Updated: Oct 17
Lots of us are recording low levels of Vitamin D - what should we do
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a hormone that controls the amount of calcium in the blood. We need it for strong bones
Vitamin D is essential for normal growth and development
Getting some sun can help with your Vitamin D levels but the UV light responsible for the Vitamin D can also cause skin damage and cancer so be responsible in the sun.
We can only get a limited amount of Vitamin D at a time from being in the sun which is why even those who spend a lot of time outside can find themselves Vitamin D deficient.
Aside from the sun how do we get Vitamin D into out body?
Choose foods rich in Vitamin D such as:-
fatty fish like salmon, herring, tuna and sardines
It is difficult to get all of your Vitamin D through your food so in some cases a Vitamin D supplement is encouraged to ensure that Vitamin D levels are adequate. What if I am low in Vitamin D?
Vitamin D deficiency may not be obvious, but the long term effects include:-
Rickets which is a bone disease - quite preventable with good Vitamin D levels, Rickets will cause Osteomalacia - a softening of the bones and possible abnormalities of weight-bearing bones
Low calcium levels
Who is more at risk of Vitamin D deficiency?
Those with dark skin because Melanin (the skin pigment) can block absorption of UV radiation
Those who avoid the sun, spend a lot of time indoors, or need to cover up more when outside
Those who are obese are also at risk
Those with certain medical conditions including end-stage kidney disease and conditions which reduce the amount of fat absorbed including coeliac disease.
Breastfed babies whose mother is Vitamin D deficient
Some medications will also affect Vitamin D absorption.
What should I do?
Try and combine exercising outdoors, making some changes to your diet to increase Vitamin D rich foods, and have regular blood tests if you are deficient. NOTE:
Most GP's will now conduct a Vitamin D test when having annual blood tests completed as it is important for long term bone health to ensure that your levels are adequate. Please ensure that you are having Vitamin D testing completed at least annually to check that you are not deficient, even if you spend a lot of time outside.