Vitamin D deficiency is very common across the world. In the UK alone, around 1 in 5 of us suffer from low levels of this essential nutrient, partly because the best source is exposure to the sun.
Between October and March, the sun is too weak and too low in the sky for us to get sufficient amounts to stay healthy. Matters are made even worse if we spend a lot of time indoors, live in a city, have dark skin, wear skincare products that contain sunscreen or we suffer from a malabsorption condition such as celiac disease or IBS.
For these reasons, the UK government advises that we all take a vitamin D supplement during the winter.
Could you be at risk? What are the signs of a vitamin D deficiency? Which are the best supplements to take? Let us explain.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is actually a hormone that helps to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. It also supports our immune systems and helps protect our nervous system.
Known as ‘the sunshine vitamin’, it can also be found in some foods such as oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and some fortified foods. In the UK, cow’s milk isn’t a good source of vitamin D because it isn’t fortified here.
What is vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency happens when you don’t get enough of the nutrient to meet your body’s needs. The symptoms of a deficiency can include:
● Aches and pains
● Severe bone pain
● Muscle pain and weakness
● A general feeling of being ‘run down’ or unwell
● Stress fractures in your legs, pelvis and hips
● Poor immune system response
It can also lead to health problems such as rickets (a bone development problem that occurs in children and can lead to deformities) and bone problems such as pain, osteoporosis and osteomalacia. Often, these bone problems are the first sign of a deficiency.
If you suspect you may have low vitamin D levels, you should make an appointment with your GP. They will arrange for a blood test and possibly x-rays to check your bone health. Should a problem be detected, they will prescribe vitamin D supplements.
Which are the best vitamin D supplements to take?
The recommended dose of vitamin D is currently 10 μg (micrograms) or 400 IU (International Units) per day. However, you should be able to take vitamin D supplements up to 25 μg (micrograms) or 1000 IU without a problem.
Here at Whitworth, we have a range of vitamin D supplements that can suit your family’s needs. Shop vitamin D products online by clicking here.