if required.
Whether you are looking for a vitamin D supplement for yourself, a relative who has trouble swallowing tablets due to age or disability or for your children, at Chemist4U we have a range of vitamin D products for you to choose from.
Are Vitamin D supplements vegetarian?
As most food sources that contain vitamin D3 are from animal products, it can be beneficial for vegetarians and vegans to take a vitamin D supplement.
Unlike Vitamin D2 which is created from plants, Vitamin D3 can sometimes be derived from animal products, so it is important that you check the patient information leaflet.
We have a range of vitamin d products that are suitable for vegetarians at Chemist4U, including: