Most people these days seem to be vitamin D deficient. According to the blood tests of my patients, the majority are low in vitamin D.
You probably know vitamin D as the “sunlight” vitamin and that to get more vitamin D you have to spend more time in the sun.
But even with this knowledge, you’re probably still low in your vitamin D levels.
What Is Vitamin D and What Does It Do?
Vitamin D is one of the many nutrients your body needs in order to stay healthy. The most well known roles of vitamin D are;
- Bone Health. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorous which help keep your bones strong and healthy.
- Block parathyroid hormone. Parathyroid hormone causes bone to be reabsorbed back in to the body. Vitamin D prevents excessive bone mineral loss.
These are the main roles of vitamin D, but more research is also suggesting that vitamin D has roles in;
- Muscle Function- including muscle strength and function.
- Your Immune System- a deficiency has been associated with increased autoimmune conditions and increased susceptibility to illness.
- Inflammation- adequate levels of vitamin D have been shown to inhibit some inflammatory responses.
- Protection Against Chronic Conditions- such as some cancers, colorectal disease, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Why Are Most People Low In Vitamin D?
Firstly if you’re living in the UK then we simply don’t have enough exposure to the sun throughout the year. But now that we’re approaching the winter, our sunlight exposure will be even less.
Even if there is enough sunlight, most of us can’t go out to bathe in it because we need to be indoors working.
But on the odd occasion when we do have an opportunity to sunbathe we often block the sunlight by applying sunscreen.
Not only that but the foods we can get some vitamin D in, we just aren’t eating enough of.
Your skin tone will also affect how much vitamin D your body needs. The darker your skin tone, the more vitamin D you will need and the more sunlight you will need to be exposed to.
How Can You Increase Your Vitamin D Levels?
It’s difficult at this time of year but we do get the odd sunny day. When it is sunny try and spend more time outdoors. Go for a walk, even if it’s for 15 minutes, it all adds up.
We can get some vitamin D through food, particularly fatty foods.
You can find some vitamin D through oily fish like mackerel, sardines and salmon; dairy products like butter, eggs and cheese; liver and some fortified foods.
Probably the easiest way of increasing your vitamin D levels especially during the dark winter months is through supplementation.
Most adults can take up to 4,000 IU/day and have no adverse reactions. However if you are going to take a vitamin D supplement you should get your levels tested first through your GP or by us because it is possible to take too much vitamin D and experience toxicity. A good dosage to start on for most adults is 1,000 to 2,000 IU/day.
I would also suggest you only use quality supplements rather than cheaper ones found in generic high street stores to ensure the quality is higher.
It is clear that the general population is suffering from a lack of vitamin D. Many of us simply just need to get out in the outdoors more and eat more foods rich in healthy fats containing vitamin D.
But it also may be beneficial for many of us to boost our vitamin D levels by taking a supplement. After all it seems that vitamin D has many beneficial roles in our health.
Speak to you soon,