Vitamin D deficiency is much more common than you may think. The UK Government has recently voiced concerns over the nation’s vitamin D status with some groups being advised to take vitamin D supplements daily – these include children under five, pregnant and breastfeeding women, those over 65 and anyone with limited sun exposure. However recent research has highlighted that many healthcare professionals and parents are unaware of these guidelines and are confused as to how much and how to supplement vitamin D.
Our nutritional therapist, Catherine Jeans DipION mBANT CNHC is here to help you understand the facts about vitamin D deficiency and how you could protect yourself and your family.
Who has Vitamin D Deficiency?
You may be surprised to know that 90% of the British population are low in Vitamin D (below 80nmol/L) and 75% of young adults, the elderly and British Asian children are considered to have Vitamin D deficiency (The National Diet and Nutrition Survey). 5 – 20% of the population are considered to be severely deficient.
Testing for Vitamin D Deficiency
Because vitamin D deficiency is so widespread, the best course of action for the nation is for all children and adults to take vitamin D supplements. There are certain groups who are at more risk of vitamin D deficiency, and these include children under 5, the elderly, pregnant women and those with darker skin pigmentation. Also those with inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, gastric-bypass patients and those on medication that can interfere with Vitamin D metabolism, and this last group could benefit from regular blood testing for vitamin D status.
What does Vitamin D deficiency mean?
Although vitamin D deficiency is most commonly associated with bone health and conditions such as rickets, low levels are now associated with a number of other conditions, including:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Heart disease
- Fertility problems
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of death from cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Eyesight degeneration
- Risk of Parkinson’s
How to prevent Vitamin D deficiency? Can’t I just go out in the sunshine?
The problem in the UK is that we just don’t get enough sunshine. The sun is our major source of vitamin D, meaning that many of us are deficient by the time it gets to winter and certainly by spring.
Added to this, we tend to live sedentary lifestyles and when we do go out in the sunshine, cover ourselves in high factor sunblock. As we age and those with darker skin also tend to have less ability to synthesise vitamin D from sun exposure.
There are also very few sources of food that provide enough vitamin D. Fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring, trout and fresh but not tinned tuna are the richest sources of this essential nutrient but you would need up to 4 servings of wild salmon per day to maintain your vitamin D levels. Foods fortified with vitamin D also do not have enough of the nutrient to keep us from getting vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D Supplements – The Answer to Vitamin D Deficiency? How Safe Are They?
As vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, there have been concerns about toxicity from supplements. However, research shows that toxicity is very rare and is associated with extremely high and inadvertent supplementation of vitamin D.
With Vitamin D deficiency being so widespread, it is advisable for everyone to supplement daily, particularly during the winter and spring. Only D3, cholecalciferol, is advised as this is the form of Vitamin D naturally produced in response to the sunshine on our skin. Vitamin D2 is less effective and less likely to be metabolised and used by our bodies.
For adults to achieve optimal daily amounts of vitamin D, a supplement of between 1500 and 2000 IU is advised daily. However if low vitamin D status or vitamin D deficiency has been diagnosed, a higher dose is advised for a short period of time. It’s best to discuss your needs with a health professional. A dose of up to 1000IU is advised for children, and up to 1500IU for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
At The Orange Grove Clinic, we stock a wide range of vitamin D supplements, including liquid vitamin D3 which can be used by the whole family in different doses. Or we have D3 Lemon Melts 500, ideal for children, and D3 Lemon Melts 2000 ideal for adult maintenance to prevent vitamin D deficiency.
Also don’t forget to enjoy the sunshine… when it finally arrives! Remember sensible sun exposure is the key… depending on your skin type and how easily you burn, allowing a little sunshine onto bare skin before covering up and staying out of the sunshine is the best strategy.
If you would like to discuss your supplement needs with our nutritional therapist Catherine Jeans, please book a free 10 minute consultation by calling 01603 631900 or email email@example.com. Or if you are concerned about Vitamin D deficiency and would like to organise a private blood test or have an appointment to discuss your specific nutrient and dietary needs, please call the clinic today. Or you can go to our Contact Form .