What you need to know about Vitamin D
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been a lot of talk about Vitamin D in 2020. However, Vitamin D isn’t new, and Public Health England has been advising the UK to take a daily supplement of 10 micrograms for the past few years. To better understand the role of vitamin D and why we need it, we have composed the following information for you to take help you on your way.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and its main function is to help with 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.
How much should we be getting?
The current guidelines are that ages 1 year + should take a daily supplement of 10 micrograms
Can we get enough vitamin D from food?
Unfortunately not. Vitamin D has two forms, Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 (often referred to as cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is found in foods such as milk, oily fish, eggs and mushrooms. However, vitamin D3 is made in the skin through exposure to sunlight. Consequently we can only get D3 from sunlight or a supplement.
When should we take a supplement?
Everyday. A 10 microgram supplement should be taken daily, ideally with a source of fat (yoghurts or milk is as an easy source, or take with breakfast). Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which means it needs fat (from food) to assist in transportation. In addition caffeine should be avoided for an hour before or after taking the supplement to ensure the vitamin is absorbed as adequately as possible.
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 length, skin type, sun lotion use and area of the body exposed. For example, sun lotion protects the skin from UVA rays to avoid skin damage however, it also prevents vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Consequently, you would still require a vitamin D supplement. If during spring/ summer months you are exposed to full sun for 30 minutes without sun lotion, you will not require vitamin D supplementation. Autumn/ winter months are more essential times to supplement as the sun is not powerful enough to get adequate vitamin D.
Will taking a higher dose be more beneficial?
Unless medically diagnosed with low Vitamin D, supplements of this degree are not needed and are potential dangerous. High doses are for a specific group of people who need more intake 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 advised.
Are expensive tablets better than cheaper ones?
As long as the tablet contains 10 micrograms of Vitamin D (look for cholecalciferol, the specific Vitamin D3 form), it does not matter if it’s an own brand or more expensive variety. Vitamin D3 is derived from animal sources, vegan options are available.
When buying Vitamin D3 tablets ensure they are in a sealed container and are dark (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 in the diet so make sure you’re eating sources of Vitamin D rich foods:
- Eggs (yolks included)
- Oily Fish
- Red meat
- Fortified cereals, milks, yoghurts and butters