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Why do I need a Vitamin D Supplement?

Why do I need a Vitamin D Supplement?

Why do I need a Vitamin D supplement?

There’s hardly a day goes by without something appearing in the popular Press regarding Vitamin D, affectionately known as ‘The Sunshine Vitamin’!  So essential to our health is this ‘wonder’ vitamin, that the Department of Health has now provided very specific guidelines on why we need to supplement Vitamin D.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us a great overview of why this vitamin is so important to our overall health.

What does Vitamin D do?

Its main function is to regulate calcium metabolism which is essential for healthy teeth and bones, together with phosphorus which also works synergistically with calcium.  Vitamin D is also key in maintaining a healthy immune system.  However, more research is being carried out all the time and it’s now becoming very clear that vitamin D is key in regulating mood, muscle growth, heart function and normal blood clotting.  However, one of its primary functions is to prevent rickets, the deficiency disease of vitamin D, which affects children and causes the tell-tale severely bowed legs.  As Vitamin D deficiency becomes more prevalent, this disease is also becoming much more common.

Where can I get if from?

Although it’s found in certain foods, namely egg yolks, fortified margarine, liver, oily fish and dairy products, its primarily made on the skin in the presence of sunlight.  Of course, this is where the problem potentially lies with people living in the Northern Hemisphere (including the UK,) because of the lack of sunlight during the winter months.  Hence the latest recommendations from the Department of Health.


What’s the recommendation for supplementation?

As of July 2016, Public Health England recommends taking a supplement containing at least 10 ug (micrograms) of Vitamin D during the autumn and winter months.  However, they have also identified certain sectors of the population who are more at risk of deficiency and are advised to supplement all-year round; people whose skin has little or no exposure to the sun, or who cover their skin when outside, ethnic minority groups with dark skin, from African, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds, pregnant and breastfeeding women and children aged 1 to 4 years.  Additionally, they also recommend that anyone who doesn’t eat foods containing Vitamin D, or who finds it difficult to get enough sunlight generally, should take a supplement all –year round.  And considering its key importance in health, together with it being a relatively inexpensive nutrient to use supplementally, it makes absolute sense for everyone to take it; it’s like having a health insurance policy!