Benefits of Vitamin D
Lizzie, our Health Referral Advisor, is here to share her expertise about vitamin D!
Why do we need vitamin D?
Vitamin D, often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, is essential for keeping our bones, teeth and muscles healthy as it helps to regulate our levels of calcium and phosphorus in our bodies.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone related problems such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
Recent studies show that not having enough vitamin D is also related to other health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Research has also suggested that some mental health conditions such as depression, low mood and schizophrenia may also be related to inadequate levels of vitamin D, but more research needs to be carried out to confirm this.
Are there any links between vitamin D and immunity?
Vitamin D, amongst other nutrients, helps to regulate our immune function. However, it’s important to note that there is no evidence at this time to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat COVID-19.
So, where do we get our vitamin D from?
Our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight, and most of us in the UK will get enough vitamin D through sunlight exposure from late March to the end of September (don’t forget to wear sunscreen!). However, from October to early March we generally don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight. It’s possible to get small amounts of vitamin D in the following foods:
- Egg yolks
- Oily fish
- Red meat
- Fortified foods e.g. breakfast cereals
However, the amount of vitamin D gained through diet is not enough, meaning it’s recommended we take a supplement during the winter months. This is even more important throughout the current pandemic where we may not be getting outside as much as we would be normally!
How much should I take?
It’s recommended you take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day from the start of October through to early March. Avoid taking more than you need as taking too many supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body, which can weaken bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
Take a look at this NHS website for guidance on how much older adults and children should take and consult with a health professional before you take any supplements.