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Vitamin D and why we need it

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Lots of us are recording low levels of Vitamin D - what should we do

Vitamin D, Why we need it.
Vitamin D - What you need to know

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:-

  • eggs,

  • fatty fish like salmon, herring, tuna and sardines

  • butter

  • margarine

  • Cheese

  • Milk

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:-

  • Osteoporosis

  • Muscle tenderness

  • 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

  • Visual disturbances

  • 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.


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