Richmond Practice - What is Vitamin D and why is it important?

What is Vitamin D and why is it important?

There is a growing interest in Vitamin D and it’s effects on our health. There seems to be a growing body of evidence to suggest that a Vitamin D could seriously affect your health. Low Vitamin D levels have been linked with a general sense of feeling unwell. They have also been observed in several health conditions such as mental ill health, infertility and frequent infections. Some further research is required to confirm that low Vitamin D levels are to be blamed for causing all these health conditions.

Vitamin D crucially regulates the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphate which contributes to forming and maintaining healthy bones. Maintaining an adequate concentration of vitamin D is important for children, teenagers and for pregnant women to ensure their babies are born with enough vitamin D for the first few months of life. For adults over 50 years the evidence overall suggests that Vitamin D supplements improve muscle strength and function.

We get most of our Vitamin D through sunlight exposure, but some foods and dietary supplements are also important sources of Vitamin D especially when sunlight exposure is limited (e.g. during the winter months). In the UK, sunlight-induced Vitamin D production is only effective between late March and September.

Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

Different groups at risk are:
  • pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • children under 5 years of age - people aged 65 and over
  • people who have darker skin
  • those who cover their skin for cultural or other reasons
  • individuals who are housebound
From the age of four years onwards a supplement of 10 μg/d (400 IU/d) of Vitamin D is recommended during the winter months.

What can I do to raise my vitamin D levels?

Few food sources are naturally rich in Vitamin D. Significant amounts of Vitamin D are mostly available in foods of animal origin like:
  • egg yolk
  • oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines;
  • animal products such as meat, fat, liver and kidney;
  • wild mushrooms are also a rich natural source of Vitamin D2.
Foods fortified with Vitamin D are widely available in the UK (breakfast cereals, soya products, some dairy products, powdered milks and fat spreads) as well as dietary Vitamin D supplements which contain either Vitamin D2 or D3. The prescription of high dose supplements should be reviewed by your doctor to prevent potentially harmful overdosing of vitamin D.

For a vitamin D blood test, consultation and prescription call today for a same-day appointment with a private GP at Elsbeth's Doctors. The practice also offer a range of essential and comprehensive health checks if you feel tired and run down at this time of year. Book online or call 030 0303 5009.

SACN_Vitamin_D_and_health_report July 2016


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