Vitamin D supplements help to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
Where do we get Vitamin D from?
Our bodies create vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors. From Spring through to the end of Summer, most of us are able to get sufficient vitamin D from sunlight. However, from October through to early March we tend not to get enough.
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods such as oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel), red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified spreads or breakfast cereals.
Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements. Many people chose to take these supplements, especially during the winter.
Vitamin D deficiency
During the Coronavirus pandemic, the fear is that some people will be spending more time indoors than usual. As a result, higher levels of vitamin D deficiency are being observed.
The signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, muscle aches, muscle cramps, mood changes like depression, nausea, cognitive difficulties, and frailty.
The elderly are at higher risk since they tend to spend less time outdoors or avoid sunshine. Also, as we age, the skin produces less vitamin D.
Muscle weakness and aches can lead to people wanting to spend less time outdoors. In turn, this can lead to difficulty standing up and climbing stairs. Falls may be more likely amongst those not getting enough vitamin D. People with Vitamin D deficiency have softer bones, they are more likely to injure themselves seriously or break bones as a result of falls.
Vitamin D supplements
Vitamin D is a crucial component of healthy ageing. Taking 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day between October and early March will help to keep our bones and muscles healthy.
Some people may benefit from taking supplements year-round if they are frail or housebound and so not often outdoors. Also if they usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin, or have dark skin.
Too much Vitamin D over a long period of time can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart. Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, consult your doctor. If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.
You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you’re out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.
At present, the Government is providing a free 4-month supply of vitamin D supplements to all adults who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Coronavirus.
Please click here for further information – www.nhs.uk/get-vitamin-d
The team at Gardiner’s will be happy to help you speak with you GP should you think that Vitamin D supplements may benefit your health.