Vitamin D Deficiency
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a group of vitamins that help the intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. While there exist around 5 forms of vitamin D, the 2 most important categories of vitamin D remain D3 and D2 vitamins. Vitamin D is found in some foods such as fatty fish and fish liver oils, but in very small quantities. The main source of vitamin D is from sunlight (UV light)- explaining its popular connotation as the “sunshine” vitamin.
Vitamin D deficiency in the UK is more common than generally thought. It is estimated that 1 in 5 adults and around 1 in 6 children in the UK are vitamin D deficient. This accounts for an estimated 10 million people who face a deficiency in vitamin D, according to data gathered by Public Health England. Interestingly, an article in Reuters highlights that around 80% of UK teens do not get enough exposure to sunlight.
With the constant grey weather in the UK, this comes as no surprise, does it? Moreover, lifestyle is more geared toward the indoor than the outdoor for the contemporary British individual-he spends hours at work, hours on his computer or television at home. This further reduces the amount of sunlight exposure he gets.
The recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin D in the UK is just 5mcg (200 IU) per day, although the requirements can go up to 25mcg (1000 units) during winter.
How to know if you are deficient in vitamin D?
Certain types of persons are at a higher risk of suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. These persons include:
· People with darker skin
A darker skin means that you need the more sun to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person. Melanin in darker toned persons hinders vitamin D synthesis.
· Those who stay indoors a lot during the day
· People using a lot of sunscreen
Sunscreen decreases the absorption of vitamin D. SPF 8 sunscreen is thought to reduce vitamin D production in the skin by 95%, and SPF15 reduces vitamin D production by 99%.
· Those aged over 65 years
Older people generally have thinner skin and this hinders their capacity to produce vitamin D. They also spend more time indoors which prevents an effective synthesis of vitamin D.
· Pregnant women
Pregnant women are advised to take
Symptoms of a deficiency in vitamin D include tiredness and general aches and pain. However, an individual might still be deficient in vitamin D and not have any of the mentioned symptoms. The best way to know if you are truly deficient is to get a vitamin D blood test with your physician.
Common medical conditions associated with a severe vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, bone pain, muscle pain, joint pain, migraines, skin pigmentation problems and even rickets. Some people with a vitamin D deficiency develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and can even become depressed.
Please go to this link if you want to know more about SAD:
How to get more vitamin D and prevent a deficiency?
1. Get more sunlight
Get around 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight, at least two to three times a week, without using sunscreen (Remember sunscreen diminishes vitamin D production). However, it is not always realistic to do so with work and other personal commitments for many people. In which case, it is better to take vitamin D supplements and get a controlled exposure to a vitamin D lamp.
2. Use a vitamin D supplement
3. Use a vitamin D lamp
However, we recommend careful use of vitamin D supplements and of vitamin D lamps. While vitamin D toxicity is extremely rare, it can cause hypercalcemia. This can cause immediate problems such as poor appetite, nausea and vomiting. If not attended to, hypercalcemia leads to high deposits of calcium in organs such as the kidneys, heart and liver, resulting in pain and organ damage. Vitamin D toxicity occurs with an intake of more than 1250 mcg/day (50,000 IU) for several months. This is a very high amount that is not likely to be attained by taking recommended doses of vitamin D supplements and exposure to vitamin D lamps. Vitamin D deficiency is far more common.
Study between vit D intake and depression
Bad effects of low vit D intake:
Studies have found that in the winter, when there is less available sunlight; vitamin D deficiencies often get worse. It is estimated that 1 in 5 adults and around 1 in 6 children in the UK are vita..