What you need to know about Vitamin D – There has been a lot of talk around Vitamin D in 2020 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. However, Vitamin D isn’t new, and Public Health England has been advising the UK to take a daily supplement of 10mcg for the past few years! So, as we are on the topic of Vitamin D I thought we should share some key points about the vitamin and help you on your way!
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and its main function is to help the absorption of calcium. If you are deficient in Vitamin D the chances are you will be deficient in calcium. As a result you can experience bone pains or pains in muscles when your Vitamin D is low.
How much should we be getting?
The current guidelines are that ages 1 year + should take a daily supplement of 10mcg.
Can we get enough from food?
Unfortunately not. Vitamin D has two forms, Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is found in foods such as milk, oily fish, eggs and mushrooms. However, we can only get D3 from sunlight and/or a supplement.
When should we take a supplement?
Everyday a 10mcg supplement should be taken, ideally with a fat source (yoghurts or milk is as an easy source, or take with breakfast). Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin therefore needs fat to assist in transportation. To ensure full absorption of the vitamin, avoid taking with caffeine. Wait an hour before or after drinking caffeine to ensure complete absorption.
If we get enough sun exposure do we still need to take a supplement?
Absorption of Vitamin D3 depends on the time of day, exposure, skin type, sun creams and area of the body. To ensure you’re getting adequate intake it is best to take a daily supplement of 10mcg. On days where it is sunny and you have full exposure to the sun (without sun cream) you may be able to get away with not taking your supplement; trust your judgement.
Please note: Vitamin D3 is best absorbed to larger surface areas such as the arms and legs. Also, where possible be sun safe and wear sun cream. Sun cream protects the skin from sun damage and skin cancer so should always be worn when possible.
Will taking more be better for us?
Unless medically diagnosed with low Vitamin D, supplements of this degree are not needed. High doses like this are for a specific group of people who need more for medical reasons.
What happens if we take too much?
Due to its link with calcium absorption, excess Vitamin D can cause calcium build up known as hypercalcaemia. This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and heart. Please do not take more than is needed.
Are expensive tablets better than cheaper ones?
As long as the tablet contains 10mcg of Vitamin D (look for cholecalciferol, the specific Vitamin D3 form). It does not matter if it’s Tesco own brand or a more expensive variety. Vitamin D3 is derived from animal sources so if you are vegan you can look for a vegan alternative.
When buying Vitamin D3 tablets ensure they are in a sealed container and one that you can’t see through. Sunlight and air can reduce the quality of the vitamins so keep in a cool dark cupboard with the lid tightly secured.
Vitamin D2 is still essential so make sure you’re eating sources of D rich foods:
- Egg yolks
- Oily Fish
- Red meat
- Fortified cereals, milks, yoghurts and butters
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