Vitamin D deficiencies ‘are common throughout the year’ – Government recommendations

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Government advice is that everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter. In general, the NHS says: “From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.”

Doctor Ioannis Liakas, Medical Director at Vie Aesthetics said: “Vitamin D deficiencies are common throughout the year, especially in the UK where sunlight is limited.

“It is believed that as many as 60 percent of the UK population have lower than the recommended levels.

“While government advice suggests that we consume a daily Vitamin D supplement of 10mg per day during the winter months, during the Spring, Summer and Autumn it is equally as important to ensure our Vitamin D levels do not drop below a safe level.”

Doctor Ioannis noted vitamin D supplements can be taken orally through tablets, drinks, and certain types of food- namely, oily fish and dairy products.

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Doctor Sarah Brewer, Medical Director of Healthspan, said: “You only make vitamin D in your skin when the UV index is greater than three so our levels tend to plummet during autumn and winter in people living in northern latitudes such as the UK.”

She added: “Even when the sun is shining, many people fail to synthesis sufficient vitamin D because they cover up, use high SPF sunscreens, or stay in the sun for more than 20 minutes which causes inflammation (sunburn) that breaks down the vitamin D they’ve already produced.

“We also produce vitamin D in our skin less efficiently with age – as a result, skin concentrations of vitamin D fall by at least half between the ages of 20 to 80 years – often more.

“In one study, people aged 62 to 80 years synthesised four times less natural vitamin D than those aged 20 to 30 years.”

She said food sources then become important but if you don’t eat much oily fish, liver products, eggs, butter or fortified foods, you are likely to remain deficient during winter and into spring and even summer, too.

She added symptoms that may be due to vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Increased susceptibility to infection.
  • Poor growth
  • Bone pain
  • Bone deformities (in rickets)
  • Deafness (in osteomalacia).

The NHS says taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body which can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.

If you exceed the upper limit it can lead to feelings of nausea. Other signs you have taken too much include vomiting, muscle weakness, and loss of appetite.

The Cleveland Clinic says: “Do not take higher-than-recommended doses of vitamin D without first discussing it with your doctor.

“However, your doctor might recommend higher doses of vitamin D if he or she is checking your blood levels and adjusting your dose accordingly.

The Mayo Clinic says: “Vitamin D toxicity, also called hypervitaminosis D, is a rare but potentially serious condition that occurs when you have excessive amounts of vitamin D in your body.

“Vitamin D toxicity is usually caused by large doses of vitamin D supplements — not by diet or sun exposure.

“That’s because your body regulates the amount of vitamin D produced by sun exposure, and even fortified foods don’t contain large amounts of vitamin D.

“There is currently not enough evidence to support taking vitamin D solely to prevent or treat COVID-19,” the NHS says.

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