Vitamin D deficiency – Could it happen to you?
It’s a myth that only children and elderly people need to replenish their vitamin D levels. In the Northern Hemisphere, many of us suffer from a vitamin D deficiency and generally we don’t recognise the symptoms.
The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are often diffuse; they include fatigue, a general lack of energy, and skeletal and muscle pain. During winter many people experience these symptoms without being aware that they can prevent them with a daily supplement of vitamin D.
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Vitamin D deficiency leads to osteoporosis
It’s vital for your body and your health that you obtain enough vitamin D. Vitamin D contributes to maintaining good gut health so that your body can absorb the calcium you ingest. Without an adequate intake of vitamin D and calcium, the bones and teeth deteriorate. But there’s no reason to wait until old age to prevent osteoporosis. The body should be prepared right from childhood.
Signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency
As mentioned above, the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are often diffuse. The only way to detect vitamin D deficiency is a blood test at the doctor’s. Maybe that’s something to discuss at your next doctor’s appointment if you have any concerns? However, it’s fairly easy to replenish your vitamin D levels. First and foremost, you need to eat food rich in vitamin D. As there aren’t many, they should be easy to remember: oily fish (herring, mackerel, salmon, trout and sardines) are the best sources, followed by egg yolk and roe. Some margarine and milk contain added vitamin D, although this is not as efficient as that in fish and cod liver oil.
The following covers the daily requirement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D as recommended by the NHS:
200 g oily fish (a regular tin with mackerel in tomato contains 120 g mackerel)
4 boiled eggs
1 teaspoon Möller’s Cod Liver Oil*
The sun is nature’s gift
The other thing you can do is to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Our bodies are built in such a way that the skin produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. This form of vitamin D doesn’t work in the intestines but is activated in the kidneys and liver. You should be out in the sunshine for five to twenty minutes per day to minimise the risk of vitamin D deficiency and you should really roll up your sleeves to get as much exposure as possible. But keep in mind that even though the sun is vital to us, excessive exposure is still harmful to your health. So enjoy the sun in moderation and always remember to use sunscreen with a high SPF if you’re in the sun for longer periods of time.
Vitamin D deficiency – a climate problem
Easier said than done in winter, you might think. The main reason so many people in the Northern Hemisphere show symptoms of vitamin D deficiency is the longer winters. From October to March, the sun in the UK isn’t strong enough to activate vitamin D production in the skin. The condition is worsened for those who spend little time outside in daytime and have limited exposure to sunlight.
How to easily avoid vitamin D deficiency
In addition to soaking up a bit of sun when possible, the NHS recommends taking vitamin d supplements during autumn and winter: a daily dose of 10 micrograms.
*Supplements does not replace a healthy diet