Vitamin D- Should you be supplementing?

 

Vitamin D

While it isn’t advisable to self supplement without advice from a professional, vitamin D is one supplement we should all be considering taking.

From October to March, it is recommended that everyone supplements with vitamin D, because we can not produce adequate amounts from sunlight exposure. 

There are few food sources of vitamin D which we can include in our diet, however it is hard to get enough vitamin D through food alone. Food sources include:

  • Oily fish; Mackeral, Herring, Sardines, and salmon
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Cod liver oil
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified food and drinks

So why do we need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D plays an important role in our body’s by maintaining our calcium and phosphorus levels, in which it supports to keep our bones strong and healthy. Other roles include maintaining dental, muscle and joint health. Vitamin D has also been found to support our immune function, reduce inflammation and maintain mood regulation. 

What are the signs and symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency?

You can have a vitamin D deficiency without noticing any signs or symptoms but some of the signs and symptoms related to a deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pain and bone loss
  • Frequent illness or infections
  • Depression

Which individuals are at a higher risk of becoming deficient in vitamin D?

While it is advised that both children over 4 and adults supplement with vitamin D from October to March, some individuals at a higher risk of a deficiency may need to supplement all year round. 

Those include:

  • The housebound, frail or those in care homes who can not get outdoors 
  • People who usually wear clothes that cover most of their skin when outdoors 
  • People who have dark skin
  • Those with a medical condition affecting normal digestion of fat, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

How much vitamin D should we be taking?

Adults (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) are recommended to take 10 microgram (400IU) a day from October to March.

Babies under the age of 1 should have 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. If they are either breast fed or formula-fed and having less than 500ml of infant formula a day, they should be supplemented with vitamin D throughout the year. 

Children aged 1 to 4 are advised to be given a daily supplement of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D throughout the year. 

Getting your vitamin D levels tested

While we have guidelines for the advised dose of vitamin D that we should be taking, this is a blanket suggestion which doesn’t take in to account that some people may need more. To make sure you are getting the correct dose that you need it, it is best to test your vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D testing is available through your GP with a simple blood test. 

The optimal range for Vitamin D is Serum 25 (OH)D above 75nmol/L (>30ng/mL). 

Which supplement should you be taking?

When choosing a supplement, look for one that contains Vitamin D3, rather than Vitamin D2 as this is more effective at increasing your vitamin D levels. 

Your body needs an adequate intake of Vitamin K2 to improve uptake of calcium into bones. Some supplements combines both vitamin D and vitamin K2 for this reason. 

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