Our guide to the “sunshine vitamin” in winter!
Vitamin D is a hormone that your kidneys produce to control blood calcium concentration and it also impacts the immune system. The best source of vitamin D is from the sun. When your skin is exposed to the sun, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur.
Low vitamin D levels have been linked to osteoporosis, as those with low vitamin D levels are often people who are not exposed to the sun – for example, housebound or in a care home.
What if you don’t get enough?
According to the NHS, if you don’t get the right amount of vitamin D you could get a deficiency.
6 symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
Getting sick or infected often
Fatigue and tiredness
Muscle, bone and back pain
You can get vitamin D in a lot of everyday foods, oily fish – such as salmon, sardines or herring – liver, egg yolks and fortified foods.
Do I need to take supplements?
The recommended intake of vitamin D is at 10–20 micrograms per day. However, some studies suggest that a larger intake of 25–100 micrograms is needed to maintain optimal blood levels.
The Department of Health and Social Care has advised taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if:
You aren’t often outdoors – for example if you’re frail or housebound.
You are in an institution – for example, a care home.
You usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors.
If you have dark skin – for example, if you have an African, African-Caribbean or South Asian background, you may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.
Different types of vitamin D
The term “vitamin D” refers to several different versions of itself. The two versions important in humans are; ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). vitamin D2 is a synthetic form (man-made) and vitamin D3 is the internal form that we make.
A researcher called Adolf Windaus was first to discover 3 forms of vitamin D, which were called D1, D2, and D3.
It was later found out that the vitamin D1 was, in fact, a mixture of compounds rather than a vitamin D product, so the term D1 was made redundant.
Liquid vitamin D is another way of ensuring you get the vitamin D your body needs. In addition to supporting bone health, vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining cardiovascular health and promoting an overall sense of well-being. It is also good for making sure the bodies immune function is healthy and working!
What happens if I take too much vitamin D?
Over a long period of time, taking too many vitamin D supplements may cause calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia), according to the NHS. This may weaken the bones and damage your kidneys and heart.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements or are instructed to by a healthcare professional, 10 micrograms a day is enough for most people. The Department of Health and Social Care also advises you to consider taking a vitamin D supplement if you are pregnant.
If you suffer from osteoporosis, contact the Good Health Centre for more information on how we can help you by calling 0113 237 1173 or visit our website for more information about the treatments we provide.