Susan Hart: Vitamin D – Should you take supplements?

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Its been widely reported in the press that we are recommended to take vitamin D supplements, after studies showed this “sunshine’ vitamin could protect against colds and flu.

So before you go rushing off to your nearest health food shop I would suggest you first of all have your vitamin D level checked by your GP.
Some of the common symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency are:
A true deficiency can only be confirmed by a blood test. But according to the NHS website, symptoms that may show you need a blood test are:
Aching bones
Having a low mood – vitamin D appears to have an effect on serotonin levels (feel good hormone
Being over 50 – the body makes less vitamin D as we age
Being overweight or obese – the higher your levels of body fat the more vitamin D is diluted (as it’s a fat soluble vitamin)
Having darker skin – it absorbs less of the suns rays
Gut troubles – coeliacs, Crohns or IBS can all affect the way the body absorbs fat soluble vitamins.
Those who spend a lot of time indoors – the elderly and infirm for instance

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How important is Vitamin D – What does it do?
The main job of vitamin D is to keep the right amount of calcium and phosphorous in our blood? These 2 nutrients work together to make our bones strong, so they don’t become brittle and break easily. If we don’t have vitamin D in our bodies, only a small amount of the calcium from our diet can be absorbed and only a little more than half of phosphorus is absorbed.
Vitamin D may also be linked to muscle strength, but this link is very recent and more trials and evidence needs to be gathered
Why is Vitamin deficiency so common in the UK?  We don’t absorb enough of the sun rays (overuse of sunblock) and spend a lot of time indoors
A 2007 survey estimated that around 50% of all adults have some degree of vitamin D deficiency.  The rates of rickets is children has risen fourfold in the last 15 years

Gem 106 radio contacted me this week for my opinion about vitamin D supplements.  Here’s an extract of that interview;

How can we increase our intake of vitamin D?
First and foremost expose your skin to 10-20 minutes of sun a day. – 90% of our vitamin D comes from this source. This has to be without sunscreen, so don’t do this when the sun is at its strongest and be sensible.
Certain foods are also high in vitamin D, including oily fish (such as salmon and sardines), eggs, milk/non dairy milk, orange juice. In the UK, infant formula and fat spreads are fortified with vitamin D. It is also added to other foods such as breakfast cereals, non dairy milks.
If your GP has confirmed you have below average levels of vitamin D, then some simple changes to your diet could be sufficient.

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Why not contact me and book a free short consultation and we can get you back on track
07946 301338

How soon would we see the benefit?
It can take up to 3 months, depending on how low your levels were

Can you have too much?
Yes,  according to the NHS website there is a vitamin D toxicity, which may cause high levels of calcium in the blood and can lead to kidney stones. It can affect some pople.ie Vitamin D supplements plus lots of sun and lots of fortified food, but it is rare.
symptoms (of hypercalcaemia) include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headaches, weakness or drowsiness
Always check with GP/pharmacist if you want to take supplements as some medical conditions can make you more sensitive to Vitamin D (liver/kidney disease)

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