You’ve probably seen in the news over the past week that vitamin D has been hitting the headlines.
Scientists, it seems, have worked out that we aren’t getting enough of this super-essential vitamin that is needed by the body to help build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. It’s a special concern for growing children and ladies as they get older as they have an increase risk of osteoporosis – brittle bone disease.
Vitamin D deficiency is now also being tied to a number of other conditions, with research showing potential links with many different cancers, autoimmune diseases and cardiovascular conditions.
Vitamin D is created naturally by the body in sunlight – and here in the UK, we just aren’t getting enough of it, particularly as we tend to cover up with suncream at the first rays of light – and many of them block out the vitamin D-forming rays.
Healthy people in the UK, should produce just enough over the summer to get them through the winter months. But the effect of sun block and the fact we tend to spend a lot of time indoors working, means we probably aren’t producing enough at all. It’s also a particular concern for people with dark skin (the melanin pigment will block out the sun’s rays) and anyone who covers up for cultural reasons.
Eating some foods can help boost stores: look for oily fish, cheese, liver and egg yolks, as well as fortified cereals – but it’s still likely you’re not getting enough, in which case supplementing is likely to be essential.
While the weather is good, it obviously makes sense to get as much as possible. Get in the sun for 15 minutes or so three times a week (between 11am and 3pm is best) and make sure you have some bare skin showing: face, arms, legs, hands.
A few minutes without sunscreen is fine, but also remember if you’re in the sun for a prolonged period of time, it’s time to slap on some factor 50.
If you’re especially concerned about your levels, you can ask your doctor for a vitamin D test to check your levels.