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Friday

 

What is vitamin D? A deficiency can lead to DIABETES and even multiple sclerosis
























A VITAMIN D deficiency isn't one of the most talked about medical complications but it has serious implications including a connection with cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

Vitamin D can be found in many products - including natural sources like animal-based products, including fish and fish oils.

But being deficient in the vitamin can lead to complicated health problems with symptoms including bone pain and muscle weakness. Express.co.uk have asked all the questions you need to know the answer to, including how to get more vitamin D and who's more susceptible to being deficient in the mineral.

We spoke to a series of experts in the field including Boots UK Pharmacist, Tom Kallis, Vicky Pennington, a Boots UK Nutritionist and Consultant Nutritionist and Dietitian Juliette Kellow.

What is vitamin D?
Vicky Pennington, Boots UK Nutritionist, said: Vitamin D helps to maintain healthy bones as without adequate vitamin D you cannot absorb calcium into the body. It also helps to maintain a healthy immune system.

Are woman lower in vitamin D than men?
VP: Some groups have higher vitamin D requirements and are particularly at risk of deficiency - babies and young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, pregnant teenagers and older people.

The UK Department of Health recommends:
5 micrograms for adults. This is 100% of the recommended daily allowance
7 micrograms for children under 5
10 micrograms for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers
10 micrograms for older people, those of Asian / African origin and those who don't get much sun


Can you ever get too much vitamin D?
VP: Yes, it is a fat soluble vitamin that the body can store. When choosing a supplement Boots recommend that you do not take more than 25 micrograms a day, as this is the safe upper limit (SUL) as currently outlined by the governments expert group on vitamins and minerals
How can we boost our vitamin D levels in the winter?
VP: Vitamin D is called the "sunshine vitamin" because most of the vitamin D we need is made by sunlight on the skin. A northern latitude, dark skin pigmentation, covering the skin, being housebound or spending very little time outdoors (office workers, night-shift workers) and wearing sunscreen all limit the opportunity to manufacture vitamin D.

We always recommend customers use a SPF sun cream when exposed to sunlight. Dietary sources of vitamin D such as oily fish and eggs are important too, but the average UK daily diet provides just 2.8 micrograms (women) and 3.7 micrograms (men).

Is it the same if you get it from food as if you get it from the sun?
Boots UK Pharmacist, Tom Kallis said: Ultimately they're the same, dietary sources of vitamin D are colecalciferol, which is the same substance which is produced in the body via sunlight; it's two ways to achieve the same thing, whether you get it by diet or by sun, but it’s a lot more difficult to get the full amount from dietary sources alone though - the majority of our vitamin D will be made from sunlight.

What is the RDA for vitamin D and how long will it take for you to get that in the UK?
TK: Oral RDA is 10 micrograms for vitamin D in pregnancy or over 65s, 5 micrograms is the RDA found in most supplements for the general population. However, the time it takes for vitamin D to be produced via sunlight varies depending on the season, time of day and skin type. Darker skin will shield some of the UVB rays needed to produce vitamin D due to the pigments in the skin, so it will take longer to produce for these people.

Also direct sunlight (at midday) will give the greatest abundance of UVB rays that penetrate through the atmosphere (making vitamin D production quicker) than in early morning or late afternoon. The further away from the equator also affects how much UVB penetrates through the atmosphere - much more penetrates when the sun is overhead closer to the equator.

How do you get vitamin D, naturally?
TK: Vitamin D is obtained through sunlight on the skin (sunlight catalyses the reaction of 7-dehydrocholesterol -> colecalciferol. Colecalciferol is then converted to the biologically active form of Vitamin D by the liver and kidney) or through foods in the diet. These foods include oily fish, eggs, some cereals and cod liver oil. It's much easier to obtain vitamin D through sunlight, but that and diet are two ways to help achieve this.

Do SAD lamps work?
TK: SAD lamps will only work to boost vitamin D levels if they have the correct wavelengths of light which allow the body to produce vitamin D and if enough vitamin D is produced from their use.

What happens if you don't get enough?
TK: Low vitamin D levels can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, where there is a low mineral content in the bones. Symptoms include stunted growth in children, bone pain and fractures.

Can sun beds give you a vitamin D boost?
TK: Sun beds can help with vitamin D production as they use the correct wavelengths of UV involved in their synthesis however, there is a greater risk of burns and skin cancer through regular use of sunbeds, so regular use is not advocated.

Can you get it through windows?
TK: Depending on window type, some have a complete UV filter on them. Most glass will absorb UVB rays, which are instrumental in the synthesis of Vitamin D.

Are Muslim women who wear burkas at risk of low vitamin D levels?
TK: If there is only limited exposure to sunlight and someone is covered up from head to toe all day, then yes, this can put you at risk of vitamin D deficiency if not enough sunlight falls on the skin.

In what way does a low intake of vitamin D affect your life - drowsy? Etc
TK: Low vitamin D levels have a tenuous link with SAD - some studies show that oral vitamin D supplementation can help, but it doesn't look clear cut. Some research suggests prolonged vitamin D deficiency can play a role in increasing health risks associated with bone cancers.

Consultant Nutritionist and Dietitian Juliette Kellow explains: “Vitamin D contributes to the normal development of bones and teeth and is made in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. However the British summer can’t always be relied upon to provide the amount of sunshine we need. Choosing a fortified whole grain breakfast cereal that contains Vitamin D is a great way to ensure that you’re not missing out when the sun isn’t shining.”

Can you get it through windows?
TK: Depending on window type, some have a complete UV filter on them. Most glass will absorb UVB rays, which are instrumental in the synthesis of Vitamin D.

Are Muslim women who wear burkas at risk of low vitamin D levels?
TK: If there is only limited exposure to sunlight and someone is covered up from head to toe all day, then yes, this can put you at risk of vitamin D deficiency if not enough sunlight falls on the skin.

In what way does a low intake of vitamin D affect your life - drowsy? Etc
TK: Low vitamin D levels have a tenuous link with SAD - some studies show that oral vitamin D supplementation can help, but it doesn't look clear cut. Some research suggests prolonged vitamin D deficiency can play a role in increasing health risks associated with bone cancers.

Consultant Nutritionist and Dietitian Juliette Kellow explains: “Vitamin D contributes to the normal development of bones and teeth and is made in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. However the British summer can’t always be relied upon to provide the amount of sunshine we need. Choosing a fortified whole grain breakfast cereal that contains Vitamin D is a great way to ensure that you’re not missing out when the sun isn’t shining.”

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EXPRESS
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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