In the last few years we’ve seen a lot of stories about vitamin D and how we Brits aren’t getting enough, but why has it suddenly become newsworthy?
Vitamin D is so called the sunshine vitamin because that is where most of the vitamin D in our body comes from. Small amounts can be obtained from food such as oily fish, eggs, red meat and milk; while most of it actually comes from the effect of sunlight on our skin. But with lifestyle habits changing and spending less time outside, it appears some of us no longer getting enough, particularly during the winter months.
Despite being vital for keeping our bones healthy, the latest UK wide nutrition survey (NDNS1) now shows that up to 10 million of us aren’t getting enough. Yet without it, children can develop rickets (which is again on the increase), while the over-50s, and especially women, are more likely to suffer poor bone health and fractures.
That’s not the only benefit of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps contribute to the normal function of the immune system and also contributes to normal muscle function.
Some of us are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than others. According to the recognised health body: NICE2, the most vulnerable groups include people over the age of 65, pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under the age of four, those with darker skins (because the pigment in their skin acts as a barrier) and those who have little exposure to the sun as a result of covering up (perhaps because of religious or cultural practices) or spending too much time indoors (perhaps from being housebound).
In fact, recent government guidelines and the NHS3 recommend that everyone should consider taking a daily supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D (which may appear on packs as 400iu) during the autumn and winter months, while vulnerable groups – including those with darker skin, babies and children under , and people with low or no exposure to the sun – are advised to take a vitamin D supplement all year round4. That’s because the amount of UV light we are exposed to during the winter is greatly reduced and too low for our bodies to produce enough vitamin D. If you’re worried about your own vitamin D levels, particularly if you are in an ‘at-risk’ group speak to your Pharmacist or GP.
So if you’re looking for supplements, what’s around? Check out the vitamin D range at Boots where all vitamins are on a 3 for 2 offer. Some examples are highlighted below for you:
Boots Vitamin D: £2.29 for 90 tablets, less than £10 per 12 months on the 3 for 2 offer! Fultium Daily D3, which usually costs £3.99 for 30 capsules, and is also available in packs of 90, or as drops. For babies, there’s Ddrops, priced at 9.99 for 60, and older children: Haliborange, priced from £4.89.
Don’t forget, however, that food still supplies some of our vitamin D needs. Bearing in mind that the best sources include oily fish such as anchovies, carp, herring, mackerel, pilchards, salmon, sardines, sprats, swordfish, trout, tuna, and whitebait, so aim to eat at least two portions per week.4
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