Vitamin D is well known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ and is responsible for many important functions within the body. But, are we getting enough?
For most people, lockdown will mean being indoors for much of the day. Many people are not fortunate enough to have a garden and with only one walk a day we are limited to the amount of sunshine we can get at the moment.
Under normal circumstances from about April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight but now we are forced to spend most of our time indoors there is an increased risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency as we may not be getting enough sunlight to replenish our levels.
The Public Health Agency has recommended that people supplement with vitamin D supplements during lockdown.
“As a result of being inside more, we may not be getting enough vitamin D from sunlight. We are advising that everyone should consider taking a supplement of vitamin D every day to keep their bones, teeth and muscles healthy.” Caroline Bloomfield, The Public Health Agency (PHA) lead on Nutrition and Healthy Eating
It is vital that we get enough of this important hormone as vitamin D has many important functions within the body and plays a vital role in:
Immunity which plays an important role supporting the immune system.
Hormonal health by balancing our sex hormones
Supporting a healthy digestive system
Bone health, as vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, both needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscle
Improving brain development and function
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for everyone and we get it from two main sources, sunlight and food such as oily fish, egg yolks and mushrooms
There are two types of vitamin D. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) from plant sources, i.e. mushrooms, and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) from animal sources such as oily fish and egg yolks as well as the supplemental forms. Vitamin D3 is the more powerful of the two types as it is bioavailable and raises blood levels of vitamin D almost twice as much as D2.
A blood test can determine your current levels so you know what dosage you need to take. The blood levels of vitamin D are assessed by measuring 25(OH) D - 25-hydroxy vitamin D in the blood.
It can be a good idea to get tested to see what your levels are so that the correct dosage of supplemental vitamin D can then be given. I would suggest that if you are concerned you or your family are not getting enough to get tested. During Covid-19 this is not possible to get this via your GP but please let me know if you would like help getting a finger prick test and/or interpreting your test results.
Public Health England vitamin D recommendations
Public health England have recently increased the recommended level to 25ug/day during the current pandemic. PHE normally recommends everyone in the general population aged 4 years and older to have 10 micrograms (400UI) of vitamin D daily, throughout the year. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women and population groups at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency. For all infants from birth to 1 year of age 8.5 to 10 micrograms (340-400 IU/d) of vitamin D per day is recommended; however, children who have more than 500ml of milk (including baby milk formula) every day do not need any additional vitamin D.
There are many vitamin D supplements on the market but sprays/drops are more easily absorbed rather than tablets or capsules and also drops are easier for children to take.
Remember, get advice from health and wellness experts who are qualified and experienced like myself and be very careful of taking your advice form Dr Google
If you would like some support and help to get through these challenging times then please don’t suffer in silence.
It is possible to get too much vitamin D/overdose from supplements which can cause Hypercalcemia (abnormally high calcium level in your blood) and signs include nausea and vomiting. However, it is almost impossible to get too much vitamin D from sunlight or from foods alone. So, too much can be as harmful as too little, and if in doubt get your levels checked