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Vitamin D: What is it, how do we get it, and why do we need it?

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is often referred to as ‘the sunshine vitamin’, it’s purpose is to regulate the calcium and phosphate levels in our bodies that contributes to stronger bones, teeth and muscles. While we do get Vitamin D from a number of food sources, it’s actually UV from sunlight on our skin that gives us our biggest vitamin D boost which is why winter is often associated with low levels of vitamin D.

Winter for many can be a difficult time, but it’s likely that this year you’ve probably spent a little bit more time inside than you usually would. A standard winter may put some people off spending time outdoors due to poor weather and darker evenings, but this year there is the additional aspect of Coronavirus regulations and uncertainty that may be keeping people indoors more than usual.

Due to this extended time indoors due to Coronavirus shielding, over 2.5. Million people in England are being contacted and offered free vitamin D supplements to top up low levels. The groups considered most at risk of low-levels of vitamin D are those in care homes and those who have serious health conditions and may have spent much of 2020 shielding and not going outdoors.

"We advise that everyone, particularly the elderly, those who don't get outside and those with dark skin, take a Vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms (400IU) every day. This year, the advice is more important than ever with more people spending more time inside, which is why the government will be helping the clinically extremely vulnerable to get Vitamin D." - Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England

While those mentioned will be receiving a letter from the Government about opting in for free vitamin D supplements, they aren’t the only people who could be at risk of low levels of vitamin D. Others who are more likely to be at a higher risk of low Vitamin D levels are people with darker skin, those who cover up for religious reasons, pale-skinned people and those who are generally unwell. This can be due to not getting enough vitamin D on a daily basis or in the case of those with darker skin, their skin simply doesn’t produce Vitamin D at the same rate. If you want to know more about vitamin D, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions below:

What Does Vitamin D Do?

Vitamin D helps to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies. Both calcium and phosphate are needed for strong, healthy muscles, bones and teeth.

How Do I Get Vitamin D?

There are a number of sources where you can get the Vitamin D that your body needs, but all vary ineffectiveness.

  • Sunlight: Sunlight is one of, if not the best source of this particular nutrient. Time in the outdoors in sunlight will boost your vitamin D levels.
  • Fatty Fish & Seafood: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, oysters, shrimp, sardines, anchovies are all a source of vitamin d as well as other healthy nutrients, however, the levels are quite low.
  • Mushrooms: Mushrooms are one of the few plant-based options for absorbing vitamin D, but much like oily fish the levels are again quite low.
  • Egg Yolks: Opt for eggs from free-range chickens, as much like humans, it depends on how much time the source spends in sunlight for how much vitamin d it produces.
  • Vitamin D Supplements: The quickest and easiest way to make sure you’re getting your full recommended daily intake of vitamin D is to take a vitamin D supplement. These are especially recommended in the winter months. Vitamin D supplements are available in all pharmacies as well as some supermarkets. You’ll find a range of vitamin D supplements such as Vitamin D capsules, Vitamin D tablets and Vitamin D spray here at Tower Health.

How Much Vitamin D Should I Take?

Due to regular low levels of vitamin D through winter months, a few years ago Public Health England recommended that adults and children should be getting 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day between October and March.

If you’re healthy and active, the chances are that during the months of April to September, you likely get enough vitamin D naturally from sunlight.

What is the Difference Between Vitamin D and Vitamin D3?

When looking for Vitamin D supplements you may have noticed some state D3 and D2. Vitamin D can be found in both, typically D2 is derived from plants whereas D3 may be derived from animals. Vitamin D3 is said to be the more effective of the two for maintaining good Vitamin D levels, so if it isn’t against your dietary choices, you should opt for Vitamin D3.

What are the Symptoms of Low Vitamin D?

As with any medical condition, it’s always advised to speak with your doctor rather than diagnosing yourself. However here are some common symptoms of low Vitamin D or a Vitamin D deficiency:

  • Regularly getting ill
  • Tiredness / Fatigue
  • Bone and Back Pain
  • Slow Wound Healing
  • Muscle Pain

Due to the general nature of some of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice as the condition could be a number of things.

Can You Get Vitamin D from Sunbeds?

Exposure to UVB light will always increase Vitamin D levels, however due to the artificial nature of sunbeds the benefits are outweighed by the health risks. It’s much cheaper and healthier to strike a balance between supplements and time outside.

Will Vitamin D Help with Seasonal Depression?

It’s long been pondered what role Vitamin D plays in mood management and depression, some think that Vitamin D can indeed improve our moods, while others are quick to debunk the medical connection. It could well be that the elements associated with boosting Vitamin D such as healthier lifestyle, healthy foods and time outside in the fresh air are also the same things recommended for those with a low mood. If you’re suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) as many people do during winter months, ensure that you make the effort to incorporate time outside and fresh air into your day, it could help to clear away the cobwebs and lift your spirits.

Tower Health stocks a range of natural vitamins and nutrients designed to support a healthy lifestyle. If you’re looking to buy vitamin D supplements online then you’ll find them in our web store.

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